Salamanca to Florence

A happy student A few days ago I found myself walking along a street, muttering. πŸ˜‹ Muttering? Well, saying things in Spanish. To whom? No one. Just trying to get the sounds right, after I realised I’d lapsed into Aussie-never-open-your-mouth speak (keeps the flies out πŸ™„). My ‘r’ has disappeared again along with other sounds. So, back to being a muttering street walker. If you see me, pretend it’s understandable πŸ˜„. Please…..

To cap off the odd behaviour: I spent 5 minutes in an airport lounge this morning sewing a tag in my wonderful hat so I can tie it to my bag. So I won’t lose it 😏 in an airport. Or indeed anywhere else when it’s not on. 

I have a history of being a hat lover, of being obsessed by a hat. My first much loved hat was a captain’s peaked cap, reluctantly bought by my great aunt when I was 11, visiting Melbourne alone. She subsequently repeatedly pointed it out to her friends at every opportunity. So it must have been an unusual choice. Don’t remember its demise but it would have been a sad day for it and me.

Leaving Spain

Yes, heading off on Sunday for a few weeks in Italy then, back to Spain. Hence the hotel on Saturday night in Barajas, near the airport.

Oh, best of all! TV in my Barajas hotel was showing Naked and Afraid! He wears a bag across his groin. Hers is across her boobs or bum, depending on the direction she is facing. 

They both have mud all over their face and haven’t eaten for 13 days. They would be eating a snake she caught had he not overridden her when she suggested it was sufficiently cooked. Its final chalk-like consistency after more cooking made it inedible. Ha ha! These guys are so citified it’s unbelievable but lots of fun to watch. 

Day 17 he caught a poor little lizard. Oh, the big hunter act that followed! πŸ€”πŸ™„β€΅οΈ I need a finger-down-throat emoji. Later, after he prayed out loud, they caught another snake, 4 foot long. And the cooking? He insisted on smoking that one and the structure caught fire. As they sifted through the ashes they found they’d discarded some snake eggs and so they cooked and ate them. Consolation prize. Truly, he’s an idiot and she was stupid for letting him win each time. Phew. They finished the challenge, 3 weeks in which they shared one small lizard and 3 snake’s eggs. Water was freely available so they couldn’t mess that up.

The following program was much better, Naked and Afraid XL. Could be called Advanced idiocy! 

A naked group of about 12 people (4 teams of 3) out for 40 days somewhere in Africa with no shoes or sunscreen, just modesty bags, a large knife each and it looks like each had another item, such as fishing line. Each has survived a 21 day program previously. Relax, you don’t get a protracted description of that program as well. Two competitors had gone by the the time I turned it off, one opted out and one to hospital. 

Barajas 

My Barajas hotel is clearly used by many english speakers and most information is in both that and Spanish. 

One fellow traveller was a woman in a hijab with 3 kids. She quizzed the waiter in the hotel restaurant about their food. I only heard the word ‘halal’ but gathered the food didn’t meet her requirements. The 4 of them caught the airport bus with me this morning and it became clear she didn’t speak a word of Spanish. 

I couldn’t help but think how hard it must be for many women who wear burkas. Under a constant pressure to withstand sideways looks, snide comments. I wonder if it’s the same for the two equally strangely dressed men in the airport today with their long black coats, beards, curly locks on each side of their face, growing down over their necks. Various strings in places and I don’t know what under their coats but everything seemed to be black or white. 

Do those guys (Hasidic Jews) get hassled as much as the women in burquas who look equally medievally and outlandishly dressed. Both lots ‘shout’ I am different! Look at moi ……

Dammit. The Iberian airport lounge has changed its wifi password and I can’t get my gear to rejoin – both my iPad mini and iphone refuse to renew their lease from scratch. Oh well. Anyhow, as long as the Iberia airlines people don’t pick up on my incessant coughing and toss me off the plane, as a (feverish) friend was from qantas in Melbourne. 

Phew. Too late to put me off! We are heading down the runway. I’m safe.

Flying from Spain to Italy 

I’m heading to Florence, Italy. Why? I wanted a few days here before I join a walking group in nearby Pisa for a week north of there.

Spain looked so dry as we flew over it.


The Spanish coast, and that of France, and I wasn’t sure how much further around, had the largest number of marinas I’ve ever seen. Every few km there was another.

And then the huge mountain ranges, rocky outcrops, not long after we arrived over Italy. Were they the Dolomites perhaps?

Soon after, the patchwork paddocks surrounding various small Tuscan towns and large houses. 

The food on the Iberia plane won my heart: black pasta containing a salmon mixture. It looked spectacular.


A bit rubbery but wow! The look alone made ordering it worthwhile.

Florence, waiting, Airbnb style

If first impressions count, beam me out of here Scotty! Already into September and the central, touristy, area of Florence seems extremely crowded. 

I had to ring the Airbnb person when I arrived to get access to #29. Not so straight forwards when you don’t have a local sim. And then I waited outside, next to the street repairs. It was dusty and not as exciting out as I hoped it would be inside. 

A flock of 3 cute little dogs just passed behind someone. Some ill advised person asked me, in Italian, if the something or rather was open. Yeah, she obviously rapidly understood my limited utility to her and quickly disappeared! Many many people walking single file on both sides of the blocked street. A wooden ramp on one part makes it noisy in the apartment, sounding like a bouncing basketball each time it’s walked on.

My Florence Airbnb apartment is fairly central. Hard to get any idea of what it’s like from looking at the outside.

The entrance comprises two brown wooden doors, huge, tall ones. 

Behind them is a large atrium with huge, high ceilings. 

Up we travelled, to the first floor, turned right and into apartment one. It has two bathrooms, a mezzanine with a low ceiling and a single bed upstairs, and downstairs is open with a double bedroom off from the kitchen living area. There are bathrooms off from both the main bedroom and the kitchen. The apartment feels large and open. It was expensive. Not surprising, given the location and the fact you could fit 3 or 4 people here. In fact the Airbnb person thought I would have someone with me. I thought she was being nosey but it seems the police require the registration of even temporary residents and the state, a €2.50 per tourist person per day tax.

I got the briefest and least helpful tour of any Airbnb facilities I’ve ever had. As equipment in every country is different I long ago learnt to ask how it works: how to light the stove, gas, with a wall tap; where various cooking things were etc. She showed me fairly reluctantly.

They provide a map, useless tourist junk. I asked her to mark the supermarket on it to see if it was even readable and because I wanted to know. She had trouble and I’ve since checked online and discovered it’s nowhere near where she finally said it was. No kettle, crappy small saucepan, a large one and three lids. Three? Nothing to cook in for the microwave. Not a well setup kitchen. Nothing to cut with except 2 bread knives with guides attached (ghastly) and not one kitchen cloth or tea towel. Not one. Feels like I’m on an endless factory belt in this apartment, rubbish in, sausages out. Customers in, money out. 

The wifi has no security and is slow, 1Mb/sec. I checked. 

The roadworks downstairs are unfortunate and, I hope, not too noisy. 



Not the fault of the Airbnb people at all. Just my bad luck. 

Anyhow, I’m going out walking.

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