Saturday, June 02, 2007

Let's Go Italy is the Worst Guidebook EVER

I forgave them for being wrong about the location of the internet point in Napoli, which sent me wandering the streets twice in two days. I forgave them for getting the street name wrong for my hotel in Bari, and for not listing the location of the tourist office in Lecce (I found it myself) -- these are little things.

But then they said the best way to get back and forth from Gallipoli was the trains, and they neglected to say that the town is actually not near the beaches AND neglected to note that there is NO BUS to the beaches AT ALL before July and August.

I went to Gallipoli yesterday looking for a little sun and surf. I had to take the TrenItalia trains to Lecce (the southern terminus of the line), then switch to FSE (Ferrovie Sud Est, the NJT to TrenItalia's Amtrak). Then, from the station, I took a bus to the main town.

At this point, it was lunchtime, and the streets were deserted. I wandered for a while, looking for the beach or at least some kind of indication on how to get to it for a few hours, growing increasingly more annoyed and sunburned. At one point, I wound through what I felt was the most remote little alleyway that I could have possibly found. The only reason I went there was that there was a Tabaccheria sign and I thought I could buy a bus ticket.

But the Tabaccheria was closed (a rarity), so I sat in the doorway, sweaty and stinky, pondering my next move. Suddenly, from around the corner came a man's voice that I thought was speaking in English.

I stood up. As the voice moved closer, it became apparent that it was speaking German. The voice rounded a corner. It was a tourguide, leading, you guessed it, a troupe of 30 German grandmas, who were not at all sweaty- or nasty-looking. I felt bad even standing next to them, so I left.

Eventually, the siesta ended and the town started opening up. I got a gelato and headed down to the spiaggina (little beach) in the middle of the town. I took some great pictures.

Then I decided to go home, but no go. FSE was on strike, and there were no trains. To top things off, there were no busses, so I was trapped in this little beach town in the middle of nowhere. To add to my frustration, all of the hotel rooms in town had been booked by -- guess who? --German grandmas.

I finally managed to bribe someone into giving me a hotel room without providing my passport and proceeded to have dinner in THE MOST romantic and scenic restaurant of my entire life (alone, of course).

In the morning, I caught the first bus back to Lecce (no thanks to Let's Go, which doesn't provide bus info), and then took the train to Bari.


gians said...

...L' Italia non ti piace? la sua organizzazione turistica e i suoi servizi non ti piacciono, ma allora perche non rimani nella tua citta'. Faresti un favore a te stessa e un favore agli Italiani.


vito said...

gians sei un cretino

vito said...

Andrea, I enjoy reading this blog. As for the guidebook, why not lonely planet?

Dori said...

What do these comments in italian mean!