Today is the very sad day that I had to leave Dwight’s beautiful vineyard and carry on with my wanderings. I’m still a little in awe of the whole experience. The past months have been very fast paced for me, even when I was in Brighton between my travels. Being in the country (and such a beautiful country) even for only a few days exactly what I needed.
I was able to sit in the sun and read. I slept in late. I saw pretty towns and at wonderful food. I met possibly the last women of the great Offida lace tradition and got to watch them work. Stepping out the front door, in the middle of all that calm, it’s just hard to believe how lucky you are.
The website for the vineyard is here:
And the B&B:
I hope my life takes me back there someday, or even any of my friends who I can live vicariously through. What a treasure.
My train journey to Florence didn’t begin til mid afternoon. I really just spent the morning making arrangements for the next phase of my journey, booking hostels and trains. Dwight made bruschetta for lunch that is some of the best I’ve had, on his homemade bread and everything, and the pb&j’s with his homemade peanut butter.
I don’t know if you all remember, but I was thinking about making my own peanut butter when I first arrived in England and was under the strange impression (thanks Mom) that you couldn’t buy it anywhere. Now I really wish I had gone and made it anyways. Delicious.
I was able to fit everything back into my suitcase. It’s always a dubious prospect. A little more lounging and reading, it was time for us to be off.
I had already booked my hostel for two nights in Florence, but I decided I wanted to add a third. KCAI does summer study abroad trips, and I found out that the Florence trip begins tomorrow. I’d love the chance to catch my classmates or especially my professor. Jessie, who leads the trip, taught my figure drawing class sophomore year. It was an amazing course. she’s a fabulous artist and wonderful woman.
The train ride was a long one, but I was pleasantly surprised that the train follows the beach. It was so close that you look out and only see waves. The sea was moody today, and I’m sure that somewhere Pepe and his surfboard are taking advantages of the tumultuous tides.
I dozed a little, read a little, and fought off a migraine. So it wasn’t totally unproductive. Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss is a surprisingly funny read. Not only is the prose beautiful, but she sneaks humor where you least expect it. I’m really enjoying it, perhaps even a little too much–It’s a long book, and I had intended for it to last longer. I don’t know when my next opportunity to buy English books in a second hand store will be. Thrift stores are always good for the classics.
I got to Florence just before dusk. The hostel was reasonably near the train station, but unfortunately opposite the direction of the center. The neighborhood actually seems a little dodgy. I’m not sure about walking around here at night. The hostel is pretty unimpressive from the outside, but it’s really quite nice. It’s also quite secure. There are three separate keys for each guest: the front door, the door to get onto your floor, and the door to your room.
There is a kitchen for our use, and the bathrooms are sparkling clean. The only thing that concerns me is that there only appear to be two bathrooms on the floor, each like a home bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. It sounds nice, but if two people on the floor are showering and then someone needs to pee… Well, you do the math.
I did have to venture out after dark to find food. The hostel receptionist pointed me towards a nearby restaurant. There aren’t many around here and I wouldn’t have been able to find it on my own.
Now, I know I’ve been a little spoiled the last few days, but this was seriously the worst restaurant experience I’ve ever had. The waitress didn’t smile or speak one word to me. I understand that there’s a language barrier, but she didn’t even nod. She just walked away, and I was left to wonder if she’d ever return with food or had just abandoned me.
Better that she hadn’t returned with the food. My pasta had no perceivable flavor. It was all salt. I seriously felt like I was eating a plate of salt. I was hungry enough to get down about 5 bites, but couldn’t stomach any more after that. The wine was equally unpalatable. It was more like spoiled grape juice. I couldn’t even communicate any of this because of the language barrier, so I had to just pay for it and leave. Good thing I had a few skittles left in the bottom of the pack I bought last week.
I think I just ordered the wrong thing. It’s hard to imagine how one could mess up “spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce,” but it was dismal. Everyone else’s food looked much nicer and they all seemed to be enjoying it. I guess the trick is to order pizza.
I’m excited to explore Florence tomorrow. I was telling a friend about how hard it is to get here too late to explore (in a potentially sketchy neighborhood, anyway) but he compared it to Christmas. It’ll be really exciting in the morning after all the anticipation, and I’ll be ready to go first thing.