Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ah, modern life

There's a bird here that has a call that sounds like a mobile ringing in the bag of someone two seats in front of you on the bus.

San Gimignano is famous for being a well-preserved medieval town. Once, it had dozens of towers; now, it has only seven. Not counting the crane. (What are they building in there?).

My first view of the town, over hills with vines and olive groves, was beautifully enhanced by the sight of the provicial prison, and a pass made by two low-flying fighter jets.

But I'm not bitter. Just a little grumpy still from the week of bad weather that only let up as I got to Volterra. Rolled in there nearing 6, getting dark and cold. I find the hostel shut, and don't much fancy walking a couple miles back out of town to the campsite. So I go to the tourist info office, where they confirm that the hostel is closed, but that there's a convent I can stay at. WOOHOO, and Hot-diggety! Turns out it's just a seminary, but I got my own room for hostel price. In the morning I went down to breakfast to find the hall full, unespected for a weekday in off season. Everyone's speaking some slavic language or other. So I'm drinking my coffee, trying to decide whether to try conversation in Italian or English. Suddenly they're all singing! I remind you this was in a seminary, with great arched ceiling, solid acoustics; it sounded glorious. Yay. I found out they're Hungarian, by the bag that held the gift they gave to the fellow who seemed to run the accomodation. In the end, English worked better than Italian, but French got a look in as well.

Several times in the last couple of days people have switched back to Italian after an initial salvo in English with me, which feels pretty good. Even though my vocabulary is still lousy, at least I'm on the right track accent-wise. I need to start learning the conditional, and the future might be handy too, though for the moment I don't have much of one.

No, because now that I'm on my last scheduled rest day, in Siena, I've got only 8 days of walking left (knock on wood), putting me in Rome on the 20th. Which isn't a momen too soon. I'm SOOO ready to go home. But I'll enjoy the last stretch while considering the 4 options for getting back.

1)Combination of hithc/bus/train. Lots of hassle, potientially expensive, but good in that I'd get to visit people in Germany and Paris perhaps.

2)Fly. Probably the cheapest and least hassle, but also the worst environmentally and no fun at all.

3)Buy a Vespa P200 in Rome, ride it back. This is definitely the coolest option but I need help with it. What will the import tax be? Where can I find a cheap one? Will my Canadian class 5 driver's license be enough?

4)Sail the seas. Ferry from Civitavecchia to Barcelona, around to Portugal somehow, on to the Island. Very classy, possibly expensive.

I promised myself I wouldn't book anything until I got to Rome, so weigh in with tips if you've got'em.

Also, noting the date I get to Rome, I should be back to London in time for the next Pick Me Up party, on the 26th, somewhere on Wardour Street. Want to welcome me back? Get yourself there. For a flyer, get yourself on the Pick Me Up Put Me Down list and it should come in the next week or so. And you'll like the list if you like me, I suspect.

I normally like Rob Brezsny, and while he had a wrong spell with me last winter, he's been back on form lately. This week is eerily on, as I'd planned to do something violent to the cheap watch I bought just before leaving London.

Why do I always end up climbing towers on my rest days? And why did it have to be only my last rest day that was rain free (so far, knock on wood again)?

Bought my second book of the trip today. Wasn't going to read anything, but I've stopped diarizing (hence non-sequiturs aplenty) and needed something to make me happy in the evening. So in Forte dei Marmi I picked up 'The Shadow-Line' (Conrad), which this the job a treat, but I'd finished it by the time I got to Pisa. Today, I opted for 'Invisible Cities' (Calvino) because one of the first lines is 'In the lives of emperors there is a moment which follows pride in the boundless extension of territories we have conquered, and the melancholy and relief of knowing we shall soon give up any thought of knowing and understanding them.' which I read at first with 'travellers' for 'emperors'. I wanted something to last me all the way to Rome but I have a feeling this'll be an even quicker read than the Conrad. 'The Portable Dante' (including all of the Divine Comedy on top of La Vita Nuova) would have been ideal but isn't quite portable enough for my shoulders tastes.

Finally, did I do anything in particular to get front-paged by Blogger? I hope there isn't someone out there expecting a pay-off, cause I'm gonna be the one mooching when I get home.


Blogger Amy said...

I stopped by your blog b/c my cousin's name was/is Arthur & I wanted to see what your blog was about. What a neat idea. And a brave one too. Haven't read all the posts yet, but kudos to you thru this endeavor.

5:00 pm BST  
Blogger Christina said...

Why have you stopped diarizing? Are you diarized out?

All your options for getting home sound decent, even the flying. Let me know if you want some particular internet research done.

Not sure who you owe for the "blogs of note" mention, but I found a couple of interesting links to you:

Walking Europe (from's Europe for Visitors)
Mayopants has some journal entries Brett's walk across Spain on El Camino de Santiago last May/June.
Based on the entry, it seems linked you, but I can't get that site to load.

5:58 pm BST  
Blogger Christina said...


- yay for the Tom Waits reference
- I hope the remaining rest-free days to Rome are also rain-free and that you're getting enough sleep.

6:00 pm BST  
Blogger zoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:12 pm BST  
Blogger zoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:14 pm BST  
Blogger zoe said...

Hey Arthur,
I guess half the people who read your blog wish they were in your shoes.

6:15 pm BST  
Blogger abhas1 said...

hey, I was just browsing around, until I came around here.
This blog is really great, especially this post. your style is cool too!

please check out my blog and give me some tips :

thanks a lot!

