Friday, July 15, 2005

Goodbye, Europe!

June 22, 11:44 AM (European time), Somewhere Over Northern Europe

Okay, so we’re back on Austrian Airlines heading for Dulles. One thing is definitely for sure. Flying Business Class is the way to go! Since I learned all the seat maneuvers, along with the negotiations of the personal TV and dining table, I’m really comfortable. I have my seat in a perfect position to write, eat and watch TV. And when I’m ready to sleep, I just need to put the back down more. The Austrian Airlines flight attendants are wonderful. The head attendant is so nice and attentive—and very beautiful.

Okay, back to the story of our last day in Florence. After walking to the river, we got some great pictures of some rowers and saw what we thought was a rat swimming across the river.

We stopped at a ristorante and had our first set menu three-course meal in Italy. The waiter was adorable! His name was Gavino, and he was an aspiring rock singer. He posed with us for a picture, and even sang an Eagles’ song for us. The food was…magnificent! My first course was spaghetti pomodoro, and believe it or not, I ate every bite, and was ready for the second course, a mixed salad with delicious fresh tomatoes followed by the main course, veal scaloppini in a delicate lemon white wine sauce. It was absolutely bellissimo!!! And we got pictures of us eating the spaghetti, which I’m sure Frank will appreciate! Later, after I found my skirt (Yay!!! Paid 20 Euro, but who cares?), we were walking through the markets, and guess who we saw approaching us? Gavino!!! I don’t know why he was coming from the other direction; I do know the restaurant closed just as we left, and he was on his lunch break, but maybe I spent more time choosing my skirt than I thought. Anyway, it was like greeting a new friend! Kathy even got a hug. I would’ve, too, I’m sure, except I was so excited to see him, I stepped on an Italian vendor’s toes, and had to apologize profusely, admitting that I’d had maybe a little too much vino at lunch. (I know I said I wasn’t going to drink any more vino, but I guess I lied.) He laughed and leaned toward me and said, “Do not worry. I often have too much birra.”

It was time to leave Florence. We went back to the hotel to get our luggage, and had them call a taxi for us—and we were on our way to the Star Hotel Vespucci. That’s when things started going downhill.

As we drove out of Florence and the meter started clicking higher and higher, and the taxi just kept going and going, Kathy and I were exchanging rather alarmed looks. By the time we got to the hotel—finally!—the meter was at 32 Euros. Much more than we expected. (Turns out we passed the airport. I guess my research for a last night hotel wasn’t all that good.)

Then we received even more bad news when we checked in. The girl at the front desk told us there was no airport shuttle—even though I’d thought Vespucci was an airport hotel (my mistake, and a big one) and it would cost about…are you ready?...40 Euros!!! To get to the airport!!!! Shit. We were in deep shit. Between us, we had only about 25 Euros. That meant we had no choice but to go find an ATM and get cash. But I didn’t remember any pin numbers, so Kathy had to do it. We walked to a mall about ten minutes away, and she had to get a minimum of 50 Euros. Needless to say, we were both stressed about that unexpected expense, and well…things got a little tense between us for a while. I guess neither one of us deal well with money problems. But we ironed it out, and apologized for our harsh words to each other. I guess I felt responsible (and defensive) about screwing up so badly, and the only way to deal with it when I get angry with myself is to be a bitch. I fully admit it, and I’m not proud of it. But I’ve never been one to hold my feelings inside, and at 52, I don’t think I can start now. But that has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count, and I can’t blame Kathy for getting angry with me. And even when she’s angry and says hurtful things to me, I know she still loves me, just as I still love her. I don’t know why it is we seem to hurt most the people we love.

We just flew over my beloved Ireland, so I’m having a Bailey’s to toast it.

Anyway, we got up this morning at 4:30, and the taxi arrived at 5:32, and we got to the airport in time. The flight to Vienna via Bologna was good, even though we were in a small plane. There was a delay getting through security in Vienna, so we got a fifteen minute late start. We’re just west of Ireland now, flying over the ocean.

Soon we’ll be home, and our Austria/Italy adventure will be over.

I can’t wait to get back to Ireland.

June 23, 2005, 10:11 AM, Back Home

I managed to stay up last night until 9:00, but fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Slept solidly until 5:00 this morning when Ruby woke me up with her usual morning ritual of licking my hand. I think she missed me.

It’s good to be home with Frank, Leah and Ruby, but all night last night, I dreamt about Europe. I guess I'll be dreaming about Europe for many nights to come. :)


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