Sunday, May 5, 2013


Pisa, Italy

 After Venezia, we headed to Firenze. On the way, we had a brief stopover in Pisa, so that people could photograph themselves holding up, or pushing over, some tower there that stands on an angle. Also, so that everyone going to Egypt could purchase American dollars to pay for our optional activities.
We arrived at our campsite in Florence in time for dinner, after which we headed into town. Red Garter is a venue frequented by Contiki and Top Deck alike (we befriended one tour of each), and basically the craziest karaoke bar I have ever been to. Along with standard karaoke-setup, there is a massive stage, and a guy who accompanies you on guitar and vocals. The machine that lets you browse and select songs is in no way related to the songs they play (or have) - classic Italian organisation! It's pretty well a lucky dip. The guy picks a random song, and people jump up to sing it. Also, they have jugs of cocktails, which were half-price for the first hour.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

We started our first full day in Florence at Leonardo's leather factory, where we were given a little history lesson on leatherwork in Florence, and demonstration on the making of leather goods.

This was followed by a walking tour. It was pissing down with rain the whole while (the gypsies selling umbrellas did good trade), and I did not hear a single word the tour guide said the whole tour. When the tour finished and everyone went off for lunch, I went and re-walked the entire route we did in order to get a few photos. I didn't bother originally, as pushing past everyone was an excessive amount of effort, and it was grim and rainy anyway. The sun came out in the afternoon.

I also fell in love with a stationary store. Leather-bound notebooks with handmade paper, beautiful pens with pretty inkpots, wax sealing products galore. So much joy.

I had a terrible hot chocolate, and later a delicious hot chocolate. Despite my enjoyment of leather as a material, I didn't manage to find a single leather item that I liked, even after searching in most of the stores I went past. I was particularly keen to find a pair of fingerless gloves, but Paris remains the only place I have found a nice pair in my last three years of searching.



We had a special Tuscan dinner that night. I don't think I had ever eaten so much food in my life. I swear there were at least six courses. And a lot of Chianti consumed. Afterward we headed to Space Electronic Discotheque, which was a real let-down. I have been a little bit spoilt working in a venue with great DJs, but with the reputation of European nightlife in general, and of this club in particular, I was expecting semi-decent DJs. But c'est la vie. We had fun.


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