Europe- Part 3
Though it has been a decade, I can still remember the change we all experienced as our trip took us from the south of France into Italy- the stunning hillsides and small villages lining the way as we approached Pisa.
I will also never forget how entirely boring Pisa was as a whole.
There isn’t much to say about it aside from the fact that the only thing there is the tower, and that you’ll be ready to leave within a half hour of getting there. My only advice is to skip it all together; just like I should have skipped trying a novelty Duff beer (you know, like from the Simpsons) which was bitter and an overwhelming waste of money, just like the stop to Pisa was.
Rather than bore you with a place that was luckily just a stopover on our way to Florence, I think it’s best we just skip forward to Firenze itself. Seated in a glorious setting with the Seven hills in the background, we took in Florence in all of its glory from Piazzale Michelangelo.
The air was crisp after a light rain, and the cloud cover was enough to keep us from overheating in an area that didn’t have very many trees.
There was excitement throughout the group as we ventured down into the city and broke off into our smaller herds of adventure buddies. I quickly fell in love with the narrow streets lined with quaint and sometimes stunning shop fronts and local street artists. It felt like a city stuck between the days of old when Divinci roamed its cobbled paths, and our modern world- with a result that was absolutely amazing to witness for the first time.
As a writer I felt my inspiration come to life in Florence, much like it had in Paris.
The sheer magnitude of the history the city holds was enough to have me lost in my own little world as I wandered this ancient place with new friends- even getting lost along the way at times.
It was evening by the time we had reached the centre of the city, and we were all ready to have some drinks. We probably shouldn’t have started with Lemoncillo. Within an hour we were all totally off our rockers and also totally starved, so we decided to go to a gelato bar. Little did I know that this trivial decision to get a gelato in fucking Italy would come to drastically change my life forever. Ok, not really; but, also, really. For it was there that I, a closeted gay man, was approached by a young woman roughly a year or two younger than I, who batted her eyelashes and tried to flirt with me before asking me for some money so she could get gelato with her friends because she didn’t have any funds.
Seems like a harmless scenario? Right?
I checked my pockets, intending to give her any small change I had. Alas, there was no change. I shrugged as I explained to her that I didn’t have any money. I then went back to eating my delicious gelato with my tour group friends.
Sounds like the end of the story?
Was it the end of the story?
Of fucking course not.
For it was in that moment I witnessed a deceitful lie so liefully deceitful I almost choked on that same delicious gelato I mentioned to you JUST MOMENTS AGO.
I witnessed this young woman about two years younger than I purchase her own fucking gelato.
Let me tell you, drunk Chris was NOT having it.
I turned to my group, pointing to the girl and saying “Look at this lying liar, asking me to buy her gelato when she can afford it herself, like didn’t her mom teach her any morals?”
Clearly, the days on days of drinking had done their number on me.
Everyone laughed at my clearly drunk ass and shrugged it off.
But not me, I was FUMING. “I’m going to tell that bitch to enjoy her gelato and fuck off.”
Everyone thought I was kidding, and I did too.
Until said person had the nerve to come and sit down right beside my belligerent ass.
I was silent as I turned to my group, mouthing that I was astounded by the audacity of it all and that I should call her out for it.
They told me not to do it.
Hell, even sober Chris chimed in and told me not to say anything.
But did I listen?
I didn’t listen.
And so, with drunk vigor I turned to her and said, “I hope you are enjoying your gelato you lying fuck.”
Her eyes widened, and honestly I blacked out and don’t remember everything that clearly aside from me asking her “did your mother tell you it’s ok to lie like this? For shame”.
And then my friends pulled me away to the nearest bar.
Where said person I had just mouthed off to for being a lying liar followed us.
It was at that moment I was stabbed in a bar in Florence, all over an argument about gelato.
She didn’t stab me; but, she did stare at me from across the bar for twenty minutes as we all contemplated if we should leave- rubbing a stone attached to her necklace- which could only mean she put a fucking curse on me. I knew it then, and I knew it now. How do I know this? Oh man, the amount of times I have ALMOST died since then, fucking insane.
Like being on a flight that loses power thirty thousand feet in the air, or on a boat that almost capsizes in the caribbean, or that time I almost got hit by a motorcycle that almost got hit by a double decker when crossing the street running late for work in Trafalgar Squar- or, most aptly, my entire fucking marriage.
Jokes on her though, I was already cursed from my dads side of the family for being a MacGregor, so it seems her shitty ass half baked Gucci knockoff of a curse was canceled out by another.
* * * * ** * *
Florence was an overall amazing time, even with my new carry along baggage in the form of a curse all because I was a stupid drunk kid doing stupid drunk kid shit in foreing countries with a group of people I didn’t even know existed half a year before.
It was also one of the most memorable places when it came to feeling a connection to the locals living there. Honestly, everyone was so friendly that even when they were mocking us for being “Dumb Americans” it was a joy speak to them, and it was also fun to watch them get more friendly when the few Canadians in the group explained that we were not Americans, to which the Italians and us would turn and laugh at the Americans from our group.
