Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France
By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005
Page 13 of 38: The Lost Are Found...
My GEOX ! A very" Wendy" photo!
Today comes in with rain, clouds rolling in, wind and more wind. This is great weather! It actually has texture to it. After breakfast, I walk to the Internet Point, catch up on my e-mails, and call my son. He is still really ill, and feverish. He and D. will meet me at the Murano glass store on via Calzaiuoli, where those absolutely stunning-but-dreadfully-expensive wine glasses sit on a shelf, looking at me soulfully and telling me they are really, truly mine.
My son promises me that he will help me find my GEOX! He is one of the most patient, careful and methodical people in my life. When we meet, the first thing he does is to ask me where I think the GEOX store is located. I tell him that I never left via Calzaiuoli, never went off that street and I’ve been up and down it from one end to the other and NO GEOX store! He asks me, very patiently, what is the last place that I remember seeing along that street, before I realized I was lost.
I think a minute and tell him that I was right at the corner of via Calzaiuoli and the piazza of the Du-o-mo. He and D. walk with me to that corner, and he asks me if I might have possibly turned the corner at the piazza.
“No, not at all,” I insist. “I never left this street, so I have no idea how I ended up near San Ambrogio, way over there to my right.”
We turn the corner to the right, from via Calzaiuoli along the south side of the Du-o-mo.
I stop, I stare, I turn and look at my son, and I have the decency to blush.
“Oh, look,” I say, under my breath, “There is the GEOX store! How on earth did it get on THIS street?”
My son looks at me, smiles and says something like, “Hmmmmm, I’m not sure, Mom…”
We go into the store, I explain to the clerk who this rather hare-brained customer is, standing in front of her. She laughs, opens the door behind the counter, reaches in and brings out...
My beautiful GEOX!
My comfortable walking shoes!
I pay the balance owing, M. and D. browse for a few minutes while I put my new shoes on my still-sore, travel-weary feet. We walk out of the store into the cold, windy, wet weather. I am happy, beyong the beyond!
I stop my son, put my hand on his arm and thank him profusely for his patience, then telling him that it is really a weird thing how turned around I was and how absolutely positive I was that I’d never left via Calzaiuoli. Yet, there it is. The proof is right in front of my eyes.
A little confused still, I walk back along via Calzaiuoli, marvelling at how little my feet hurt in these “comfortable walking shoes” that I bought, these lost-and-now-found shoes.
I can actually feel the wibbles and wobbles of the cobblestones right through the soles of the shoes. Yet, because they conform to the shape of the ups and downs of the stones, there is no discomfort for my feet at all. It is pretty amazing to me that I can put on a brand-new pair of shoes on my already-blistered and very sore feet, walk out of the store and walk the rest of the day with almost no pain at all.
Damn fine shoes these are, these comfortable walking shoes. What I want to know is why in the world didn’t anyone TELL me that I should have a pair of... well, you know...
We stop at some very touristy restaurant in front of the Du-o-mo and order lunch.
It is entirely forgettable.
(Note to self: I will not eat here again.)
I decide to treat my son to his 38th birthday gift while we are in Florence, something that he really loves and cannot leave Italy without. I tell him to start looking.
He thinks stunningly trendy sunglasses... read E350 – 700 a pair.
Maybe a leather jacket... read 500 – 1000E... OUCH!
We shop, we look, we have a fabulous time getting lost in the stores. We have a totally, absolutely smashing day just walking along, stopping for a cappuccino, another gelato, a “wouldn’t that be nice to take home?” window-shopping afternoon.
I walk home afterwards, along via dei Martelli which turns into via Camillo Cavour, in my new-found GEOX, with my painful feet feeling miraculously pain-free. It is a miracle.
Past the wine shop, the pizza take-out, Il Papiro, the high wide walls weighted down with wisteria blooming and hanging low above my head...
Past San Marco, past the corner caffe that I’ve never gone into, because I have my own, Caffe Principe...
Past the trash/recycle bins at the bus stop, to my door.
I am home.
I put in a load of laundry, make a “junk-food” dinner - a whole grapefruit, a tall glass of pineapple juice, a pot of tea, 3 slices of fresh ciabatta with delicious whole-fruit jam, a slice of fresh strudel from the bakery and a slice of olive focaccia.
Is this a strange mixture?
Who cares? I’m on vacation!
After dinner, I walk to my Internet Spot. I go to the message board on Slowtrav. I look for my 'Ciao Amici' topic.
There are so many people posting such kind words and great advice for me... such thoughtful people and so many very touching comments!
The guy who owns the Internet Spot looks at me strangely. Tears are on my cheeks as I read each and every message posted on the message board, and then read them again. THESE are the very people, most of whom I’ve never met except on Slowtrav, who have handed me this amazing trip in tiny bits and pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle to be pieced together one little bit at a time, over a long year and a half, until my whole trip was laid out on the floor in front of the computer desk in my home office.
These are the very people who met me in the chat room many times, late at night after we’d all had a long day at work and they took time to encourage me. “Go, just GO!”, they said. “There will NEVER be a good time to go, so just go now! Why wait til next fall?” These are the same people, who taught me word by word, to say some simple phrases in Italian, so I could leave on my vacation with a small sense of hugely inflated false confidence.
Because I could speak the phrases out loud in the privacy of my home office, it never dawned on me that saying them out loud in Italy to a real live Italian-speaking person, in Florence, Caffe Principe, Murano Glass or Esselunga would be so intimidating and so uncomfortable that I would revert to my much-repeated and often mispronounced, “Mi scusi, mi scusi, io non parlano Italiano molto bene. Mi scusi, mi scusi.”
I take some time to read the messages from each person, and they bring back a flood of memories of our talks, either in the chat room or on the message board, and I’m profoundly grateful for their generosity of spirit and their good hearts.
Back home, I’m ready for bed, and fall asleep, while watching the night sky above my bed as Firenze passes under it.
Jet-lag sucks big-time.
Jet-lag makes a fool of the very best of people and a weeping fool of me. Next time, travelling through several time zones, I promise myself I will NOT do anything for the first 2 – 3 days, I will lay low, veg out, relax, rest and get my system into the time zone of whatever place I’m in, and I will NOT try to get up and go do stuff the very first day. I promise, I promise!
Best Things Today:
~ the lost are found!
~ finding my GEOX… is that any surprise?
~ the weather with texture…I can feel it on my face…
~ seeing those luscious Murano wineglasses… again…
~ my amazingly patient son…his gentle way of taking care of me
~ walking home in comfort… walking home happy
~ a simple dinner, at my marble-topped table
~ my Slowtrav buddies and their lovely posts on 'Ciao, Amici'
~ realizing how much a part of my taking this trip the Slowtrav community is
~ lying in my bed, under an open skylight, watching the stars.
Worst Things Today:
~ I can't think of a single thing! Amazing how one's perspective shifts, isn't it? Just wait a day and see the difference.
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