Let’s start with the positives of the trip over: I think I had the easiest flights in the history of my travels, the terribly creepy hat guy in Saskatoon was NOT on my flight, I had a row to myself on each plane, I made it to all of my flights with time to spare which never happens, and… my bags made it with me! Smooth sailing from Saskatoon to Vancouver, Vancouver to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Florence. Even the bus from the airport to the station, and taxi from the station to Annie’s was cheap and easy…. Too easy. Yeah sure I cried through security when they took away half my liquids, through boarding as the tiny lady from the bag check-in asked me if I said goodbye to my parents okay, most of the way to Vancouver, throughout the flight to Frankfurt as I opened the goodbye cards from the amazing Laura and Kelsey (who drove all the way to Saskatoon just to be with me and say goodbye. Precious friends I love you dearly!), and when Kelsey sent me the pictures she took of my goodbye with mom and Emory. But all in all, much easier than anticipated. I honestly thought to myself, wow, maybe I’m just so accustomed to Italy and this whole travel thing that I’ve got it all figured out now. WRONG. Big fat wrong…. But I’ll get to that soon.
Sorry, I’ve already strayed from my first topic; Positives, right. Getting to Annie’s and seeing a familiar face after travelling over 21 hours, 8 time zones, and carrying a giant blue whale of a backpack on my poor old back was so comforting. (side note: on top of having all my shoulder problems prior to this trip, the day before my departure I went to the emergency room for some crazy back pain which they believed to be a slipped disc in my lower back… Totally typical… But nothing a shot in the butt won’t fix) It was great to see Annie, even though she’s a die hard Kansas City Royals fan (poor Blue Jays), I love her to death. She allowed me into her home, every nook and cranny let me tell you, for a gracious week! That poor girl had to deal with jet legged, missing her family and friends, sore, cranky and stressed out Jody for 6 days! Yup, there’s the kicker. 6 days people… Now we’re getting to the big fat wrong part I mentioned earlier..
My original ‘plan’ was to land, stay a night or two at Annie’s, and find a room to rent ASAP. That last part did not happen as per ‘the plan’. Day 1 and 2 I got to see my babies at the school right away and casually started looking for a place. It was nice to be back. Day 3 and 4 were a complete 360 of Holy Jesus of Italy where are all the rentals at?! Those of you who have had to look for a rental before, whether it be for vacationing, school, whatever, it sucks right? Now try doing it in a foreign country, in a foreign language, with a ticking clock breathing down your neck and your bank account shaking its fist at you. Try that for an image, am I right? This brings us to day 7…. After walking 15 Km a day (I’m not joking at all, my feet and calves are dying) all over the city looking at apartments, meeting potential roommates, and realizing what my price range actually got me, I was stressed to the max. And I mean max. I trekked an hour and a half across the city to a sketchy neighbourhood that I didn’t even feel safe during the day in to look at a room where the landlord didn’t even show up (I cried on his front porch) and then used my best Italian to score a viewing of a “cute little room” in the centre only to find out the bedroom was just a mattress on the floor (I cried shamelessly walking down the street). Finally it was time to leave Annie’s so I checked into a hostel. After contacting an uncountable number of people in the morning, I returned to my hostel and wifi on the evening of day 7 to find I had been accepted! I have a room, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not going to be homeless! Sure I had to up my budget a bit, but it’s much better than sleeping on the streets of Italy in the winter during a financial crisis. Thanks to my sister for helping me search from back home, mom and dad for continually telling me it’ll get better, Annie for offering everything to me, the random girl in the coffee shop that sent me room listings, and Emory for continuing to Skype me even though all I did was cry and complain. Needless to say I ate, drank, and slept better that night than I had in a long time.
So, what now? Well, I’m still in the hostel for a couple more sleeps until my room is ready. November 1 marks the beginning of my adventure when I can FINALLY unpack my bag, maybe wear a new outfit, and definitely wash the 3 outfits I have been wearing on a rotational basis. I haven’t cried in 2 days, so that’s a big deal, as you may have noticed there was a trend going on above. Things are looking up and I am sitting in a little coffee shop with a fellow Canadian right now planning a few adventures I have up my sleeve. Amen for wifi and espresso.
Today I am meeting up with some Italians to do a conversation exchange and tonight is my first run with FirenzeCorre ( a running group in the centre. Wait till you see the sexy vest I get to wear). Next week I will be extremely busy with the kids at the school. Halloween is this weekend and I got myself invited to a little party. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and with the plethora of Americans that I have here with me, I’ll be eating well that night.
So far I have had my favourite schiacciata from Puggi, a real espresso macchiato (suck it Starbucks), gelato from De Neri, pocket coffee, ricotta cheese (no, it’s not the same as home), breadsticks with fennel, bought a jar of fig jam, and I had a glass of limoncello (terrible, but like a right of passage). I’m going to be okay I think.
So who wants to come visit? Taking applications.
Until next time,
Once your Italian Armstrong, now your Armstrong Abroad.