Our homecoming did not go well. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong.
The first thing I should mention is the organization that is responsible for our horrible evening: Alitalia is the worst airline ever. When checking in they tried to make us pay extra for the bicycles, even though we already confirmed 3 times by phone and in person that we didn't need to pay extra if we only checked in the bicycles and not anything else. But this is not because Alitalia are trying to scam us, it's just that they're idiots. After weighing the bicycles a random security guy from Palermo airport showed up and took our bicycles to the security checkpoint. That is: dragged the bicycle bags over the floor in a rather devastating way. Carelessness is the word that best describes Alitalia.
Upon arrival in the UK all three of us were giddy to get home, and we decided to assemble the bikes at the airport, since it's only a short ride home. That's when we first noticed how Alitalia treated our bikes. There were holes everywhere in our (expensive!) bicycle bags. Very very bad. While assembling the bikes there were some major pieces completely broken. Kamil's gear wires were completely messed up and Tim's frame was so bent that the rear wheel could not possible fit, making his bike unfixable for the time being. Since Tim had to get back to Oxford I let him use my bike, which was in surprisingly good state (albeit dirty as hell). Kamil managed to fix his bike so he went with Tim to the train station, which is next to Kamil's place. He would pick up his car and then drive to the airport to pick me up, as well as the broken bicycle, and all the luggage that was still with me: a whopping 8 panniers, 2 bicycle racks and a bunch of heavy camping stuff.
About 20 minutes after Kamil started cycling I realized that I still had his car keys in my backpack. Suffice to say we were both not very happy. I'm usually the guy who remembers where things are, reminding people not to forget things. This time I forgot too. Kamil took a lot longer than expected to cycle home, so I (very, extremely) grudgingly agreed to somehow carry 3 people's worth of luggage onto the train. This was an extremely frustrating endeavour. I had to transfer once, and carry the damn luggage all the way from one end of the platform to the next. I have not in a very long time been so pissed off. Nobody dared approach me at the platform because I looked like I would throw them in front of the train if they dared speak a word to me. I waited for 30 fucking minutes until the right train finally arrived.
Finally I did arrive at the right train station, and Kamil was there waiting for me, just as pissed off as I was, and a lot colder. He'd been waiting outside at the train station for 30 minutes, trying to avoid drunk black people and other shady characters. Carrying the super-heavy luggage up the stairs was quite a challenge. Having to pass several more shady looking characters did not make things any easier, but my face was set on war mode, and nobody approached us. We finally managed to drag the stuff up to Kamil's place, but what a horrible experience it was. For me it was definitely the worst ending of all trips I ever did, ever. And none of it would have happened if Alitalia had just been a bit more careful with our bicycles..
On the bright side, Sicily was absolutely fantastic. It's such a beautiful island, and the people are great. I'll blog more about that later, when I get the photos and the notes sorted. Right now I really need some sleep..