Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Friday, October 29, 1999 6:09 AM
Subject: Firenze! Oct. 12-13, 1999

Current Date/Location: Oct 29, 1999 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Editorial Correction: In my previous journal entry I falsly reported that my friend, Ali, is from New Jersey...when in fact, she is from Brooklyn, New York. The Editorial Board of this Journal sincerly regrets this error and any needless pain that this may have caused the readers (especially one from Brooklyn). However, the Board does not offer this retraction due to any threats (could someone please interpret what "finding a horses head in my bed" might mean...) or implied "broken knee-caps" from the affected party. (...and NO, I am not from Arkansas!).

Journal:

Oct. 12, 1999

Arrived off overnight train from Wien at 0600. Went to 4-star hotel of my friend Eileen (note: 4-star hotel would indicate 3 things: 1: Eileen has a job. 2: Eileen is NOT a backpacker. 3: Eileen's nickname is Princess (also works for Princess Cruiselines...go figure). Let me give you some background:

Eileen was my upstairs neighbor in Hermosa Beach, California where we became friends. She is first generation Italian-American (parents born and raised in Italy...she was born and raised in USA). Her cousin is getting married on Oct 16...so Eileen took 2 weeks of vacation, is touring Italy with two
other friends (Norma and Julie) and will be going to the wedding. I was invited because I was in Europe and because Eileen and I used to swing dance in LA and she figured I could dance with her and her friends at the wedding (...not like she needs to import guys...she isn't exactly hard to look
at...but hey, I wasn't looking a gift-horse in the mouth...I am happy to be going to an Italian wedding...they have food there...don't they???).

This is what brings me to their 4-star hotel...looking like a dirty rat, I drag into the hotel and ask what room they are in. In European fashion (and certainly not American (think of the lawsuits!)) they give me the room number and tell me to go right up. I knock on the door...and after being greeted...in typical rat fashion, I make myself at home whereever...no place is too good for me! I crawl into one of the girls beds as they start the long process of getting up, showering and getting ready for the day. ...about 18 hours later (slight exaggeration) we are ready to go. Breakfast at the hotel (expensive...but quite a pread...must splurge sometimes.)...and off to explore Firenze.

Now, I have already visited Firenze with my mother and grandmother a few yeas earlier...so I was content to let the girls be the umbrella carriers (all tour guides in Europe hold up an umbrella for the group to follow...now a nickname for anyone leading the group). We went to the museum that houses the David...but Firenze is still swarming with tourists and the line was around the block. We retreated and went to the Duomo (a spectacularly large church...the outside is incredible...but unlike my recollections of it from before...the inside is amazingly sparsly decorated...hmmmm...guess the mind plays tricks...but really...the inside could use the help of an interior decorator.). Anyway...we viewed the inside and climbed up to the top of the dome to view the paintings on the inside of the dome and to view the city...both were great.

Needless to say, we had gelatto (Italian ice-cream which is fabulous) and wandered the city. I called around to find a hostel...but they were all full...so we decided to sneak me into their hotel later and to crash on the floor...ahhhhh...the life of a travelling rat. Anyway, we had an appointment to meet another friend from Hermosa Beach, Lisa! (Background History: Lisa is a volleyball buddy from Hermosa who is also Italian. She was taking a week of vacation and visiting Italy...I had wanted to be in Firenze at this time to see both Eileen and Lisa). We all met and went to dinner. Had a great Italian dinner (is there anything else?) and then all went out to a disco. It was a very fashionable disco and everyone was
dressed brilliantly (except me...oh, well...). We danced like it was 1999 until late (or early, depending on perspective)...back to hotel and crashed on floor.

Oct 13, 1999

Woke on 4-star hotel floor (hmmmmm...didn't seem that much more comfortable than being on the floor of a hostel...oh, well.). I woke early and went to the Archi Rossi hostel near the trainstation to check-in. I got there and waited with several others (talked with Mark/Australia) and got a dorm bed. The inside of this hostel is fabulously decorated with wall murals/frescos (sp?) (someone needs to tell me the difference between the two). Really, it is incredible...if you go to Firenze, you owe it to yourself to go see the
inside of Archi Rossi.

Anyway, the girls (Eileen, Norma and Julie) and I headed to see the Palace near Boboli gardens...guess what??? It was filled with really old, antique furniture and paintings...I guess they were nice...but I am becoming a little jaded here in Europe...then I went to meet Lisa for lunch (the other girls had to go shopping...go figure).

Lisa and I went to Piazzale Michelanglo...it has a copy of the David and is on a hill overlooking the city of Firenze. Lunch was leisurely and we then returned to meet the othe girls. Went to the hotel for awhile...and I did something I haven't done in 2 1/2 months...I took a bath!!!! It may not seem like much...but when you are on the road...an actual bathtub is a rare commodity.

Went to a lovely dinner with the girls (didn't include Lisa...she had to leave and go onwards to Bologna...it was great to see her again). I retired to the Archi Rossi...the princesses to their 4-star hotel...and we would be off to Treviso (near Venice) in the morning.