Sunday, September 14, 2008

Florence Day 1 and 2

More pics here.

Florence! Days 1 and 2

So you want to know about florence, eh? Well, I've got some pics to show you:

First off, no sleep on the plane ride over. Even took a melotonin on the plane. It was about a 8-hour flight (which left at 3 p.m. from the 612), followed by 3.5 hours in the Amsterdam airport, and 2 more hours to get to Florence, where we arrived at the crack of noon. Definitely feeling weird during these photos.

So we get in, we get the driving tour of the city, which is pretty insane what with the zillions of scooters everywhere.

Several hours of sleep is followed by a radtastic meal cooked by my cuz Aimee. Granted, you can cook anything in olive oil and I'll love it, but this was certainly a great start. Wine was consumed and catching up was caught.

Next day the 5 of us (Me, mom, Aimee and her two sons Cyrus and Griffin) go for a walk to check out the city. It's about a 10-minute walk, and it's raining. Apparently it's their first rain in several months, so I feel like this is a great blessing I have bestowed upon the city. May their crops grow so that the people of florence may feel filled with the joy of life!

Okay, just kidding, rain sucks, but it's not pouring or anything. I spent a lot of time talking to Cyrus on our walks. He's pretty into video games, which makes sense because most video games are pretty sweet. His favorite weapons of all time are the missile launcher and the sword. But only the swords that you can actually throw at people. I think he might want to be a bazooka when he grows up, but I haven't pinned this down yet. I'll ask tomorrow. His favorite game Graffiti Kingdom, which looks and smells like a bootleg / homebrew video game, but apparently its very real.

So we go to an open-air market...there's lots of stuff that I am strongly considering not purchasing. I succeed. One of the vendors is selling some sweet wooden weapons. Bows and arrows, swords, and slingshots are all tested before Cyrus decides on a rubber-band shooting gun. Being a few years older than his brother already gives him an unfair advantage, and on top of that, now he's armed. Sensing the road ahead could possibly be fraught with jealousy, my mom springs into action, procuring a similar weapon for the young Griffin. Of course, for the time being, I'm somehow required to keep the weapon from Griffin until the time is right. I finally feel like a gun-loving, god-fearing American once I tuck the piece beneath my XKCD hoodie.

We keep walking until we get to what apparently is a restaurant. Little do I know this is no ordinary restaurant:

That's right, my first real night in Florence and the place I'm going to eat dinner is featuring some unholy alliance between Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but I'm promised the chef is famous. Unbeknowsnt to me, he actually passes by while we're waiting for Aimee to finish making our reservations:

A warning to younger readers – it is never okay to accept candy from strangers, unless this man happens to be handing out chocolate truffles.

Next up is Madmans Market. There might be approximately 5,000 butchers here, but I don't have any idea what they are selling. It's clearly meat, and the stuff that's laced with the most fat is obviously the most expensive. The kids are attracted to the anything dead that still has recognizable features – whole chickens, pig carcasses, eyeballs. I'm pulled to the air – the stench of butchered meat draws me in like some childhood memory I don't want to turn away from. Unrelated: I have the same problem with the smell of gasoline. What gives? We go upstairs and buy some raspberries, blackberries, and pistachios. There are some cute girls here, but every time one gets close, my mom either makes me pose for a photo or Cyrus tells me that Han Solo is is favorite Lego Indiana Jones character (seriously!). I love the guy, but he's definitely not cut out for the role of wingman.

We head for a huge toy store. I secretly wish I was little again so it would seem even bigger, but its closing in 5 minutes for lunch so I avoid getting wrapped up in this fantasy. Instead, I squeeze a whoopee cushion. It sounds like a fart, and farts are funny!

We get sandwiches for lunch. Mine involves a half-loaf of bread and salami and cheese. Not bad. Note to self: eat more fatty/salty meats. Turkey is served once a year for a reason, and it belongs on sandwiches only during that weekend following Thanksgiving.

We hit up a gelato shop. I'm feeling devious and combine BANANA AND LEMON. You can't say you saw that coming. It's really good, but I'm still not into sweets. The force-feeding will continue until appetite improves.

We trudge back home, as everyone probably needs a break. I take a nap and put on my fancy socks since we're going out to dinner. Aimee's husband Eric is also home now, after returning from leading a small battalion of 6th graders into some Roman mines. Eric is napping and does not seem willing to discuss the total amount of ore extracted, and I don't care enough push the subject.

Dinner is ridiculous! Fa real, son! Off the hook. It's pretty much cafeteria-style – you walk in, grab a table, fill up your own wine glass, and head for this big table which is loaded with a bunch of different antipasto. Right behind this table is the giant kitchen, which you can watch different things being prepared.

Now, the food is phenomenal, but the best part is that every few minutes, the head chef yells out to everyone what is about to be added to the table. Of course, he yells this in Italian, and so I have no idea what he says so I just look around and see how many people drop what they're doing to get this new dish – it doesn't often last long, but since we had so many people at our table I got to try almost everything that was brought out. Clams, pesto pasta, a fairly spicy pasta, etc. You keep eating food and drinking wine and eventually dessert of coffee gelato (and the most awesome chocolate truffle-type things I've ever eaten) shows up, singaling the end of your meal.

Immediately tables are cleared and hauled off, and everyone moves their chairs to face the stage. Yes, this is billed as Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Needless to say, it wasn't very good. I will spare you a scathing review.

First of all, I know that classic Americana is not for me. Some of their bands covered include Cat Stevens, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.

It's like 2 a.m. local time as I finish writing this anyway, so I really should just go to bed. More soon - arrivederci!

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