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Thursday, August 30, 2012

I've gone a bit quiet...

Wednesday 29th August

You will have noticed no blog yesterday! We had travelled well from Assisi to Sorrento for about 3 1/2 hours when the problem occurred about an hour from our destination. We've had a torrid 24 hours but are ok.

We were victims of the bad guys in Italy near Naples!!  We were travelling on the A3 and had to go through yet another toll station and noticed guys in every bay 'selling' beads etc.. thought we were back in the Philippines. Unbeknowns to us we'd had a tyre slashed going through the pay booth just outside Naples around 2pm.We thought the roads were pretty bad and the car was difficult to manage and Graham thought that we probably had a flat tyre. There was no where to pull over so we drove for about 3 kms before we could pull off the A3 to check it out. We'd pulled into an area of roadworks and got out of the car to check the damage. We were out of the car for about 30 seconds and confirmed that the right rear tyre was very flat. We did notice a small white car with 2 guys in it pulled up behind us. They were moved on and  Graham was directed to back down the area of roadworks to get out of the way. The road work guys spoke no English but made out to be asking for money as Graham was getting out the spare tyre. They started to quickly help us change the tyre but we thought they wanted money before finishing the job. It seems that they were trying to tell us that our money was gone. I then went to get my bag out of the car and discovered it missing . My bag had our passports, Credit cards and mobile phone and my license. It was sitting between the 2 front seats on the console and not easily seen. Because we have French number plates on the car, I think we were sitting ducks - obviously tourists. A guy known to the workman arrived on the scene and he spoke some English and called the local police. The tyre was changed and we waited for about an  hour for them to arrive. We don't know what if any involvement the roadworks people had to do with the incident but we thought it odd that they knew that my bag had gone. We had not seen anything but were probably in stress mode wanting to get the tyre replaced and get on our way. Unfortunately the attending policeman spoke no English and we speak no Italian.  I had the phone number of the hotel and we were able to get some translation. It was suggested we go first to the hotel and then the police in Sorrento where there would be someone to help us make a report.

The guys on reception at the hotel were fabulous - rang the police and it was suggested we go there in the morning. With no mobile and the phone in the room not working, I organized internet connection and discovered  that our Commonwealth Travel money card had been wiped out about 3,000 euros leaving a balance of 8 euros.With no phone there was nothing I could do to cancel it any earlier. Evidently the card fraud had put a temporary stop on the Westpac credit card and it was I cancelled it  Arrangements have been made for emergency credit card to be issued and hopefully it will arrive tomorrow. It seems that the travel money cards are not as safe as we thought the'y be.

This is a bit long winded but the details will be helpful to file reports etc when we get home. Have already put in a claim to CBA for unauthorized transactions but it may take up to 45 days to be resolved!
We had a reasonabe sleep last night and after breakfast, headed down to the local police station where we were fobbed off to the cariboniere ( higher level of policing in the area) The guy on the desk spoke no English but there were a couple of guys in the waiting area who were able to interpret for us. It seemed that they were very annoyed that we'd been sent there  and they called the guys around the corner and we were advised to go back at 2pm to make the report - and that they knew about the incident form the attending policemen. The long and short of it is that they tried to fob us off again as we didn't bring and interpreter.  I stood my ground and told them that we had an appoinment and knew nothing about any interpreters. 
After about half an hour and interpreter arrived and we finished the process at 4pm.

We finished off the day with a bus ride around the Amalfi Coast which was fabulous. We decided not to drive and glad that we hadn't pursued the idea. The curves are very narrow especially with buses and numerous mororbikes and scooters (very popular here) We came home around sunset and the sights were spectacular. Dinner and then back to the hotel.

Still have to sort out passports, hopefully a consulate or embassy in Rome and tomorrow will contact the car company as we no longer have a spare tyre and one damaged, unrepairable one.

We are not deterred and still plan to go to Capri tomorrow for a few hours. We haven't made it to Pompeii yet but may do that en route to Rome. The traffic here is chaotic. Pedestrians beware - motor cyles, scooters, bicycles, cars and buses all fight for their place on the roads. There is little regard for any road rules it seems.

Will post pics tomorrow.. Oops it is already tomorrow so must go to bed!

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