This story starts on December 20, 2010. I receive a gift – an opportunity to take an extended trip abroad, to any country I choose.
I decide to begin where I ended last, in Florence. But the gift was for three weeks, expenses paid, the longest I’ve been away from home my entire life. I buy a map that afternoon, and spend the evening walking my fingers across the European continent. Over an hour later it feels like I’ll never be able to decide, but my finger is already tracing a route from west to east. It stops, inexplicably …
… on Istanbul…
Istanbul? Well, after all, it was once the center of the European universe during the Roman and medieval periods, and the crossroads for trade from East to West for several centuries. So, Italy and Istanbul it is… my Crossroads Tour and my next grand solo adventure.
The next few months are filled with guidebooks and transportation schedules, and what would be failed attempts to learn even the most rudimentary of phrases in both Italian and Turkish. I am amused with my horoscope on April 3 – “a day for making plans and ‘symbolic beginnings’, and which favors trips and long journeys…”
- This is an excerpt from my original travel journal at AugustPhoenixHats.com
May 2011 – Return to Florence
And so it begins. My longest sojourn away from home is now officially underway.
The in-flight movies seem a better diversion than my book, so I watch ‘TRON,’ which is not Jeff Bridges’ best 1.5 hours. ‘The Tourist’ was great and I was surprised to see Sowel and Bettany in supporting roles. Bettany’s “Liechtenstein” line was a hilarious segue that you would only appreciate if you had seen him as Chaucer in ‘Knight’s Tale.’
I catch about three hours of sleep on the Seattle to Frankfurt flight. I wake up at 3:30 AM to see a blue and purple pre-dawn sky above the rugged, icy expanse of the Arctic.
We land in Frankfurt at about 9 AM Tuesday. Oh Frankfurt, how I am learning to hate you. A full body frisk and an alarm set off by a safety pin. Bin Ladin may be dead but his legacy lives on. After a flight delay, I finally land in Florence.
I catch a bus, and hop off near the address. It took me several minutes to remember that in Florence, B&B’s don’t have signs, you have to look for a labeled doorbell. Finally I find one for S. Frediano. But its the wrong S. Frediano. The one I want is further down the street, obscured by scaffolding.
I am surprised to find a 2-person lift here. My room has no ambiance or view but is adequate and has a small safe and a private bath. I find a garden in back with a bench under a grape arbor, where I am sitting as I write this. Calla lilies and iris are blooming here already. I write until dinnertime, then it’s a walk around the neighborhood, and early to bed for the adventures that await me tomorrow.
- This is an excerpt from my original travel journal. To read the full text, which includes historical notes and travel tips, please visit AugustPhoenixHats.com.