Saturday, July 25, 2015

Europe Tour - Florence

My dark circles are beginning to become more prominent. I look like I've not slept in  days. Technically that's true, I've not had proper sleep since the tour started. I had great sleep in pretty nice hotels definitely, but not solid sleep. I do sleep in the bus, but everyone knows the body only considers those kinds of sleep as naps. So every morning, I wake up at 5.30-5.45 while my mum wakes up at 5. Bless her. My eyes are constantly tired in the morning and my brain feels like thick haze. I can think rather clearly but my body is sluggish. I.e I'm still asleep. On the contrary though, I think my thought process is more critical in this state, as in, more judgemental. Maybe my subconscious hates the world for making myself wake up so bloody early in the morning, but early mornings are no place for war, especially when you're on tour.
We stopped by a freeway stop at about five to ten. The place was freaking three storeys high, and of course the facilities had to be on the top floor. When we went to the toilets, there was already a double queue for the ladies. I decided that I could possibly hold my bladder for the next couple of hours so I bailed and let my grandma (who was a few people behind) take my place instead. I went back down to the hot and dusty road and waited under the shade of the trees. A couple of other tourers came back with some candy from the petrol station adjacent to it and told me that the toilets were also free (as in no euros needed). I thought I could hold it in. Besides they'd be a long line waiting for the ladies anyway. A couple minutes later, I decided to take the risk and ran to the station. I had ten minutes before we left. Luckily there wasn't a very long line, perhaps about 7 people? In no time I was in the toilet and out again, all in 5 minutes. I surprised the tourers who had also waited under the shade as I came back pretty quickly. One of them said 'that was quick!' And another, who has a very punny sense of humour added, 'no, she made it quick'. What did I tell ya. Hahahaha! We boarded the bus and continued on our merry way, with our bladders empty, to Florence. On the bus Howard showed us a video on the Siena Racing Festival (?) And a short funny clip on how Italians tell the time:
A man on a Vespa came riding down the dusty road, dressed rather smartly. He stopped and askes a farmer who was having a siesta next to his donkey what the time was. The farmer peeled open one eye, and then reached towards his donkey and cups its balls. "Almost 10 o clock", he said. Confused, the Vespa man asked again. Appearing slightly agitated at having his snooze interrupted, he lifted the donkey's balls and repeated the time. The Vespa man eyed the farmer in disbelief and reluctantly set his watch to the given time. When the Vespa man returned on the same road, he stopped in front of the farmer, who was still snoozing, and asked confidently for the time. "Again?" The farmer questioned and begrudgingly did the same action as he had before. "7.10". The Vespa man looked at his watch in shock and exclaimed, "It's exactly 7.10 on the dot! How can you tell by lifting your donkey's balls?" The farmer looked at him and turned to his donkey and lifted the balls. It showed that there was a clock tower located in the distance behind them, obscured by his donkey's balls.
My mum and I burst out laughing and continued on for the next agonizing 5 minutes of giggling. It was hilarious. It began to rain when we arrived at the coach stop. As Howard had mentioned, several people came to sell us ponchos and umbrellas but I already had mine. Anyway, Florence... well, in my opinion, isn't much, unless you go to the Academia to see David, which we didn't because we didn't think my grandma would enjoy walking around looking at butt naked marble figures. So, the rest of us who didn't go, went to Piazza S. Croche (what the map states) and we roamed around the various leather shops and vendors that sold very similar products for very similar prices. At 2.25pm, we regrouped with the rest and headed for Peruzzi, a leather chain that manufactures their own products, including the tanning process, etc. Apparently, good leather products shouldn't have such an overwhelming smell, as that would mean that the tanning process wasn't done correctly. In otherwords, cheap counterfits. Also, as it's calf skin, one shouldn't expect the product to be perfect, like a pearl. Natural pearls aren't perfectly round, like how leather isn't perfectly crease and dent free.
My mun bought some stuff for my grandparents (her parents) and a belt for herself. I saw this leather-bound book which was absolutely gorgeous. I'd love to get one, but conditions do not permit me to buy heavy stuff. So I didn't get anything. We then had free time to do whatever we liked, but since we've already walked around the square, there wasn't much left to see, so we just chilled on the stone benches until 5.50pm
From the square, we walked to our coach about 10 minutes away. I chatted with Krizelle, a Cali girl and told her about how school was in Malaysia. We've noticed that by now, nearly everyone was very comfortable with each other, being more open with jokes and banter. Compared to the first day of tour, we now seem like one big, happy family, with Howard and Peter like our parents. HAHA! Imagine having to take care of 52 children. I bet that's what it must feel like as a tour director. We aren't the most easy group to deal with. We arrive late, always asking the same questions several times, making him repeat stuff several times and we still get it wrong - I really do respect him and his incredible patience with us. Even makes me feel bad when we're late.
We had a 3 course dinner which was not bad, but the company was better. Our table was one of the rowdiest, thanks to my mum and her contagious laughter. Even Howard and Peter turned to look with curiosity and Howard came over to see what was all the noise, which made us laugh even more! It was a wonderful night. We got to share views with each other which was wonderful and heartwarming. We decided to call it a night at 9.30 and I retreated to my room for a shower and after that, spent some quiet time watching the moon and the stars on the balcony while enjoying the gentle, cool breeze. Florence can never be as beautiful as it can be right now.

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