Anyway, after nibbles and getting shat on by a seagull, i took the ferry back north one island, which is this one. The bus takes about 10 minutes to travel end to end - there is just one road that follows the seawall. Literally, the island is just a seawall with a beach on one side and a block of houses on the other. There is no one here. It's awesome. Walking along the beach i feel a million miles away.
These are the best places. Quiet, isolated, free - but accessible by public transport and with plenty of bars nearby.
It's weird to watch the container ships pass knowing that in a few weeks i will be on one.
I am back in the first bar i visited in Venice. I was an Italy noob when i got here. Now i feel like a pro. Here's my tip: don't sit down. Ever. Stand at the bar, drink your coffee. Stand at the bar, drink your beer. Stand at the bar, get a tapa. Eat peanuts and olives. Sitting is for the weak. And the rich.
Standing (sigh) here listening to Puerto Rican hip-hop i realize Spain is still my true love of Europe. They do the same shit but lazier. They sit when they get tapas. They don't dress up. Even the language feels lazier. I am starting to pick up enough Italian to get by, but it's actually an effort to speak. You need to push your voice up and down and gesticulate. I miss Andalucía where the more you mumbled the better people understood.
This trip is getting hideously expensive. I am not really a fan of traveling on a shoestring. I'll sacrifice a little cash for quality of life. For instance, i am on a 50€ train instead of a 40€ one that left 2 hours later. But it does annoy me a little that it costs 50€ in the first place. And - even more - it annoys me that there is no hotel in Florence, or Siena, or Arezzo for under 60€ a night. It's not cool to have such a big gap between hostels and hotels.
So now it's time to talk about privacy. A couple of entries ago benicek helpfully suggested a hostel in Venice, but... eh. I know that hostels are not only cheaper than hotels but also come with a built-in social network and maybe even a kitchen and laundry. That saves even more money! But the cost is your privacy.
It might sound odd coming from someone who posts their most personal thoughts on the internet for all to see, but i am a very private person. Or, more to the point, i absolutely need solitude to be able to recharge. Every time i interact with someone it costs me a spoon. Whether that is a friend or a family memeber or a stranger it doesn't matter. I am far from antisocial and few would call me introverted, but when i am out of spoons i am done. I do not want to have to deal with anyone when i am done. I just want to be alone - to be free.
Perhaps it's some kind of neurosis or anxiety disorder. I don't know. I have no problem taking public transport or sleeping on a plane or striking up conversation with strangers all over the world. But i need time to myself too. At least several days a week. That's why i don't want to stay in a hostel. I am happy in the tiniest, dirtiest flop as long as for the time i pay for it it's mine.
Which brings me back to cost. It's sad when accommodation prices in a city get to a point where you need to make a pretty serious investment just to have some privacy for the night. In places like NYC and Toronto it is well and truly there already. But i kinda hoped Europe wasn't there yet. Certainly in the places i have visited in Spain and Germany it's not. But so far on this trip it seems the entry fee for privacy is 60€. So unless i absolutely adore Tuscany, my next stop will be Sicily. I hope the south of Italy is a bit cheaper. And perhaps a bit more like Spain - shabby and relaxed.
I am at a pretentious cocktail bar in Firenze on my third drink. There is very little that i will frivolously throw money away on, but hard liquor is one of those things. Yes, i am a cocktail snob, and here they are making them right.
I figured out why it's so goddamn expensive right now, by the way. It's a triple holiday over here. Easter last week. Liberation Day this week. Labor Day next week. The clerk at my hotel explained all this to me while circling the neighborhoods i should visit to get a drink. He also pointed out "the tourist area" with the implication not to visit. (I did. It was much, much less awful than Venice.) And he told me to try the local speciality - a lampredotto sandwich. But today i am staying vegan. It's Friday, after all. Plus i finally found a vegan restaurant in a piazza scrawled with anarchist and antifa graffiti. Living off of crusty bread and fresh fruit and antipasti sounds very Italian and romantic in theory, but sometimes you just want to eat a big fat burger. Or, you know, maybe tomorrow a panini with cow stomach.
Anyway, Florence is the fucking bomb.
Guess what, everyone? I have a raging hangover. Again. It's 11:30 and i can't get out of bed. So much for visiting the Tuscan countryside. But, to be honest, i discovered that everything is closed on Sunday, so if i want to eat something that isn't train station food i have to do it today. I asked the guy at the lampredotto kiosk when he was open and he said 14:00 is the end of everything, which was echoed by the hotel clerk when i rolled in around that time yesterday.
Last night i met a sommelier who 20 years ago had given up law to follow her passion. I wish i had the guts to do that. Though i am not sure what my passion really is other than traveling about aimlessly. She was a close friend of one of the bartenders and had dropped by because it was his birthday. We all had a lot to drink. She described how after years of being with men she is now dating a woman. It must be quite something to only realize you are bi in your 40s. She laughed when she heard i was vegan but wanted to eat lampredotto. She said i should also try ribolitta, which is soup or stew made with bread and vegetables. She sort of apologized that it was poor food, like i would prefer some kind of pretentious haute cuisine. I most assuredly would not. I only get pretentious with my cocktails. Bread soup sounds amazing.
Florence is so, so much nicer than Venice, by the way. The main islands of Venice felt like a theme park (which i guess is great if you like theme parks) and the suburbs felt a little empty and sad. Still interesting to visit, of course - i don't think i've ever regretted visiting anywhere - but not a place i would want to live. Florence feels very livable. Lots of bars, lots of restaurants, lots of people just sitting around in the park, drinking beer, reading books, hanging out...
Which is what i should be doing right now. I am starving. I am a little trepidatious of feeding my hangover offal. I think i shall have a shower then walk out and see how i feel when i get out to the piazzas.