Friday, February 11, 2011

Florence Storm

I went to Florence again just before Christmas for a few days.  It was a pretty routine trip, through Amsterdam which is always easy, but during the big European snow storm that had much of the airports shut down for a while.

I do love having a good, complimentary wine selection :-)  On one trip they had a wine they described as having notes "of wet gravel" which I thought was hilarious.  Didn't get the "wet gravel" sense myself, lol

-84F !  Yikes.  I had to have more wine to steel myself against the terror of freezing during an accidental depressurization ;-)

At the hotel I was able to get my wireless network going so I had good access for my phone and notebook - nice. I carry my Airport Express router with me everywhere I go.

I was in a rush to get a Calzone as soon as I got there :-)  This one came with a very cloudy house wine that turned out to be just OK,  I was surprised - usually I've liked every wine in Italy. This was a pretty meaty/cheesy loaded sort of a tourist spot calzone, because it was an early dinner and the first few restaurants we tried were not open yet. The ones I've had outside the tourist areas were much simpler.

When I first went to Italy the only fat people I noticed were Americans (Not ME!! lol).  I wondered why... so paid attention for a few trips:

* There was a McDonald's but very few people in it.
* At meals, only the Americans drank sodas.
* The pizzas and calzones generally have very little cheese, meat and are thin crusted.
* The Italians tended to order pizzas like the Margherita - just tomatoes and cheese.
* They walk. A lot.

Our co-workers had wanted us to stay at the plant for lunch, but it was going to be a long wait with nothing to do and the food is not that great in the cafeteria, so we headed out for the above mentioned calzone... which turned out to be fortuitous because it began to snow.  By the time we walked back to the hotel the cabs had quit running. After trying to get a cab for 30 minutes or so, I suddenly realized that if we DID manage to get back to work....  How would we get home?  When I called the plant to tell them we were not coming back from lunch they were put out, but later they told us stories of how it took them all night to get home.

Lots of abandoned scooters in 7 inches of snow.  The buses just stopped wherever they were, which I first thought was a little irresponsible, but thinking about it - they probably didn't have parking for all the buses anyway as they would expect them to be on the road.  It really jammed up the town.  Then it began to rain which REALLY shut things down when the packed snow turned to ice.  My friend Tina walked 6 miles home, uphill to Fiesole, through the snow and ice. Yuk.

There were lots of people out walking in the snow.  Some kids were having a snowball fight across this piazza (Piazza del Duomo, I think).  They could have used an experienced Alaskan battle planner (one side was ripe to be flanked), but I just waded through, yelling "non-combatant". 

Baby Jesus was OK, since they don't put him out until Christmas eve. This is Santa Maria Novella.

I don't know what this scooter is, but it looked good for getting around in the snow.

Sunrise from hotel dining room.

After it rained a few days, the snow was gone but it was still cold - with a humid breeze that cut into you.  I was glad to have my winter boots, gloves and a hat.

This is in the kitchen where my friend was staying.  Dated around 1500?  In a house on the river from the 1200s.  It's concave and painted right on the wall.

When it was time to go home (just a few days before Christmas), the weather was not good.  The airport was closed for snow for a couple days, then closed a couple mornings for fog.  At this time most of Germany was shut down, Amsterdam was up and down,  DeGaulle was shut down.  I tried to get a direct flight to New York out of somewhere nearby, but couldn't.  I checked into taking the train to Zurich but it was a 24 hour ride. My co-worker went to Amsterdam as soon as possible to be sure he could get out of Florence, but the forecast was for increasing temps so I thought the fog would be OK the next day.  Also, I've made changes over flight delays and jumped from the frying pan into the fire once I lost my original reservation.

In the end, the airports and planes were crowded, but I made my original itinerary no problem.  There were people stuck other places for as much as a week I heard. But I didn't even have a delay :-)