So, I’m really terrible at chronology. I’m going to try to date my Paris posts, as I did the last, so that this blog makes some sort of sense as to where I am and have been (and when). I absolutely intend to keep blogging about Paris, but I’m posting this tonight because it’s all very fresh in my mind…
I was incredibly anxious yesterday about making my overnight train from Paris to Florence. This was partly because the forecast was for rain, partly because I wanted to stop by a supermarket on the way to the station, and partly because I can be a bit ridiculous when I’m not in control of situations.
To deal with this anxiety, I left my hostel at 3:30pm (first off, it was sunny), went to the supermarket, easily made my metro change at Pyramides, and arrived at the Paris Bercy train station at 4:40pm.
My train left at 6:52pm. Yep, I was a bit of a nincompoop. Luckily, one of my purchases at the supermarket had been the chocolate version of my beloved chestnut fondant, and at the hostel I chanced upon the exact Sookie Stackhouse book I’m up to reading (I make no apologies for this choice. One needs fun reads when travelling), so the two hours passed without too much trouble.
My sleeper cabin consisted of very little space and six bunkbeds, three on each wall, but thankfully there were only four of us in the itty-bitty living space. I ended up bursting into not-well-hidden giggles several times during the evening/night, so much so that I once wondered if my companions thought I was sobbing to myself in bed.
See, it was just so strange. My three roomies (bunkies?) were middle-aged Italian men who spoke no English, and half the time I had no idea what was going on. Also, one of these men did nothing, all night. He had no books, no music, no nothing. He just sat there. Often staring at me and my computer/book/food/iPod. What can I say – I come prepared.
Also, I know that at one point they were laughing at the amount of chocolate I was eating (there was pointing and gesturing involved), but I do wonder what they made of the fact that, after all my chocolate, I pulled out a bag of raw broccoli, then a packet of curry-flavoured tofu patties, then a packet of pre-cooked lentils.
Still, the 13 hours passed eventually, and what could I expect upon my arrival but an immediate adventure in Florence?
My hostel was quite tricky to find and, once found, turned out not to be my hostel anymore. I’d been switched to another about ten minutes further away. The hostel fellow said he’d walk me there, and after a bit of awkwardness we latched onto the universal language of food and started talking gelato. (It’s lovely how often food unites people – and equally as bizarre, to me, to meet people bored by the topic.)
I absolutely believe it was this food-chatting that led Ronaldo, from the Dominican Republic, who loves Nutella and Mango gelato, to treat me to a cappuccino at a little Italian bar. He also wanted to buy me a pastry, but I felt a bit guilty, so opted for a kinder chocolate. (Amber, you’ll be excited about more than that in this post, I promise you).
This was, without a doubt, the smoothest, nuttiest, creamiest cappuccino I’ve ever had. It also, combined with my tiredness and normal-decaf-ness, made me feel quite jittery and sick for a few hours. But it was goooood.
Ronaldo then told me to meet him at noon for gelato, and while at first I wasn’t sure, I was told by the girl at the second hostel that he’s just a friendly guy with a girlfriend, so I went for it.
I mean, you can’t pass up inside-knowledge about a good gelato joint, can you?
In this photo, the gelato looks rather small, but I assure you it was not. I got three flavours (out of dozens), and it was packed in there – almost too much for me. Almost.
Well, it was from Festival Del Gelato, so it was a festival in my mouth. I got Mora (blackberry), Maron Glace (chestnut), and Yoghurt Nutella. I also tried Mango, Nocciola (hazelnut), and what I think was Amaretto-Cherry, because Ronaldo just kinda shoved his cone at me. (His ice-cream cone, people. Sheesh.)
If I’m absolutely honest, the blackberry and chestnut gelatos were rather disappointing. But the yoghurt nutella was fantabulous, and you better believe I’ll be scouting out other gelaterias and flavours over the coming week.
There was one other thing that confused me, though. For a man with a supposed girlfriend, Ronaldo was quite into touching my back, and held onto my camera twice after taking photos of me to discuss how beautiful he thought my smile was.
So when he asked me to dinner tomorrow night, I was a bit ambiguous in my response.
You know what this means, though? Amber was right. Apparently, Florence is all about the art, churches, gelato, and, erm, friendly men…
P.S. I promise I’ll do a short and/or photo-centric post tomorrow. I already fear I’m scaring people away with all these lengthy posts.