During lockdown, I felt suffocated after being stuck in my house for months on end, no different than I know the majority of us were feeling. So out of hitting desperation in June, I took the risk and booked a flight and Airbnb in Naples for the beginning of September. This was whilst we still had a travel ban in place yet luckily 3 days later, we got the green light to travel abroad again, meaning I managed to get my return flight, insurance and Airbnb for 3 nights at just under £180 right before the prices skyrocketed.
I was very much in the mindset of if my flight is going, I am going. I was willing to risk having to self-isolate for 2 weeks when I returned because the benefit for my own mental well-being of getting to escape even for just a few days and quarantining afterwards outweighed not going at all.
This is going to be the first of 3 entries, as I have a lot I want to write about but want them to be good 5 minute reads for when you happen to catch a moment on your phone. So first, we start on Saturday…
Saturday 5th September
So on Saturday morning, I got up and was all packed to go on my little adventure. I was so excited but I won’t lie, I was very on edge about not getting to go until the plane left the runway. After lunch, I headed to Bristol Airport ready for my flight. Flying during COVID felt really different but I felt perfectly safe and personally, I preferred it. People kept their distance from me, there were fewer people around and best of all, no one in front of me in the queue at Starbucks. There were more restrictions in place, forms to fill in and airline-specific guidelines you must check before you travel. You can read my blog post about travelling during COVID here, which covers some information about entry forms etc that I may mention along the way.
When boarding my flight, I couldn’t believe I was finally going to Naples. Not only that, but I also had the entire row to myself for the flight. Due to the current situation, I really didn’t want to use the bathroom on the flight because although they change the air in the cabin every 3 minutes, I felt if I was going to catch the virus, that would be where I did. However, the turbulence wasn’t great over France so I did break my own rule there. But I was the awkward person asking my flight attendant for gloves and could be seen anti-baccing all the way up my arms once I was back in my seat.
By the time I reached Naples, the sun had just gone down. I presented my forms to passport control and was out the other side within 15 minutes, max. This wasn’t without having an altercation with the bloke who checked my passport though.
I have a passport cover that has a cardholder in the back. This was holding my EHIC and Monzo card. He removed my passport from its cover and returned it all to me, or so I thought. I walked through the gate to realise my bank card wasn’t in there. I was flapping the case, my passport, waiting for it to fall out and it was not there. I went back and asked him to check if he had my bank card, without looking he said he didn’t have it. The second I started to look for a police officer (of which the airport did have them wandering around) he conveniently was now happy to check his booth and asked for my passport to double-check for it there for me. Magically, he returned my passport to me and tried telling me it was in the back the whole time. It wasn’t, he slipped it back. From now on, even with customs officers who I think are meant to be trustworthy, I will be making sure that I am only handing them my passport. Nothing else. Lesson learnt I guess.
As I was arriving into Naples at night and alone, I booked a private transfer through Travel Supermarket. So after being one of the people randomly selected for the more intrusive than I expected COVID swab, I was out the door and on my way to my Airbnb. I got the results back about 2 hours later, all clear and allowed to carry on with my plans.
Now I never thought I would say this about somewhere in Italy, but arriving into Naples on a Saturday night was a bit of a culture shock. When people liken Naples to the Bangkok of Europe, it’s no exaggeration. I genuinely felt I had been chucked into the hustle and bustle of Thailand. It was actually a little bit overwhelming at first. The traffic was packed with loud beeping of horns and there is no such thing as with anywhere in Italy as “staying in your lane”.
I got to my Airbnb at just gone 9pm which was situated between the university and port. I was in a stunning two-bedroom apartment with a modern kitchen, WiFi, balcony and the most gorgeous bathroom. I am really happy with where I chose to stay, I felt as though I was in the very heart of Naples. However, not too noisy so I was able to still get good rest. My Airbnb host had filled the cupboards with Italian treats and the fridge with lemonade, fruit juice and milk too.
Although at first overwhelming, I soon decided that this was just Naples Character. It was nice to feel a little out of my comfort zone after being so shut in for so long.
Up Next? Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii
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