after a relaxing week in Florence, I'm flying to London tonight. I really liked the campground I stayed in this week, even though it rained all last night and yesterday. It was actually good, because it cooled the temperature down a little! Since I had been wanting to spend a week on the beaches in Greece, doing very little other than reading, I wasn't super excited about being in Florence, which is surrounded by mountains and had no beaches :-( I ended up walking around the city a little each day (except the first day, when I was catching up on sleep that I missed out on because of the overnight train!). I was feeling pretty introverted this week, and was not really in the mood to fight tourists, so I tried to avoid the touristy areas as much as possible... which means that I didn't do much touristy stuff. I did a lot of people watching and talking to people at the campground, though, and read a lot. I'm excited to be heading to London tonight and know I'll have a good time there. I think the weather is much better for me, even though it could rain every day, because it won't be so hot. Look for an email this weekend talking about what I experienced in London!
I will leave you with a funny story, though. As I was looking through my journal a couple nights ago, I realized that I didn't tell you the story of my friend Gregore Gabriel (or was it Gabriel Gregore?). When I was in Rome with Ellen and Frederick, we had one very funny night. First, we went to a small, less touristy part of town called Trastevere (I think that's how you spell it) to eat dinner. We found a very cute restaurant in a little alley and ordered some delicious red wine of the house and pizza (we were trying to be really 'Italian', I suppose...). The food was really good and filling, and we decided to walk around a little bit to work off the food, then find a pub and have one last beer before catching the last bus back to the city center and the place where we were staying. Well, things do not always cooperate with your plan (especially on this trip!)... While walking along the main road in Trastevere on the way to the bus stop, Frederick was stopped by a guy who looked our age and was standing next to a car that had its hood (bonnet) up. Ellen and I had been lagging behind, talking about something, and when we caught up, we realized that this guy knew no English and Frederick knew no Italian, but they were talking to each other just fine. By the smell of things, the car had simply overheated, so Ellen and I tried talking to this guy in broken Italian (Ellen had learned Italian for a year in high school) and Spanish. He told us his name was Gregore or Gabriel (I really am not sure which was his first name, or if he had two first names or what) and that that day 'yo e amore mio kaputt'. Ellen and I figured that he had broken up with his girlfriend that day, which was just fantastic, because here he was with a broken down car. Ellen and I tried a few times to stop people on the street and ask them if they spoke English and Italian so they could translate what we were trying to say to Gregore. Nobody ended up being helpful, so we eventually just went into the restaurant that was right next to where the car was parked (that was seemingly full of ROMANS that Gregore could have asked for help, who spoke ITALIAN... guess it wasn't that obvious to him though!) and asked for some water to put in the car. We filled the tank for water (which was fun to find, because it was written in German on the cap, and the only book of car instructions in the car was about the air conditioning, which was in Italian and German) with the water from the restaurant, but unfortunately heard it all dripping out pretty quickly under the car. Well, Gregore wanted to see it closer, so he whips out his lighter and gets on his hands and knees to look under the car with an OPEN FLAME. Ellen and I ran for cover while Frederick kept telling him, 'no fire! no fire near car!'. It was freaking hilarious (in retrospect, because at the time, we really thought he was going to somehow blow up his car)! Finally we convinced Gregore to park his car on the side of the road near where we were and just come back and get it the next day.
You may think this story is over, but no, ladies and gentlemen - it is just beginning....
So Gregore wants to thank us for helping him (did we even really help him that much? I guess!) so we walk along the road and we all sit down for a beer. It was actually pretty cool to be carrying on a conversation with Gregore in broken Italian, Spanish and English, with the random German word. As it turns out, Gregore's girlfriend is German, and had come to Rome for a couple days to visit before they were to fly to France for a month the following day. Sadly, Gregore broke up with her (at least that's what we think happened, he kept saying 'culpe mio', which is similar to Spanish) and she wouldn't answer the phone when he called her like every 10 minutes. After the first beer, Ellen and Frederick decide to buy another round, so we sit there for a little while longer and talk some more. Gregore decides we should see the beach, which isn't that far from where we were (apparently...). I was like 'how do we get there? there's no more busses' to which Gregore said that he'll drive his broken down car after two large beers. Riiiiight... Ellen and Frederick were like 'it's an adventure!' whereas I was like 'broken car + 2 large beers = I don't see us coming out of this alive!' So, we get in the car, which had cooled off by then, and drive in the direction away from the city center, where we were staying. After about 5 minutes, the car overheats again and we have to pull over. We're in the middle of this residential district, far away from central Rome, with a broken down car. Gregore is surprisingly still in a good mood, despite this possibly being the worst day of his life, and decides to open the trunk (boot) of the car and get out the beach umbrella and towels for him and Frederick to bask under the artificial lights in the parking lot. Ellen took some pictures, then Gregore decided he wanted to get some more beer. Well, by this point, it was like 3:00 am, I was tired and not in the mood for more beer, but what else could we do? We walked along the road and found a shop open (which I think must have been a miracle of this bizarre night, because things just aren't open that late in Italy!) and bought some beers. We walked a little along the road until we found a park and stopped there to drink the beers. Yum... When nobody was looking, I 'accidentally' knocked over my beer and kept 'clumsily' not being able to pick it up until all the beer was gone... It was all very cute and romantic for the four of us to be sitting on this park bench, facing the fountain. Ellen and Frederick were talking and somewhat cuddling, and I was on the other end of the bench, with Gregore. It was funny to try to talk, but I kept asking questions about what happened with his girlfriend and talking as much as I possibly could about Gonzalo, just in case Gregore needed to be reminded every two minutes that I have a boyfriend. At one point, Gregore told me I should be going to France with him the next day, and that he'd pay for everything. I refused a few times, but we were interrupted by Ellen deciding that she needed a bath or was hot (or something) because she got up and started walking around in the fountain. Frederick got up and started doing it too, and everyone was done with their beer, so we decided to leave the park and get our butts back to the city center. We found a taxi sitting by the side of the road and went back to the main train station to say goodbye to Gregore and walk to the place we were staying that night. We later compared stories and realized that Gregore was supposed to meet his girlfriend at the train station at 5:00 am, which we think is why he didn't want to go home to sleep or anything, just go to the beach and party all night.
So, I guess I should wrap it up about the Gregore story now. It was hilarious while it was happening, and still ridiculous when I think about it in retrospect. It was just one of those random things that you can't explain and never can expect... I hope that doesn't happen too many more times on this trip! Between the Gregore and the missing the ferry to Greece events, I don't think I need any more drama on this trip!
Here's hoping I make it to my youth hostel (backpackers) in London ok tonight and have a relatively uneventful trip to the UK!