We've never had a proper holiday flop before, so really we should have counted ourselves lucky, but instead as the days went by we tormented the life out of each other with thoughts of what we would rather have spent the money on had we not sleep-walked (or should that be slept-walked?) into this situation.
We could have gone to Paris on Eurostar, always a favourite of ours, stayed somewhere swanky and hit the shops big-time. True, someone had set fire to the Chunnel the day before, so that was a bit off-putting, but still. Or maybe we would have been better going to Barcelona for a few days, got a bit of Ramblas shopping under our (designer) belts and a little culture to boot. Right at the start I should of course have insisted on a destination from my recommended list, but no, here we were, disenchanted and disgruntled, unable to find the light at the end of the tunnel which wasn't in fact an on-coming train.
The morning after our arrival we woke up with two matching hangovers, the result of drinking far too much on way too empty stomachs. Husband had refused to be thwarted re the lack of red wine and had charmed the hotel receptionist into producing a bottle of white from the back of a cupboard somewhere. Actually, I guess it might have been from under the sink. It was disgusting, tasted of pencil sharpenings and ear-wax (I imagine) but did the job of numbing the pain until dinner time when we re-emerged, slightly pissed but re-energised, re-fettled and ready to party. We had gone on foot in search of the village and spent a good time searching for it before we realised that the dingey parade of shops reached by four flights of un-lit, slippery concrete steps, was in fact, it.
In my dreams the village would have had little waterside restaurants with candle-lit tables, smiling waiters and gorgeous food. In reality we were greeted at the local Pizzeria with a scowl, made to sit outside because the staff hadn't yet finished their supper, and only allowed back in when they'd done. It was bloody cold out there. The food took hours to arrive and when it did it was average, so we did the only sensible thing under the circumstances and kept on drinking. We left a huge tip in the hopes that if we had to eat there again during the week, this time they would like us more and maybe give us a smile, or be a little more friendly. It didn't work. This was obviously a local pizzeria for local people. Later that night I regretted both the tip and the tortellini I'd eaten there as my stomach lining and I violently attempted to part company.
Consequently, the following morning, things were dire. We went down to breakfast and again, not a soul in sight. I began to fantasise about the reason for it and finally decided that the whole hotel, which was pristine, white and hushed, reminded me of the euthenasia clinic as featured in the BBC1 TV series Holby City a while back. No one was coming in or going out, although I suppose it would have been a lot more worrying if loads of people had been coming in and no one going out. Whatever. It made me a bit suspicious of the breakfast juice, I can tell you.
And still it rained.
We went into town by taxi, bought an umbrella, hired a car and had a row. I ruined my best flat shoes and my hair went frizzy. Husband trod in dog-mess (unavoidable, the whole place was covered in it - what DO those dogs eat??) and got it on his jeans. Day one was not going well.
We looked across the grey sea towards Elba, shrouded in mist.
"Napolean died there you know, some say he was poisoned" said husband, trying to distract me from my misery with interesting facts, but failing totally.
"Not bloody surprised, probably ate at that fucking pizza parlour."
I shouldn't have said that. It was not helping, I know that now. I really needed to get a grip of myself, cheer up and tone down the smart-aleck remarks.
But all I could think about was that it was still six more days until I could go home.