Great sport and faith in humanity restored !
As someone who travels a lot after work (and I know there are fellow photographers who judge me for this) - I see and experience a lot of good things, as well as my fair share of bad things and challenges.
Trip to Busto Arsizio in Italy gave me plenty of both - so here is a short recap of my 23 hours in Northern Italy.
Last minute look at game schedules pointed me to Finnish team LP Salon Viesti starting their FIRST EVER Champions League campaign in Pala Yamamay in Busto Arzisio in Italy. So a EuroCup basketball game in Antwerp was changed to a volleyball game in Italy. Arriving to Milan airport (with the flu) at 11am on Wednesday morning, I checked into the airport hotel and crashed to bed.
Then it was the usual last minute emails to potential clients about the game and after an hour of relaxing in the Sauna and by the pool (this gives more glorious view of my traveling life!) - it was time to head to town and find the venue. Short train ride to Busto Arsizio - to which I assumed to be the station named in the signs above the doors of the station (Busto Arsizio) - and I started to walk, in the rain, towards what I thought was the direction of the Arena
Two and half hours before the game started, so that should have been plenty of time, unfortunately yours truly managed to get lost.. well, not lost but just not finding the Arena. No worries, I might have been soaking wet - but still knew the way back to the train station, so just walk back there and get a Taxi... right?!?
WRONG!!! Arriving to the station, I see no taxis waiting outside the station - OK, just go inside and find a number for a taxi. Oh, lucky me - I was given TWO numbers to call. After about 15 minutes of trying, and no answer (theme of the day, from the room service at the hotel!).. I walked to the little cafe at the station to ask the owner to call me a taxi. As a local, he must get asked this often... he tries for 20 minutes.. still no answer.
By now the game is only 45 minutes away from starting - you can forgive me to start to get a little worried that I might not make it to this Arena in a city with no taxis and no map (and as you will find out - the map would have been little use!). So, there I am in the middle of Busto Arsizio train station soaking wet, and desperately mouthing 'Pala Yamamay... Yamamay... Yamamay...'
Frienly customer tries to be helpful and decides to speak to me in German..."Pala Yamamay, zwei minute.." This perks me up, two minute.. really!?! This is followed by everyone at the cafe joining in the discussion, in usually animated Italian style... in Italian (so I am left wondering what is said). Then I am taken to a group of teenagers and few of them speak English... "Pala Yamamay...??" they helpfully take out their smartphones and plot the route... walking time 2 DAYS 2 HOURS!! By now I am starting to wonder if this is even the right country!
But, just when things look bleak...my faith in the goodness of humanity is restored. A stranger walks next to me and says.. " I know where it is ... and I can take you there!"... after a quick conversation, I find out his name and that he is waiting for his girlfriend to come on a train and once she arrives they can take me to Pala Yamamay.
Five minutes later I am sitting in a car with Davide and his girlfriend (if I remember correctly, Gabriela) and speeding through the wet streets of town I had started not to like too much. OK - we did get lost, but in ten minutes I am walking in through the doors of Pala Yamamay!! Before leaving the car, Davide says that he might have some friends at the game who can help me after the game.. or just give him a call.
Now - without Davide's help.. I do not know how I would ever have made it to the game!! But.. I do still have to get back FROM the game.
After the game.. I get a lift with the Finnish team to their hotel, from where I can call a Taxi, so does this mean there are taxis in this town? Arriving to the hotel (nice hotel) around 11pm the reception calls a taxi for me. I get talking to a Lebanese doctor while waiting for my taxi.. which takes 35 minutes to arrive.. and in the end, probably isn't a taxi - but just someone with a fancy car who wants to make few extra Euros. The driver also looks like a big tough guy.. so I doubt there will be haggling of the price he will tell me once we get to my hotel :-)
Safely at the hotel around midnight... I order a Parma Ham, Rocket and Mozzarella salad to the room, edit few images and crash to bed for four hours of sleep before starting my journey back home.
OH - the game of Volleyball!!
Loved the game, and ALWAYS love coming to photograph this sport, there is so much emotion and so much action and different angles to cover it from. And the Italian fans... once I get too old to work as a photographer, I'll just travel to games of some of the teams I've photographed to experience this as a fan and despite Busto Arsizio not becoming my favourite city.. I will come here to see their volleyball team!!