Monday, October 15, 2012

Shmitally Day 1-2

Hey, so we’re back from Shmitally! We made it. We survived cross-Atlantic travel with two toddlers, not entirely unscathed, but no one is in prison, so we’ll take it. I am working on my seventh cup of coffee at the moment and can barely keep my eyes open, damn you, jet lag. But I’ll do my best with the trip journaling while it’s still fresh and you possibly still care, but I must warn you that due to exhaustion a few of my descriptions, similes, metaphors, run-on sentences, dangling modifiers, et al  might be a little, ah, meandering so, you know, business as usual.

actual farm cat, before the chasing began.
We arrived in Florence on Thursday, Oct. 4th after something like 57 straight hours of travel. I’m kidding, it was less than 24 hours, but not very much less. Long enough that when we got there, both boys were pretty much comatose and I don’t remember very much about Thursday, to be honest. There are people who will tell you that the way to deal with time changes is to just stay awake as long as you can so you can get on the right track, but these people have apparently never tried to keep a three year old from sleeping for that long or if they tried, they probably lost a finger or two. I can tell you that there are discernible phases of exhaustion levels in toddlers and once you’ve passed the purple-faced screaming level, there is nothing you are going to do, including dropping them on their little heads that will force them awake. So Thursday, yeah. I think we did some things? Maybe stayed around Podere La Casellina? Picked up the rental van? Uh. Chased farm cats?

Also on the property where we stayed

We got to bed early and got up on Friday to go to San Gimignano which is a little town that was about 12 miles away, but in Italy terms, that means it was an hour’s drive because as we found out, there are no straight forward routes to anything, anywhere at any time involving any street that is wider than your Aunt Elma’s ass and a wheelbarrow because that is just how charming driving in Italy is. I realize I am writing this as a person who lives and drives in Central Texas, so I apologize in advance for the inherent hypocrisy in what I am about to say, but As best as I can tell, everyone in Italy is either driving drunk or is lacking basic peripheral eyesight because while ostensibly traffic lanes DO EXIST, they are not used very often. Most everyone just drives down the center line going 30 mph over the speed limit and you just swerve out of their way accordingly. Did I mention it was charming?

our view from the terrace of the wine museum

Anyway, so San Gimignano: cute place, gorgeous scenery. Travel Guru Rick Steves says that it’s “faux medieval” because the facades on the buildings are only a couple of hundred years old (as opposed to actually medieval) and well, yeah, maybe he’s right, but you can’t really tell. I didn’t lick the dirt to see if it gave me the Plague or anything (although Rowan did a few times. I have actually googled the incubation period for both the Bubonic Plague and Avian Flu because of the dirt licking and I’m fairly sure he ate a few feathers from a public fountain and I can’t even think about that anymore right now). While we were in San Gimignano we went to a little wine museum and had some beautiful glasses of rose and some horrifying Vin Santo which is this highly alcoholic deserty-sweet-syrupy wine that they probably give to people so they can’t catch deadly diseases from licking dirt because I can’t think of any other reason why you would drink it. We spent a lot of time just hanging outside the museum and sipping and listening to a guy dressed up as Dante reciting bits from The Inferno which, as it turns out, is NOT a comedy, but he was pretty funny.
Sam and Moi

Hopper protests any more walking without gelato reinforcements.
Then we made our way over to the main piazza and had a nice lunch of Panini and gelato, the first of many a gelatos to come. Rowan can say “gelato” now which I promise to try and record for you sometime this week because he can’t say it without a little drool slipping down his chin. It’s cute. At one point Hopper decided not to tour any further and just laid down in the middle of the piazza refusing to move. He did this at least once in every town we went to. Just so you know, the incubation period for the Bubonic Plague is 2-6 days, so despite the amount of medieval dirt my boys either rolled in or purposefully ate, I think we are in the clear.

Sam and Hopper at lunch

mmmm, that's some of that good Plague Dirt.

This is my attempt at an arty shot on one of the side streets.
After a really nice day, we drove back towards the farm in our rented, 9-seater van which had, from the get-go, been a source of consternation. It was dented all to hell, had a grinding transmission and bald tires. Basically, it was a Piece of Caca, but hey, it sat 9 people and we were going to need that room because at one point during our trip we were going to have 6 adults and 2 carseats. But on the way back from San Gimignano, we heard the tell-tale fwap fwap fwapping of what sounded like a flat tire. Sam pulled off the road to check and it turned out it was NOT a flat tire. The front wheel was coming off. I am not joking. Let me repeat: The front wheel was coming OFF OF THE VAN. Jesus Christ.

Sam and the Piece of Caca
Thus began a four hour adventure of going to the nearest automotive center to try and track down the Hertz people to tell them that we would very much like to NOT ALL DIE ON A TUSCAN MOUNTAIN ROAD IN A FIERY CRASH OFF A STEEP CLIFF WHEN THE GODDAM WHEEL FALLS OFF . It only took them a couple of hours to agree and locate us a second van. Sam and I just had to take a $200 cab ride to another city an hour away to go fetch it. But once we did, we were able to travel for the rest of our trip in a nice new little minivan with all four tires firmly attached. We celebrated this minor victory with a dinner out without the boys where we had “Tuscan-Style” Steak which is code for “basically raw and sprinkled with olive oil.” It was yummy. That could just be the Happy To Be Alive in me talking though.
Tomorrow: Florence and Bike Races!

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