We had a short holiday in the West of Ireland back in June, and then decided to pick our date for our return to Volterra. Looking at the vaccination schedule and cycles and waves of Covid, we made our move to book a couple of weeks in August. This time with guests: Niamh’s sister for the first week, my brother for the second.

Then the nerves set in (what else is new?).

The weeks seemed to flow at times like treacle, and other days it sped by. There were hiccups, of course, mostly around flights. Aer Lingus cancelled a ton of their European schedule, so Niamh had to scramble to re-book flights with Ryanair and re-do the booking for the carpark and carhire. Our guests had to manage some of that too. Then Ryanair shifted both outbound and inbound flights to later on in the day… cue further nervousness.

Then we finally found a bit of a saving: we’d get Niamh’s sister to drop us to the airport, and my brother to bring us home… presto! No carparking charges!

The day finally came, and everything went off without any further hitches. I think my anxiety was possibly slightly higher during this airport experience than I was last year. You never know why… it is what it is. I never really felt truly uncomfortable, though.

The airport was certainly busier than last year.

We’d arrived at the airport in plenty of time, and so were able to shop and sit *twice* for food. The ladies had sandwiches, and after I had an overpriced burger. It was nice, though – it hit the spot!

At the departure gates, there were the usual checks of passports, but really only cursory checks of our vaccination certs and passenger locator forms. Some dickhead in the line mouthed off to a staff member when he wasn’t wearing a mask, but soon piped-down and masked-up when confronted a second time.

We got on the plane, and we pretty much left on time – certainly nothing like last year.

The flight was great, if fairly packed… social distancing not a thing on these flights – although everyone was wearing a mask unless they were eating/drinking. The people density on the flight was pretty much the same as last year – although people were adhering to mask-wearing more this year.

We didn’t have any carousel cases with us – just carry-on, so we… um… waited for a longish time at passport control while they slowly funnelled about 20 people at a time. Then we were off!

And off to Sixt! These guys are expensive, but service and vehicle-wise, they’re the best we’ve tried. There are no shysters here. Although when we opted for an upgrade to an automatic VW T-Cross, we considered the initial upgrade price a little too steep, and they discounted it – I’m not thrilled with that aspect, but it goes to show that you should always refuse the first offer!

We took the obligatory half-dozen shots of the car to ensure we had no scratches that were previously. We’ve never had issues with scratches or previous damage (that wasn’t clearly documented) with Sixt. In fact, the last time we were here, we brought back a car with a very light scratch across about half the length of the car – it was a finger-paint job, but still they didn’t charge us for it.

The car journey to Volterra went well too. The sky flickered with lightning a couple of times before settling down. It reminded me of the beginning of our longer stay a couple of years ago. We arrived similarly late – at least 23:30, if not later.

We didn’t have our parking permit arranged yet, so we had to find a free spot. Almost all (not the underground carpark) public pay parking sites are free from 20:00 to 08:00, and we found a free spot in the carpark next to the Roman Theatre ruins by the Porta Fiorentina. It would mean I’d have to get up and move the car to the large free carpark the next day, but I didn’t care. I was here!

I was told by Niamh and her sister, I was practically skipping up the street. I have to admit, I was pretty damn happy at being back, and many of my symptoms seemed to have melted away. That was probably because I only had one thing on my mind:

We’d had the apartment cleaned before we arrived, so the only thing we had to do was arrange the bedwear and hit the hay, which we duly did. If I recall correctly, I slept ok, depsite the heat. We only have fans; no aircon – and August is the hottest month there.

I’ll update the blog with what we did during our days here over the next month or two, but please do also check out my YouTube Channel (Our Man in Volterra; I’m learning, be gentle!), and specifically this short music video showing our journey to Volterra.

Thanks for reading and watching – I hope you enjoyed it!

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