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My first Olympic kiss

Shauna Farnell

I bring you this blog directly from OFM (Olympic Family) Bus. No. 1 from Oulx to Torino.

I have just left Bus. No. 6, driven by the friendliest bus driver I’ve ever met – Marko. From the minute I stepped onto the bus from Sestriere to Oulx, not sure if I was up for the six-hour round trip journey to the Olympic opening ceremony in Torino, I was quickly met with all sorts of signs indicating I’d made the right decision.

Marko accosted me immediately in the parking lot and asked where I was going. He is the first driver I’ve met who speaks English. As I was the only passenger on the enormous coach, I sat in the first seat near Marko as he enthusiastically asked where I was from and began recounting with loving detail all that’s fantastic about his hometown of Napoli (Naples). After three minutes of getting acquainted, Marko fervently informed me that he would love to buy me coffee sometime. He told me about his 4-month-old son, wrenching around to show me a picture of the boy on his cell phone as the bus wobbled precariously around tight switchbacks descending the mountain from Sestriere.



I apologetically informed him that, although I adore Italian coffee, a coffee date would be unlikely since every day in Italy was booked solid either with work or relentless traveling to and fro. (Digression No. 1) Even as we speak, the new bus driver (nothing like Marko) appears to be lost. With a commercial jet-size vehicle, we are currently attempting a three-point turn on a bike path-size two-way highway.

Anyway, getting back to the pleasant bus ride … When Marko and I had made it down to Cesana when he mysteriously parked the bus on a sidewalk (as they do around here) and went sprinting down the street and disappeared into a shop. Five minutes later he emerged carrying a tiny cup of espresso wrapped in tin foil. He handed it over and to my genuine thanks, he shook his head dramatically saying, “it is nothing. It is nothing.” We stood outside the bus for a few minutes surrounded by the majestic, snowcapped Alps, me sipping my espresso and Marko smoking and telling me how much better Naples is than this fresh-air-filled hell hole.

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Once we got to Oulx, he stepped off the bus with me and directed me to the next leg of my journey. I got another bus driver to take this picture, and Marko bid me farewell with an aggressive kiss on the cheek. He backed off and said, “I need kiss you again.” I obligingly turned my head to offer my other cheek as he went for my mouth and ended up with my nose and hair. As he leapt back into his bus and pulled away, he opened the door and said, “When do I see you again?” I told him, “Maybe on my next trip to Italy.”

And to think, I could have missed all this to watch Bode and company take a downhill training run. (Digression No. 2) After a short jaunt to France, we now appear to be headed to Torino.


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