As I mentioned, in a desperate search for some content, I’m going to hash up some of my summer adventures for you to read. You can stop reading now if you are one of my facebook friends, and already saw my posts from Italy in June.
I was ridiculously fortunate to be able to travel to Italy a few months ago. My friends Jake & Silvia were launching their new tour company [Alchemy Tours] and needed the help of a smart guy who could take photos, since they couldn’t find anyone respectable, they took me instead at a really good rate.
This recount of getting to Italy was thumbed into my iPhone the first night I was in Italy.
The first day … I count all of the travelling as the first day, despite the fact that it takes place over nearly 50 hours. Seattle to Chicago … Uneventful with the exception that I was thoughly surprised to find my flight was overbooked. Who would have thought that a red eye on a Tuesday would be oversold. I pondered the idea of giving up my seat but I knew my mother was waiting for me in Philadelphia, or at least I thought she was.
Upon arriving in Philly and contacting my mamasita, I find that she has not only not left the house, but is still some time from doing so. Ahh my mother, I do love her so, but puncuality is not her strong suit. When she and John did arrive at the airport, we headed in to Philadelphia proper for a cheesesteak [terribly fitting as my last meal in the states for a spell.]
I took the train back from South St. to the airport. I really do like trains. I wondered the international terminal for what seemed like ages before boarding for Munich. Another red-eye, another full flight. This time we had the pleasure of sitting on the tarmac for a couple of hours while we waited for the Air Traffic Controllers to sort out what ever mess they were in. I feared I’d miss my connection in Germany and speant most of the flight worrying about that. We landed in Munich, 1.5 hours late leaving me 20 minutes to get through customs, change terminals, and board my flight. In any other airport in the world this would be impossible, but here in Germany they run their airports like nothing I have ever seen. I cleared customs and at the bottom of the stairs, there was a lovely young lady holding a sign with my name. She told me she worked for Liftunsa, a partner of both of my airlines [from Philly & to Italy]. She saw that I was late and came to make sure I made my flight. She had already dispatched a car to move my pack from plane to plane, she had my boarding pass already printed and walked me to the front of the fastest, most organized security line I could have imagined. Amazing. Seriously.
Arriving in Pisa could not have been any more different than my experience in Munich. The bus was late to collect us from the plane [a puddle jumper at best], the bags took nealry an hour to make it from the plane [which I could see from baggage claim] to the rack that sufficed as a luggage carasuel. All and all not impressed by the Pusa airport. Pisa itself reminded me of a post war industrial wasteland. Boarded up building followed by pile of rubbish, followed by another boarded up building. Perhaps I am just trying to justify not going to see the tower and the surronding area, but as soon as I landed at the airport, I was looking for the train station. It was dirty … Neglected, Pisa seemed like the part of a country you need to have to keep going, but that I didn’t want to spend time in. The train ride to Florence was lovely, in the end I know I am more of a train person than a plane person [at least in their modern incarnations]. The ride was dotted with blue collar towns, farming villas and green pastures.
Fierenze … What can you say? It’s Florence, it’s amazing. I could try and take the time to explain it but either you’ve been here, or you haven’t. It is flooded with tourists, but it’s easy to get lost in my head and imagine it as it would have been 400 year ago. You ocassionaly turn down a street that is apparently not on the tourist maps and the are treated to a little typical Italian life, then you take your next right and San Giovanni is rising out of the pavement and consuming your eitire vision. It was pouring down rain when I got off the train. I was soaked within seconds. I didn’t even have time to dig my poncho out of my pack. I walked a few blocks and then realized that I was too wet to think. I ducked into a doorway of some little square and went to the trouble of finding my emergency poncho and my hat. Life savers indeed. I wondered around for several hours and took pictures with my eyes, it was far to wet for my camera.
I eventually stumbled upon the número sette bus, having come full circle on my day’s wanders. Taking the bus to it’s conclusion will bring me to Fiesole and I’ve heard there’s a great camping area there. I arrived in Fiesole after the very uphill bus ride, again in the pouring rain. I trotted off in the direction of the camping area. Several miles of absurdedly hilly streets I began asking for directions, every kind Fiesolean gave me very nice directions in the most pleasant of ways, unfortunately no one seemed to have any inclination to be right in their directions. Finally, after succombing to whatever roaming data fees at&t has for me, I fired up the iPhone and found my way. Upon getting to the gates of Camping Panaramico you are greated with a seemly never ending, near vertical road that must be summited before you can gain access to paradise. The campground is nice, a pool, restorante, bar, and pleanty of tress [impearitive if you are
hammock camping as I am].
But the view, the view is amazing, all of Florence extends beneath you. I set up camp between some sturdy looking trees [taking about an hour to get it just the way I liked it]. Then grimmaced in pain as my calf muscles screamed at my every step up to the restaurant, where I watched the sunset on Florence as I ate a pizza Napoli and tossed back a half liter of vino. It’s only now as I thumb this into my iPhone that I realize it’s the first meal I’ve eaten today. It’s time to rest now … more tomorrow.