Anybody who doesn’t believe travel changes you – mostly and hopefully for the better – is probably reading the wrong website. I know that travel changes you. I think you do too.

Here’s one interesting way that travel changed me.

Back in 1999, a family holiday to Naples, Italy, when I was an often moody, always day-dreaming seventeen year old changed the course of my life. It persuaded me to start studying Italian at University just over a year later and it began a love affair with a country, culture and cuisine that will never die no matter how many other countries come on the scene.

Sorrento by Lucy Dodsworth

Little did I know, however, that nearly fifteen years later, those memories of poignant Pompeii, the astonishingly stunning Amalfi Coast and the beautiful, edgy chaos of Naples would provide the backdrop for another very special story; my first self-published short story. After writing fiction for an audience of one (me) for most of my life I decided to make 2013 the year I self-publish a collection of fictional short stories inspired by travel. I felt maybe the places, people and journeys I wrote about would speak to and entertain others; if I loved writing the stories so much, maybe you would enjoy reading them in equal measure. I also owed it to that day-dreaming teenager that I was (and still am) to try and put my writing out there. So I did and I am.

Amalfi Coast

See the Amalfi Coast is one of these short stories to be released in a full collection this summer. The main characters in the story are Martin and his wife, a couple in their mid-50s from a town near Leeds, Yorkshire who travel to Naples on a rare holiday abroad. It draws from many memories of my own holiday in the area, but the underlying plot and themes make the journey in See the Amalfi Coast about so much more than just a holiday…

I’d love for you wonderful Travelettes readers to share in Martin’s story so here it is for you. You can download the ebook for free as a mobi (for Kindle), a ePub (for Nook or Sony e-Reader) or you can read it as a pdf on your desktop, smartphone or tablet. You can get download it straight to your Kindle from Amazon for less than $1.20 and all profits from the book are going to a charity close to my heart.

Below is an extract from the book. We join Martin and his wife as they disembark the plane on a baking hot July afternoon at Naples airport…

*****

Aviators

The heat smacks us in the face as we descend from the plane on rickety, plastic steps. In front of me Martin raises his face to the sun as though he’s never seen it before, or perhaps, as though he’ll never see it again. I poke him in the back to keep him moving.

A man stands at the bottom, his chin lifted up and away from us. I sense that he thinks he’s taller than he really is. He’s wearing tailored black trousers and a short-sleeved white shirt over which a fluorescent yellow vest flaps open in a warm breeze. The gold rims of his oversized aviator sunglasses sparkle in the sun. Every now and again he raises his left arm and slowly points to the terminal building with a slim, tanned index finger. I have never seen somebody so stylish doing such an unglamorous job.
 
“Bloody poser,” Martin sniffs

*****

Girl
 
A woman with big brown eyes greets us with a fake smile and a perfect manicure. She is beautiful. In Leeds she would be a film star. Martin melts in her presence, over-pronouncing his words and grinning at every opportunity. I indulge him, knowing it will perk him up for the rest of the day.
 
“Have you ever been to England? I wouldn’t bother, if I were you. Bloody cold most of the time, even in summer. Though this feels pretty bloody hot. Is it always like this?” The back of his hand wipes his brow. Seeing the sun reflect off his balding head, I wonder if we packed enough sunscreen. It’s another silly thought.
 
As we leave the terminal, I hold back so Martin can walk side by side with his film star. I pretend not to notice when he struggles to lift our suitcases into the boot of the mini bus.
 
*****
 
Vespa
Naples’ roads are terrifying. There is no order on the motorways other than a common tendency by cars to drive with the white lines of the road directly underneath them. Once on older, narrower streets our pace slows to a crowded crawl. It’s impossible to determine how many lanes of traffic the road is supposed to have or how many people would like it to have. I hear more horns than I see vehicles and though it is deafening, it is also a little exciting. I know it’s not the case, but it feels as though the noise is announcing our arrival, welcoming us.
 
As we sit in traffic, once grand buildings shade us from the sun. I look up and see walls crumbling,shutters missing panels and small balconies weighed down with flowerpots, chairs, bikes, even washing machines. Mopeds creep up on either side of us, one after the other. They are like ants, coming out of nowhere and unquestioningly following the one in front, trusting that they can and must go where he before him goes. Down alleyways I see rows of washing stretching across, high in the air. I always thought it looked romantic and neighbourly in films, but in reality it’s a little sad to see peoples’ clothes drying in the exhaust fumes on a shared washing line. Yet that doesn’t make it any less of a treat to see.
 
On the ground there is dirt. Rubbish bags are stacked on street corners and beside shop doors. I remember Martin telling me about the rubbish problem in Naples. He showed me some frightening photos once, a few years ago. Apparently it’s much improved now. People sit outside their homes on chairs; some perch alone and stare sternly ahead, others lean into small groups and talk intently. Most are men and all seem old, with the lines of many stories carved into their faces. All appear undisturbed by the noise, the traffic and the black bags of rubbish that lie close by.
 
I look up again and see an elderly woman with unruly hair stare out of a window, her face peering over a pot of purple orchids. Three young men wearing suits walk by my window. They talk over each other, with their hands and shoulders as much as their mouths. As the mini bus finally begins to move forward, we pass a policeman sitting on a motorbike on the pavement. Smoking a cigarette, he watches the chaos unfold around him. He seems content. I have counted seven stray dogs on our journey so far, one with three legs.
 
Martin suddenly covers my hand with his,squeezing my knuckles together. “It’s bloody brilliant, isn’t it?”
 

Download and read the rest of the story from here or get it on your Kindle…

Amalfi Coast - Photo by Amber Bridges

Illustrations by Laura Hickman.

Photos: 1 by Lucy Dodsworth, 2, 3 & 4 by Lisa R Bond &  5 by Amber Bridges.

Thank you to everyone who’s already downloaded See the Amalfi Coast. If you liked the story I’d be incredibly grateful if you could leave a quick review on Amazon.


frankie-in-ljubljana

This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.