A Travellerspoint blog

October 2011

Photos from Florence

The spoils from site-seeing during a Florence, Italy long weekend

sunny 17 °C

Florence is in Italy, and people go there to ... eat Eggs Florentine, and ... err, um, look at Florins. And, see stuff... Ah, I don't know.

I went down to Florence for a long weekend because my Dad was passing through. We had a great weekend catching up, and I did a little bit of sight-seeing on the side. It was all a little last minute (for various reasons), so I did no research into Florence before going, and really can't be bothered now that I am back. So unlike my past blogs where I at least try and impart some knowledge about the place, I am going to skip it this time.

Just look at the pretty pictures.

Dome on Duomo

Dome on Duomo


Duomo Facade and Tower

Duomo Facade and Tower


Duomo at sunset

Duomo at sunset


Close up Statue Duomo Square

Close up Statue Duomo Square


Fancy Italian Cops

Fancy Italian Cops


Opa

Opa


Our Father on Duomo

Our Father on Duomo


Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella


Rooftops of Florence

Rooftops of Florence


Panini and Vino

Panini and Vino


curving Streets of Florence

curving Streets of Florence


Little red fiat, Streets of Florence

Little red fiat, Streets of Florence


Tortured Souls Duomo

Tortured Souls Duomo


What you lookin at?

What you lookin at?


Little yellow birdie, Streets of Florence

Little yellow birdie, Streets of Florence


Cross in Sun

Cross in Sun

Actually, I knew one thing about Florence before going. You could find this guy there... and he is everywhere!

David in Shadow

David in Shadow


David on the wall

David on the wall

Thanks for reading my travel blog photo essay on Florence.

Photo essays - the last refuge of the lazy blogger.

Posted by GregW 06:25 Archived in Italy Tagged photography Comments (1)

I may not be from here, but I know where you are going.

Today, on my way home from work I had two (2) people ask me directions to some obscure place, and in both cases, I was able to direct them. One asked for directions to the Walkabout pub near Temple tube station, and the second to The Grand near Clapham Junction. In both cases, I was able to point them in the right direction. (Granted, both were bars, so perhaps I was at an advantage.)

I am always quite proud, as an immigrant, to be able to provide accurate directions.

Depsite my recent attempts to develop a more transatlantic accent (Judy, Judy, Judy), there is no doubt I still sound Canadian. I wonder sometimes what people think when they hear a foreign accent giving directions in London. Do they trust me? Do they abandon my pronouncement and ask the next person they see?

I hope they trust me, because I was two for two tonight.

Posted by GregW 12:45 Comments (0)

My Life at Gatwick

A short little experience of the life of Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

semi-overcast 15 °C

When you travel a lot, you get into a routine. I used to be able to pack in 10 minutes, walk out the door and never forget a thing. I stopped travelling frequently for business a few years ago. In my mind, though, I can still pack in 10 minutes. However, without the routine, I am forgetting things. Sometimes it is little things - toothpaste, a baggy for my liquids, sun glasses. Recently, though, I had a biggest issue yet. I got the airport and forgot my passport.

I was flying to Florence for a short break. I packed a bag, took some Euros, and even managed to print off the address and directions to my hotel. The next day I headed for the airport. 45 minutes and a train ride later, I was standing in line the Meridiana desk, looking at the folks ahead of me. They pulled out their passports, and I was suddenly gripped by an absolutely horrific thought. My passport was sitting on my dresser back in Battersea.

Panicking, I got a cab which cost me £70 to take me home and back to Gatwick. When it was clear I wouldn't make it back from my 9:45 flight, I got on the phone and rebooked an 11:25 flight. That cost me an additional £170. Before booking, I asked the driver if I could make an 11:25. "No problem," he said.

Problem - traffic. Arrived at Gatwick at 11:00 and the flight had closed. No amount of pleading could get them to switch their opinion. I even pulled out, "My poor 83 year old father is waiting for me in Florence." Sympathy from the folks at Easyjet, but basically got the stiff arm of "rules is rules."

Thoroughly confuddled, I finally booked the third flight of the day, costing me £230. It didn't leave until 19:55, meaning I had more than eight hours to kill before my next flight.

My immediate concern was getting in touch with my Dad and letting him know I wasn't going to be in Florence by 1 PM. I called home to Toronto, and fired off emails to numerous people in both Italy, England and Canada. It was a tense hour, but I was finally able to get in touch with my father at the hotel. Crisis averted, I finally relaxed for the first time in four hours. I looked at my watch - it was just before noon in London.

