Thursday, 14 May: the beginning of our trip to Italy to participate in an academic conference in Florence.
When I came home on Wednesday, I discovered in my (physical) post box a note that a package had arrived for me which I assumed that this was the headband camera. Had I been living in a town, there would have been no possibility of collecting the package before leaving, but as I live on a kibbutz, all I had to do was telephone the person who deals the post and explain the situation. I was told to come to her house and collect the keys to the office so that I could open up and retrieve the parcel - which I did swiftly.
Once I opened the package, I discovered that the camera requires a memory card, and not just any card but something called a TF card. DX sells many of these but the chance of ordering one today from China and having it arrive in Italy before Sunday are zero. I hoped that I would be able to buy a suitable card at the duty free in Tel Aviv but they too did not have one.
My next step was to start browsing on the Internet, looking for a suitable place in Italy. I found one online shop but I couldn't find what I was looking for. A quick visit to Trip Advisor cleaned the address of a good shop in Florence, so I sent them an email, hoping for the best. Their reply (which I read in the evening) was also negative.
So: a day of traveling. We thought that it would be good to fly at 10:30 am as opposed to the more usual 7am, but I'm not so sure. We weren't hurried in the airport (which is why I had the time to send the email), but otherwise.... As opposed to most flights in Tel Aviv, where one simply walks onto the plane via a tunnel, we had to ride in a bus to where the airplane was parked. This time, we were one of the first on the plane so we didn't have the usual problem of walking down the aisle with a heavy case.
The flight to Rome passed without incident. When in Rome (do as the Romans do), we missed the sign for connecting flights and so found ourselves in baggage collection after passing passport control. Someone directed us from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1, which is where the internal flights leave. After walking ten minutes outside, we arrived; we would have had to have walked this anyway, but inside the airport. Here we showed our boarding passes (which we had been issued in Tel Aviv - hurray! Last time we had to pick them up in Rome), went through security then found our departure gate - next to one for a flight leaving for Naples, signs of deja vu. As always, this flight was delayed for about half an hour, so we were already losing interest.
The flight itself to Florence was mercifully brief; we were met at the airport and taken to our hotel by two youngish people with poor English. The hotel itself is within a small courtyard off a main street, which is why some people (on Trip Advisor) say that it is hard to find. Once we reached our room, we discovered that we were very tired and very hungry, so we changed our normal routine: left the suitcases unpacked and went across the road to a Chinese restaurant. The youngsters in the car had recommended us one restaurant and the receptionist in the hotel had recommended another, both close by, but we decided that we would save those recommendations for when we would appreciate them more.
Once revitalised, we returned to the hotel and started unpacking. The internet problem took some time to be resolved, but eventually I was able to connect all mobile phones and computers. I then went out for a short walk ostensibly to buy a large bottle of water but also to check out the neighbourhood. We are situated very well, being only about 200m from the main train station, on the edge of the old city. There are several alley ways here, which remind me of Sorrento and Palermo, although here they are more crowded (very crowded). There is even a laundromat. I will film this area one evening.
As I wrote above, the hotel is in a courtyard off one of the main streets and is an oasis of quiet. The room is fine, we have a little balcony overlooking an empty courtyard, and the shower is powerful and hot (not like ours at home!). I look forward to breakfast.
I am still on Israel time, waking at what was for me 5am (here 4am). Hopefully my internal clock will adjust to waking at a more suitable time - although of course, I do have time for updating my blog and connecting to work!