Back to Italy: Cinque Terra, Venice and Florence

Trip Start Aug 20, 2005
Trip End May 06, 2006

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'm back in Italy, this time to see Cinque Terra, Venice and Florence. I managed to arrive to Nice exhausted and leave in the same state.

First night I arrived in Nice, tired and antisocial but made an effort and ate dinner with a table that looked chatty and happy. I sat down eating my Muslie and yoghurt(a regular dish in my travels)and the next thing I knew, this German guy starts freaking out and making terrible faces as if i was sloppily eating a pigs heart with my bare hands.

I thought this guy must be kidding, ignored him and continued, then still gagging he loudly moved across the long table and continued his faces. Now this was getting weird, I thought. Everyone was laughing at him, but he insisted it was no laughing matter and mumbled something about his mom feeding it to him as a child and some kind of trauma.

By the end of the week I managed to do an intervention with him over breakfast one morning. We chose the flooding technique and I gently ate my yoghurt and Muesli sitting right across the table from him as we pretended nothing was wrong and attempted to carry on a normal conversation. He asked me how he did, and I reassured him that he did great and that it was going to be okay. He was happy and explained he had a few more phobias to get over in the time he had allotted for his travels, next one; flying.

He also had a cute German friend who I scouted the day I arrived. I thought if was going to go through with my plan, which was to get the New Yorker, Brook, out of my head, this guy would do the trick quite nicely. Turns out the last night in Nice my plans came together like clockwork. But my lesson that I should have learned by now, looks can be terribly deceiving. A bit of a dud to say the least...and I was reminded of the certain phrase from a certain someone that rings true in this instance....'Nice' guys do finish last.

Cinque Terra:

It is a must see, preferably in the summer although we were very lucky and had amazing weather. It is five fishing villages connected by paths winding through the villages and forests, protected by Unesco. We hiked along The two paths as the others were closed due to landslides and it was beautiful. Not much action took place in Cinque Terra at this time of the year so it was a nice place to enjoy nature and that I did.

Italian men...
After being in Italy for that one week in October, I never could figure out the big deal with Italian men. Now in Italy for the second time this time, solo, I found out that Venice is where all the gorgeous men seemed to congregate. I now know why we all have that romantic ideal of the men here in Italy. Later to find out, Florence is a good place aswell.

It was late when we (Ryan the aussie and I) arrived at the Venice Train station and we hadn't booked a hostel, but were quite confident it couldn't be that hard in a famous city like this. So after getting turned down twice, walking around the winding unmarked streets, with our heavy packs and the freezing air cutting through our bones we opted for the safe chose, International hostel that was on another island and probably more institutional than any other types of hostels around. Never had such an ordeal to find a place to stay, but I guess it can't always be easy.

So the next moring when the lights turned on automatically at the hostel, as all these HI hostels do, I awoke with a big smile and excited to be a tourist again.
For some reason, Venice seemed rather surreal and couldn't believe I was here. I Walked the streets and caught the small ferries around the city, my eyes peeled in awe of the unique city. I didn't do a gondola ride, my budget couldn't handle it but, I did get a taste of the canals via my unlimited day pass on the ferry busses. Next day I figured Venice was worthy of my film camera so I pulled that out and shot a few rolls before I caught the train to Florence. Oh, can't forget the Peggy Guggenheim. A beautiful house she used to live in, converted into a contemporary gallery right on the grand canal. All the big shots, Picasso, Dali and Kandinsky, defiantly quality not quantity.

Canadian flags:

At the Florence train station I was greeted by a Canadian welcoming comity which consisted of a guy and a girl from Halifax. Very friendly they were, as all us Canadians are know for:) They said they do this when there bored. They were staying at a cheap hotel and couldn't seem to meet anyone because they weren't in a hostel environment, where us backpackers find most of our companions. So we went for coffee right away and caught up as if we were old friends. They were travelling for 4 weeks and were had had just about enough of the backpacking life. They couldn't believe I had been on the road for 3 months and still counting. From my understanding thier idea of backpacking seemed rather luxurious compared to mine. Guess this stuff isn't for everyone.

I check into the hostel and had in mind another one but decided that I give this one a try. So after a few days of sight seeing in Florence, wandering the markets with the crisp smell of itailian leather in the air and all of the great museums sprinkled with a famous piece of art in each, I decided it was just as entertaining to listen to all the tourists comments on the art works as viewing the peices themselves.

One couple walked briskly past the David and muttered to each other in a hurry, 'there I've seen it' and kept on walking. Many people just check it off the list, but me, I sat for an hour and sketched the beautiful man. After that got old, I ventured to the Uffizi, popped in my Ipod and took in the sights of the birth of Venus with Ani Defranco singing in my ears. A refreshing contrast.

After my encounter with David I was absolute freezing. Back home at the hostel, we cracked open a nice bottle of vodka to warm us up. The next day, I found I had a new place to stay and it wasn't the other hostel. I found a new Italian friend who ran the business I was staying at. We enjoyed a few days together in Florence; he thought I was crazy as I did of him and tomorrow I will say goodbye to Italy and Marco.

Back to UK for me. First stop, Petersfield where I began my journey with the Whites. And from there, well, I'm still putting all the pieces together for the next 6 months.
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