Thursday, May 05, 2005

Florence in '94 - them were the days

I don't have an awful lot to write about today (though some of you will wonder what's the difference between today and every other day that I blog), so I thought I'd rummage through my old travel diaries and pick out what happened on the 5th of May, 1994 (not quite the last time I did anything exciting).

On this day I arrived in Florence. I'd nearly missed the train getting there, because it'd arrived at a different platform than expected, and left earlier than expected. The youth hostel was really pretty, like the one in Verona - it had carrara ceilings and ceiling frescoes, and looked really grand.

My first touristy stop was the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge apparently once full of jewellers' shops; now it's full of souvenir stands. Then, while I was wandering about looking for the Thomas Cook office and a place to process my 14 rolls of film (I was about five months into my travels by then), I bumped into a guy whom I'd met on the bus to the hostel. Once a mid-Westerner and now a Seattlelite, Mike was in the midst of a Kurt Cobain makeover (without the Prozac, the rock chick girlfriend, and the record deal). He seemed really interesting because he played in a band back home, made his own movies and shared my love of Utimate (some call it frisbee football). We followed each other around the green-, pink- and white-striped Duomo, shared calzone and talked in the freezing cold hostel garden until curfew at 11pm.

It was in Florence that I was "caught short" and went into a cafe solely to use its customer toilet. Being an honest sort of person, I made the effort of buying and imbibing an expresso first so I'd qualify as a legitimate customer. Having added dangerously to my already full-capacity bladder levels, not to mention the diuretic effect of the caffeine, I was not at all pleased to discover that this cafe had no toilets.


Nigel Patel said...

Don't think we have youth hostels in Los Estados Unidos, just hostile youth.
We do have something called Frisbee Golf. Now called "Disk Golf".
Hippys LOVE it.
I went through the grunge dude phase too. Had shoulder length hair, which is actually not becoming on fat men.

onscreen said...

My rule of thumb is to always use the toilet and THEN buy the coffee to legitimise the toilet use... at least then you know they've got one!

Desiree said...

When first travelling around Europe via Autotours way back in 1987 (eek!) we used to do the "buy something, then use toilet" thing all the time - we felt less guilty about it.

But when in Spain we read somewhere (Let's Go bible) that it was perfectly acceptable to just wander into a bar or café to use a toilet as they didn't have any public toilets. So as they say, when in Rome (or Barcelona)...

A good pick for any traveller is to use toilets at a department store or at the Golden Arches - generally they're well kept, have toilet paper, and no-one gives a damn if you haven't bought anything.

Mind you, it always pays to have that little packet of pocket tissues handy just in case...

Violet said...

nigel: yeah, I've played frisbee golf. It's much more sedate than Ultimate, which makes you run around a lot.

Onscreen and Desiree: nowadays I'm a lot more relaxed about using restaurant toilets without buying something either before or after. But in those days I was so much nicer and less assertive :-)

mike said...

Well, I've never done this before... but what's life without new experiences? It was a little weird to see this posted, one of those things that make you realize that you exist in the world.

Ahh, yes Florence in 94. That was glorious wasn't it? My attitude had soured somewhat after 2 night trains from Figures, Spain and someone trying to steal my money and passport while I was sleeping. It was as if the clouds parted and there were reds and browns and domed buildings. Art and pizza. Coffee. A short, sweet kiwi on the bus to the hostel.
I remember we sat in some cafe talking for hours and all we bought there was coffee.

I may have seemed interesting, but you never saw the movies I made, which were movies in the acedemic sense, they had beginnings and an endings, you could sit in front of a TV and watch them, but you may not have recognized them as, well, anything. (But the friends I made them with all had a good time 2 years ago when we got together to watch them again!). I still don't have a record contract, but have a new band. I have avoided the prozac so far and I don't own a gun. Well, I have a pellet gun, but you could hardly worry much about that.
And I still play Ultimate, on a team called: Stella! The Pirate King's Daughter!
So, it would seem that except for getting older,I haven't changed much! (Still a bit of a hoon? Is that what you called me?)Even so far as I keep saying that NZ is going to be my next trip... I'm sure you and the boy and a baby will have plenty of room to put me up, right? ANd plenty of time to hang out,right? :)
Thanks for reminding me of them good ol days...

I just read a book called 'Operating Instructions' by Anne Lamott. I didn't think it was fantastic, but it's short and was an interesting, honest account a single parent's first year with a newborn. Why was I reading this...? well perhaps I'll fillyou in with an email :)


Violet said...

Mike: nice to hear from you, and I'm relieved that you weren't offended by my reference to you as being in the midst of a Kurt Cobain makeover (which was meant in the best possible taste of course!). There's always room for you if you can just get around to visiting us, even if it means setting you up in the boy's "den" i.e. the spare room.

And I definitely want to know why you're reading a book about bringing up newborns...