Sunday, November 29, 2009

11-1-08, Florence, Home


my last note until our next big adventure, on my own keyboard! ah the little things in life :) my last e-mail preceded an excellent meal at our friend's home. veronica and paolo have a lovely apartment overlooking a greenbelt and the distant florence skyline. very pretty home and good company. we showed up an hour early because we didn't know the time had changed (italy changes a week before us). oh well! our friends didn't say anything :)

i had to laugh when i read my first e-mail sent out. it said this would be a tame trip compared to others. hah! boy was i wrong. i feel as though i lived 6 weeks of adventure in 3 weeks time.

i have some odd residual memories that have lingered. i remember, as we rode through the western mountains of tuscany towards cinque terre, asking joe if that was snow? the mountains we passed were snowy white! then we noticed all of the marble factories and realized it was the famous white 'carrera' marble.

when i was a kid i worked at denio's farmers market with my mom. we would start work at 4-5 in the morning, rain or shine. near our florence apartment was a very similar street market. before dawn we could hear them pushing their carts down the cobblestone road to the marketplace. they would be there all day on the hard street selling leather purses and jackets, jewelry, ceramics, etc. and in the late evening when joe and i headed out for dinner they would be dragging their carts back to safety for the night.

there wasn't a lot of grass for dogs to do their 'business' on. we learned to look for piles on the sidewalks as we hustled along with the mass of humanity.

when i was hiking in cinque terre, from corniglia to vernazza, i got some minor stress fractures on my forefeet. the steps going down were frequently taller than normal and the stones eventually took their toll on my feet. note to self . . . next time bring thicker shoes with good cushion. i hobbled around for about 7 days because of the pain, but i just wouldn't let them heal. typical PT not following my own advice.

i think the weirdest thing was being charged a cover-charge to eat at a restaurant. here you are, paying for wine and full dinners, and they charge you 2 euros each to sit there! i asked one waitress what the cover-charge covered and she pointed to my paper place-mat and napkin, and the tablecloth. okay.

the uffizi art gallery was pretty cool. saw some famous artists, like michelangelo and di vinci paintings. but i think by then we had seen so much beautiful art we were overloaded. everything was starting to look the same. florence really has some of the most amazing art and musical talent i've ever seen or heard.

on the way home, we had a difficult time landing in paris because of the freezing temperatures and thick fog. we were stuck in a holding pattern for about 45 minutes over paris (i.e. blanket of fog). but it was really cool when the pilot came on and said to look out the left side of the plane (my side) and you could see the tip of the eiffel tower. sure enough there it was, amidst all that fog was the tip of the spear. it really was awesome. i don't know why, but i loved it!

next stop is probably the south-east mexican coast for more language school and our annual mission trip. until then, arrivederci e via con dios!

p.s. the reason we returned on the 30th was because my nephew graduated from the CHP academy on the 31st. he's now a real cop . . . badge, baton, gun, everything. i couldn't have been more proud of him. he looked so handsome in his uniform. it was a special moment when my brother presented him with my father's badge. he has been assigned to central L.A. not where i wanted him to go, but he's happy enough.

heidi and joe

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