I will never forget going to dinner at a family restaurant where everyone was working together and yelling at eachother in a way that made us wonder if they were about to murder eachother or they were having a great time- it was fun to watch. It was even more fun when our waitress told me off because she thought I had interrupted a girl at my table, when in fact the group was so large there were multiple conversations going on. The waitress was the Italian mother stereotype, and she yelled at me and told me that a gentleman does not interrupt a woman, and she also said some shit in Italian I am to this day one hundred percent sure was derogative. Of course she turned friendly again to me when my friend pointed out that I had in fact not interrupted her in the slightest.
This lead to us chatting more with the waitress who came to find out most of us were Canadian- which prompted her to start singing the Canadian National Anthem- quite poorly I might add. It was fucking amazing. We even got a picture with her.
You know how I mentioned we would end up naked in pools a few more times on this journey? Well, Florence was it.
We arrived at our camp grounds to find our cabins had fire ant infestations and that our wifi would stop working every night at 10pm- which was pure insanity since we weren’t even back at the cabins before 11. On top of that the pool we were told we could swim in was also closed.
It was in Florence that we, along with our tour bus driver who was a crazy and amazingly fun guy named Jao from Portugal hopped over the wall of the pool area and skinny dipped after having far too many drinks again, only to narrowly escape when the campsite owners came to check the area.
With Florence done and Rome up next, I was so stoked to finally live out my Lizzie Mcguire Fantasy- only to come to realize that I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Do not get me wrong, Rome is gorgeous; but, it is also WAY too over crowded and WAY too fucking hot in the middle of July.
We saw all there was to see in Rome, from the Colosseum, to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, and even the Vatican. I took in the beauty the city had to offer; but it was hard to truly appreciate it when I was also taking in all the dusty air into my lungs and eyes.
Everyone was having a blast; but, we were all constantly complaining about how it was too hot to enjoy it to the fullest.
Each day we opted to spend only the early hours of the morning and very late hours of the night out in the city- otherwise we stayed at the current camp site and hid away in our air conditioned cabins, sipping on heavily mixed beverages and being the obnoxious tourists we all knew we were being.
I was ready for Venice, where we expected the weather to be just slightly less muggy.
What can i say about Venice?
Honestly, I loved it just as much as I disliked it.
The city was stunning; but, the crowds here made Rome seem spacious in comparison. The narrow design of the paths in Venice coupled with the July tourist season was a nightmare.
We took a gondola ride, which seemed like a good idea, only realize it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The most memorable part of Venice took place back at our campsite, which was a mess of young travelers just getting absolutely wasted. It was all a bit much.
One thing that was notable about our cabins was that the door to the room had to be locked with a key both when locking it from the inside or when locking it from the outside. This can sometimes lead to someone being locked in a room by someone else. Which is exactly what happened to Christina from our trip, whom was taking a shower when her roommate Danielle came out to join everyone for drinks, locking the cabin door to protect their belongings, not realizing Christina was inside.
Another thing to note was that two cabins connected to each other, with the bedrooms sharing walls.
Most importantly, in the cabin next to Christina and Danielle was Tasha and Dereck, two people who met on this trip and decided to have drunken fucked up messy sexy the first night of our tour, and, whom, to our discomfort, couldn’t, wouldn’t and fucking didn’t keep their hands or their lips off eachother the entire trip.
So, while Christina was locked in her cabin, unable to open the door that had been locked from the outside, Tasha and Derek were violently having seggs in their adjoining room. Meanwhile the rest of us were just outside having a blast and joking about how Tasha and Derek were probably going to regret that every photo they had taken on the trip so far included them together kissing, as the relationship wasn’t one built to last when she lived in South Africa and he lived in Australia and honestly they just seemed too horny for their own good.
It was when my drunk ass went in to my cabin to check on my charging phone that I saw twenty missed calls and multiple texts from Christina that read something along the lines of:
LOCKED IN CABIN- TASHA AND DEREK FUCKING SO LOUD AND ONE OF THEM JUST GIGGLED TOO HELPPPP MEEEEEEE PLZZZZZZZZZ
GET ME TF OUTTA HERE NOW CRIS PLEZZZZZ
I nearly fucking choked from laughter as I ran outside to Danielle to tell her to free Christina from their cabin.
Danielle rushed to unlock the door.
Christina came rushing out in hysterics because she too was also drunk, “OH MY GOD THEY’VE BEEN FUCKING FOR TWO HOURS!” she cried as she rushed over to the nearest cooler for another bottle of Smirnoff.
We all burst in to laughter so hard that we were falling over as Christina told us the tale of her being stuck in there forced to hear them fuck through paper thin walls.
I could say more; but everyone deserves some privacy, which is also why Tasha and Derek aren’t the two fuck buddies real names.
Anyway, with Christina thoroughly traumatized we all waited until the moment Tasha and Derek came outside to see just how well we could do without taunting them.
It lasted two minutes before someone asked them why they giggle during sex.
That, was Venice.
With Italy behind us, we packed our bags and began our last portion of the journey- a drive through Austria before stopping in Germany and the Netherlands. And while Italy may have been more shits and giggles, the rest of the trip was much the same, aside from Germany where I had one of the first moments in my life were I truly had to stand up and say something when I witnessed something extremely disrespectful take place at Dachau concentration camp- something perpetrated by two spoilt little rich girls from Florida. But, that’s a whole other vibe, and so, this is a great time to end off this weeks post.
I look forward to briefly wrapping up the final leg of my first tour around Europe on November 1st, before moving on to how I ended up living in Europe before meeting my now ex-husband- coming on November 5th.