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.