December-January 2004 – 1 week in Siria (Damascus – Krak de Chevaliers – Palmira -Aleppo)
January 2004 – 1 week in Valencia (Spain)
February 2004 – 10 days in Andalusia (Spain) Granada – Cordoba- Sevilla – Jerez de la Frontera
March 2004 – 7 days in Campania (Italy) Naples – Capri – Pompei- Sorrento – Positano
April 2004 – 30 days in Dervio – Lake of Como (Italy)
May 2004-Jan 2005 – Turin (working for Olympic games)
July-August 2004 – Athens (working for Olympic games)
My 2004 began in a beduin tent in Palmira, Syria.
I usually dislike organized group travels, but this one week tour in Syria was a great experience. The group was great as the tour leader, Hanna, a Syrian girl who were living in Italy at the time. It was my first time in a Middle East country, excluding the week I spent in a tourist village in a Sharm El Sheik (my first and last experience in a touristic village) that of course has nothing authentic, and man, I was surprised fascinated.
Few days after I came back to Sirya I did my first self organized trip on a low-cost flight. My destination was the spanish city of Valencia, who welcomed with a sunny week and daily temperatures around 20 Celsius in January. The warm weather, good food, the nice friendly people of South of Spain deserved more time to explore, so one month later I was back in the area, this time in Andalusia, where I spent 10 days. In the hilly and chilly Granada I took a cold and when the day after I moved to Cordoba I had high fever, around 39. One day of antibiotics, complete rest and the day after I was ready to roll again. The way I felt in my first day in Cordoba, if I would be at home I would probably took rightly one week off from work. But when you travel you don’t want to be sick and your healing powers are way much stronger.
In March I wondered around the italian region of Campania, that I never visited before. I didn’t like Naples that much, but Pompei was simply outstanding: not only for their millenary amazingly well conserved ruins (at those times at least, unfortunately I’ve heard they are falling down), but I was shocked to see the central square in an ordinary Saturday of March so crowded of happy local young people enjoying life. While I was in Capri on the cable car I received a phone call that would change the events of the year. It was from TOROC, the Organizing committee of Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
In April I moved to Dervio, on Lake Como. I rented a nice house for 1 year and it was my first time living alone. Only 1 month later I had to move again, because I decided to accept the job offer for Turin Olympic Games, so in May I relocated again. I was really excited to work for the Olympics, but not surely of living Turin, in my previous experience the most depressing italian city.
Instead once there I discovered a town much nicer than I expected. Thank also of my colleagues of Press Operations, whom I keep a great memory, a cosmopolitan and stimulating work environment, summer in Turin passed away lightly and funny, between an aperitivo on “Quadrilatero romano” and nights out in ”Murazzi” or in the gorgeus Gran Madre square.
I was almost sorry to leave for Athens for 40 days and go working for the Summer Olympic games. That was a hard experience, completely different from the one I had in Sydney. In Australia I was working 14 hours a day, in Athens i felt like a lion in the cage, I wanted to do everything and the only thing I could do was observing, without be given the chance of doing anything.
After years I can tell my perceived experience was worst than reality. I still had a heck of good time, having the possibility to watch so many events. The Basket final between Italy and Argentina, that I assisted sitting in a second row berth, behind Carl Lewis, is the best fan sport moment of my life, comparable only to the day in Barcelona, Camp Nou, where my beloved Ac Milan won the Champions League demolishing Steaua Bucarest with a 4-0. That day in Athen, enchanted by Argentinian fans, start growing me seriously the wish to visit the country..
Back in Turin from Athens, things began going downhill quickly. It was hard keeping with 2 jobs and by boss in Turin become bitching on me, until I had to face the choice between the job with Gazzetta and the one for the Olympics. It was not a difficult choice considering that the latter was going to end 1 year anyway and at the time I was still too invested in my “pink dream”. And more than everything, leaving the “work office” I was free again to experiment this new lifestyle I was just getting started: travelling!