At long last, I've arrived at my destination. In one piece, no less. The lines at London Gatwick were just about ridiculous. I'm glad I had a 2.5 hour layover because I needed most of it. They're still going crazy with the War On Moisture in England. I had to toss my little tube of chapstick because, well, who knows what I could have done with it. I don't even want to think about it. The airport cops carry Uzi machine guns, for crying out loud--I'm not going to push my luck.
I grabbed a taxi to my hotel. I'm staying at a place called Hotel I Cedri (pronounced "e ched-ree"), which means The Cedars. Not that I see any cedar trees anywhere near here. It's on the small side but the rooms are really quite nice.
Things are definitely different on this side of the pond. There's a lot of things here I just don't understand. There's a string escaping into the wall in the shower with a red paddle on the end. I'm not sure what it's for, but when I pull on it a buzzer sounds. I hope it's not some kind of emergency signal, not especially because I'm afraid of sending a false alarm, but because nobody comes to my rescue when I activate it.
I can't figure out how to work the heater in my room--the funky digital thermostat goes right back to 'off' as soon as I try turning it on. You have to put the keychain in a slot in the wall to get the electricity to turn on. And there's what looks like a heated towel rack, but turning the knob from 0 all the way up to 5 has no discernible effect.
I've been out exploring Scandicci while there was still daylight. I've been walking up and down the streets checking out the local shops and cafés (which are temptingly called "bars" here). As expected, the espresso is top notch. Surprisingly few people speak English in this small town. Either that, or they enjoy watching the foreigner struggle with speaking Italian. I'm fine with it either way, I need the practice.
Unfortunately it's been raining in the Florence metro, and it will be the entire time I'm here. The weather has been putting a damper on my exploration and photo-taking opportunities. Even still, I donned the raincoat and decided to walk over to a local museum. After walking over two miles in the rain (uphill), I got to a wooden gate with a "No Trespassing" sign that was blocking the road Silvia (the Nüvi) wanted me to take. I don't know if it was closed for the day or closed for good. I had to choose to either climb the gate or walk back dejected. You know which one I did.
Tomorrow, to the office.