At that point, I decided to settle in and hang out for my eight hour wait. I couldn't check in for another six hours, so I was relegated to the amusements before security. They consisted, in the North terminal of Gatwick, of a pub, an arcade, a few shops and some seats with a TV on the BBC news.

Pub_and_Resting.jpg
Gatwick_Lounge.jpg
Chillin_at.._the_TV.jpg

So there I was, a pseudo Tom Hanks from the movie The Terminal, trapped in an airport and having to make his life there. I bought a copy of the Economist and pulled out a copy of a Gresham thriller that I had in my bad. I watched some TV, did some shopping, played some video games and had a meal and a few pints in the pub.

It was dull. I wouldn't recommend spending over 8 hours in Gatwick. It wasn't awful, but it was without any joy at all. Simply functional.

It wasn't until 6 PM, when I went to check in for my flight, that I finally realised I could have gotten on the train, spend 45 minutes on the train and spent most the day at home - or wandering around London or even hanging out in Brighton by the sea-side. The four hours of panic in booking, re-booking and re-re-booking flights, as well as trying to inform my father, had taken it all out of me. I had turned off my brain and hadn't even thought that I had 8 hours to get out the airport and get back to London.

It is, ultimately, more proof that perhaps I am losing my knack at travel. When I used to do it every week, I would have never forgotten anything, certainly not something as important as my passport. And missing a flight - or even two - I would have figured out a way to get to Florence quicker, or at least how to take advantage of a long layover.

I don't know how to feel about the series of mistakes I made that day in arranging travel. Part of me feels somewhat sad that I have lost my knack of travelling. And the other part, I am a little bit happy that I have settled enough in London that I no longer have that knack of travelling.

After so many years of consulting and travelling, it's almost like I am becoming a normal human being.

Posted by GregW 13:36 Archived in England Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Definition for the Morning Commute: Lumping

Gregwtravels creates a new word to define a part of his morning commute

sunny 14 °C

I moved down to South London a few months back, now living in Battersea. As part of my new life south of Thames, I no longer commute into work using the tube. I am now going "overground."

Southern_T..Station.jpg

Overground is how Londoners describe the commuter trains. The trains come in from all directions - north, east and west - but are most prevalent in the south. This is because there are few tube lines south of River, so the trains act as us Southerners rapid transit solution.

My local station is Clapham Junction station. Clapham Junction is "Europe's busiest train station" by the number of trains which pass through it. There are 2,000 trains a day which pass through the station. Clapham Junction is on the mainlines running into Victoria and Waterloo stations, and away from London heading to the southwest and south.

During the busiest hour there are 180 trains per hour passing through Clapham Junction. 117 of those trains stop at the station.

Clapham_Ju..busiest.jpg

The good news is that means I never have to wait long for a train heading to Waterloo, near where I work. There is usually a train every two minutes during the rush hour.

The bad news is that as in addition to serving the local community, Clapham Junction is also one of the busiest transfer points on the rail network, and thus there is always a lot of people waiting for those trains. It is not uncommon for me to have to wait for three or four trains to go by before I can squeeze on one of the trains.

To make it easier for those people waiting to get on the trains, on many of the platforms they have painted lines to indicate where the doors will open. This makes it easy to know where to stand to get on the trains, but does lead to a rather uneven distribution on the platforms, with everyone crowding around the areas where the doors of the trains will be.

When the train arrives, those getting off squeeze through a small channel through the crowds, as those waiting to get on the train wait with nervous anticipation to get onto the train. Once the last person is getting off, the crowd surges forward to push on to the very busy trains.

It isn't complete chaos, though. It has a certain order to it. As there is never enough space on the train for everyone, there is a certain amount of jostling for position. At the same time, there is an honour to it - people do look at each other - making eye contact, and allowing those who have been waiting the longest to get on first.

Lumping.jpg

I have never really been sure what to call this process by which people wait for trains at Clapham Junction. It's not a queue, but it does have some order to it.

Last week, it came to me. It is lumping.

Lump (verb) - to wait and board trains in small groups huddled around where the doors are projected to be.

Lump (noun) - the group of people waiting to board a train huddled around where the doors are projected to be.

And thus it is defined.

My daily commute starts by heading to Clapham Junction and lumping to get on a train.

Posted by GregW 14:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged transportation train_travel Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]