Thursday, February 21, 2008

What a place....

Well I survived four days in Florence without an international incident.
I was actually a little shocked that out of all of guys on the Team that was put together to attend the meetings and help finish the project, I was neither the rowdiest nor the loudest. I might be the youngest but these guys have me beat when it comes to experience with having fun and being on the road. I just feel bad for the one guy that didn’t drink; I don’t think he found everything as funny as the rest of us.
Unfortunately the only day we really got to go out during the day when everything was open was on Sunday when we got in, so we didn’t get to go in any museums. We were in conferences from nine each morning to about six pm. Unlike the US, in Florence most people don’t even eat dinner until around nine or ten every night. That fits my schedule perfectly, that is how it is at home usually anyway, so we got to walk around quite a bit in the evenings before and after dinner. I have to say that the food in Florence is the best that I have experienced anywhere, ever. Everything is amazing, sometimes the dishes that they serve together aren’t what I am used to at home, quite a bit of beans and cheese, but my theory is to just go with it, and as it turns out I haven’t had anything that wasn’t excellent. I can’t stand listening to people complain about things because they aren’t what they might be used to in the States.
When in Rome, right?
The hotel we were in is the second five star hotel that I’ve been in over the last five weeks. The rooms aren’t that big but the beds are comfortable and the bathrooms are really nice; marble floors, sink, and showers. Also all of the bathrooms in the hotels have bidet’s in them, so I figured why not? I am a big supporter of good personal hygiene and cleanliness after all. Let me tell you; if when trying to turn the water off after you use it, the knob gets turned the wrong way there is a very fine line between a bidet and a complimentary enema! WOW!
The first morning I was in the shower and looked up and saw what appeared to be a ceiling fan and a switch with a long cord hanging to the bottom of the shower. I thought that the cord was to turn on the fan so I pulled it, nothing happened so I pulled it again, since the fan didn’t come on I assumed that it just didn’t work. Then the phone (located right next to the shower) started ringing, I assumed it was Hans calling about breakfast but when I answered it was the front desk. The woman asked if I was ok, I told her I was just fine, she said she was just checking because the emergency alarm for my room (located in the shower I found out later) had gone off twice. I had to apologize and told her that I thought it was the ceiling fan. I’m sure the thought “stupid American” went through her mind. At breakfast I told the guys and about how stupid I felt and it turned out that everyone except Hans (who grew up in Switzerland) also pulled the cord in their shower thinking it was a fan.

One of the most entertaining things you can do is ride in a taxi at rush hour. The people in the US that experience road rage over our freeways would have a stroke if they had to drive in Italy. Everything in the US is really black and white as far as divided lanes, and signage go. In Italy it is mayhem, I heard that Rome is even worse than Florence; but Florence at rush hour is a zoo. All of the streets are narrow and usually are between two tall buildings so you can’t see what is coming before you turn onto them. It was common to see someone turn up a side street only to have a car coming right at them. It is pretty comical as long as you aren’t the driver. There are tons of people that ride scooters everywhere, and the scooters just weave through traffic whether it is stopped or not. We were sitting at a stop light the other morning and a guy pulled up on a scooter wearing a Harley Davidson coat and had a Harley sticker on his helmet and a Harley key chain. It was one of the funniest things I saw on the trip. I couldn’t stop laughing, I was afraid he was going to look over and see me laughing. I did manage to get a picture though.

My trip from Florence to Anchorage via Amsterdam and Seattle is about 24 hours in total. We had an early flight out of Florence this morning and planned to leave the hotel at 5am so I figured I could just roll back to our time zone a little easier by staying up all night. Seemed like good logic at the time. We got back to the hotel around 3am and when I woke up at 5am (still in my clothes and my suitcase not packed) I really started to question my seemingly genius logic from the evening before. After I took a shower and packed my stuff things actually turned out pretty good. I was wide awake all the way to Amsterdam and then after they served the meal on the flight to Seattle I went to sleep and slept for about eight hours. That is much better than my last few transatlantic flights where I was wide awake for the whole flight and then totally exhausted when I got off the plane. Hopefully it won’t take me four days to get back on our time zone this time. I’m sure by the time I get adjusted it will be time to go again.

A nice little cafe tucked into a little cut through between streets

Sunset over Florence

Photo across the river

A nice walk through town

He had everything Harley except the bike

1 comment:

Cozimoto said...

A "very" fine line indeed!