Monday 24 December 2007


This morning we took delivery of the spiral staircase that will go from our super duper new bedroom up to our new super duper dressing room/gym. As my dearly beloved is not feeling up to parr I was quite alarmed that the delivery man would need help to off load the stairs. He assured me that he only wanted to know where to put it.

I called my husband and when he came down the driver said “what’s up mate, flu?”. My husband replied “no, I had a tumour removed from my bladder last week”. I thought the guy was going to feint. He blurted out “blimey mate, that really is unwell”. This made us laugh. Black humour in the middle of trauma.

On a lighter note Wife in the North’s recent post “Postcard from Frankfurt” reminded me of a trip we took to Florence. We decided to stay in idyllic sounding hillside ex-monastery. Well it sounded great on t’internet! In reality the rooms were very monk like, but who wants to live like a monk (apart from a monk of course)! To be fair though, the views were to die for and the bill was very up-market.

To get into Florence we had to catch a dirty Italian train filled with dirty Italian commuters, having first purchased our tickets from the unfathomable ticket machine. Each morning was a challenge.

On the third morning we had booked to go on a guided tour that left from outside the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence at 0900. This meant that we would have to leave early in the morning and eat at McD’s before hopping on the tour bus. Our friend eats by the clock and was alarmed that we might miss-time our arrival in Florence and he would then, God forbid, be too late for breakfast.

When the train pulled into the station I had a strange foreboding. The destination on the train was unfamiliar but it did say Florence. I expressed my doubts but our friend said why wouldn’t it be going to where we wanted. It said Florence? There was no arguing with this logic so on we climbed. Sure enough we eventually stopped at Campo di Marte, which was the stop before ours, but to my horror everyone got off. This made me very, very twitchy, but again our friend re-assured us that we must be on the right train because we had passed through this station before. Where else would it be going but Florence. Wrong!!

It pulled out of the station and did a sharp right turn. Now this was certainly not right. Not to worry though, we would just get off at the next station and catch a taxi back. Wrong!!

We disembarked at the next station. It was a very big station with many platforms but absolutely no human presence at all. Zinch. No staff, no telephon and certainly no cab rank. We were stuck in a wilderness in the middle of a huge Italian city with 15 minutes to get to our very expensive prepaid guided tour with our ravenous panicky friend breathing down our necks. Impossible? I would have thought so, but we were, after all, in Italy.

It’s a long story, but suffice to say that our route back to our destination involved a man sitting reading his morning paper in the sun, who spoke no English, miraculously conveying to us that we could get to where we needed to go by bus, but first we had to purchase tickets from the coffee kiosk (don’t ask) and then catch the No.4 bus. I seemed to be the only one of our party that understood the coffee kiosk bit, so while they hared off to main road to catch the bus, I took off in the opposite direction for the kiosk.

A mad, hungry friend is a powerful incentive to get him to food, quickly, and I knew where the bus tickets were sold. They thought I had gone mad until I finally caught up with them clutching four bus tickets in my hand. OK, the No.4 bus - but going in which direction? I ran up to a young man at the bus stop who was a student from Poland and spoke perfect English (as they all do, are we the only clueless idiots in the EU?) and took pity on us, so much so that he insisted on accompanying us to the place where we were to catch the guided tour just in time to pile onto the bus, on time but foodless!

As luck would have it our first stop was at a stunning view on the hill overlooking Florence that happened to be near a café. Unfortunately food took precedence over tour and we had wonderful croissants, coffee and, more important, a contented friend. The day was saved.

Merry Christmas everyone.


laurie said...

i gotta say, trip disaster (or near-disaster) stories are always the most interesting ones.

if you'd gotten off the train in the right place and made your tour with full bellies, you'd probably barely remember the experience.

merry christmas, retired and crazy!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Lovely Blog! I remember a similar experience, also in Florence a couple of years ago - it does make the trip memorable. Hope you had a good Christmas, Margot xx said...

You are so right Laurie, my most memorable happenings have started of as disasters. What does that say for me? I know, crazy! said...

Yes thanks Margot, we had a typical Senior Citizen chrismas and we loved it.