6:20 pm BST  
Blogger alex said...

great post....excellent...

6:28 pm BST  
Blogger kristin said...

I am so jealous of your adventure that I'm shaking.

7:14 pm BST  
Blogger K. said...

Hello, I'm a fellow montrealer who just happened to fall on your blog, it's really really cool! I'll be following your travels :)

7:52 pm BST  
Blogger Giulia said...

hi I'm an italian girl and it's quite strange to read something about my country written by a foreign boy... well, your trip will be wonderful and I adore Calvino: read "Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore", it's marvellous... if you speak italian you can visit my blog... bye

8:31 pm BST  
Blogger Id it is said...

'Bed in the bush with stars to see
bread I dip in the river
There's the life for a man like me there's the life forever'

Great way to go!
Nice blog. I'm glad you're frontpaged.

9:16 pm BST  
Blogger Chef Bouillon said...

Oh, you lucky man! Sienna is gorgeous. This is a pretty cool plan you've got going here. I would go for the bike to get back, definitely the coolest option. I understand about the taxes and all and it could get quite expensive. Just buy a cheap bike! Have fun and be safe for the rest of the journey!

9:30 pm BST  
Blogger R2K said...

Great blog :)


9:50 pm BST  
Anonymous christina said...

And also:

- I think I am falling in love with you from your posts
- I hope the that you will consider coming to Bristol, England and meeting me.

10:00 pm BST  
Blogger Christina said...

Loser who impersonated me:

a) he's my brother
b) I'm no longer in Bristol
c) Fuck off.

10:56 pm BST  
Blogger Trav3ler said...

Keep up the good work!

1:52 pm BST  
Anonymous Léonie said...

I was wandering around Oxford today and realized you must be arriving in Rome sometime soon. I suspect that by the time you read this, you'll will have already finished the Calvino. (its good stuff for traveling). Sorry the picture sending didn't work out.
For getting back, I say go for the vespa, but make sure you are willing to work on it. And make sure you are up for the effort; it can be hard balancing big bags on bikes. Im not sure about the licence thing, but you could always borrow my california motorcyle learners permit.
Now that you are famous, can you give me a psuedonym.

5:28 pm BST  
Anonymous s-r * said...

If you're on a Calvino kick, I suggest The Castle of Crossed Destinies, especially if yer stayin' in convents. It's unfortunately also a really quick read, though. Maybe pick up a copy in Italian, might make it last longer. Also, if you can do it, I think you'd officially be the coolest person in the world if you walked to Rome and rode back on a Vespa. Enjoy your week! Love, s-r.

5:55 pm BST  
Blogger Alex said...

Wow...whate a compelling blog. I haven't read all of them, but you are now in my favorites.
Also, I would love for you to visit a site I found. It appears they are seeking contributors and your writing would fit perfectly with what they are doing. Check it out:

5:27 am BST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Arthur and Christina are insestual!

3:08 pm BST  
Blogger R2K said...

What is a mobile?


3:37 pm BST  
Blogger DSK said...

What a cool blog! Good luck on your final leg, can't wait to hear more.
I just started, and I'd love some pointers. Thanks.

12:54 am BST  
Blogger Adam said...

Idiot Americans consume Germanic music, becuase it somehow sets them apart from the rest of the twits who inhabit the country. Although they consider themselves superior to te rap/pop crowd, in reality, they are also shitheads.

1:36 am BST  
Blogger Theresa Tate said...

Go fellow Canadian - you rock!
Kiss the holy ground for me when you get to Rome:)

2:24 pm BST  
Blogger charles blunt said...

Interesting blog . Almost as interesting as the comments .

10:17 pm BST  
Blogger loStwaNderer said...

Was browsing around when I happening to read your post. Your adventures inspire me in someway and like everyone I hope I’m in your shoe now. I will be finishing my studies soon maybe I will do a little wandering myself. Anyway good luck and bon voyage!

4:36 am BST  
Blogger Cameron Lawrence said...

Riding a Vespa back would be worth the hassle, even if you had to work on it. I mean, how could you end such a unique experience with something as generic as a flight? In the end it doesn't matter, but that's my vote. Blessings.

4:56 am BST  
Blogger Rocky (Racquel) said...

Love your blog and sense of adventure! I did the Camino de Santiago in 2001 and am considering checking out the Netherlands next year. Best to you!

6:30 pm BST  
Blogger R2K said...

How about arthurs next post?



11:34 pm BST  
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1:20 am BST  
Blogger Matthew Ward said...

Great blog - really nothing more to say :o)

7:17 am BST  
Blogger Ring said...

Very interesting site, keep up the good work!!

10:32 am BST  
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Nice work.
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6:39 am BST  
Blogger Brandon Anthony said...

Diaries really aren't that interesting... unless done right. I'm glad someone can do tham right.

7:52 pm BST  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're on a Calvino kick, I suggest The Castle of Crossed Destinies, 家居服
文胸 especially if yer stayin' in convents. It's unfortunately also a really quick read, though. Maybe pick up a copy in Italian, might make it last longer. Also, if you can do it, I think you'd officially be the coolest person in the world if you walked to Rome and rode back on a Vespa. Enjoy your week! Love, s-r.

GiftGifts Presents Job Jobs 求職 禮品
giftI wanted to see what your blog was about. What a neat idea. And a brave one too. Haven't read all the posts yet, but kudos to you thru this endeavor.

7:32 am GMT  

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