I’m getting pretty good at grafting myself to people.
My latest victims are two 20-year-olds, both long-legged runners, studying in the States.
I met them at Rome’s train station as some young punk was trying to distract me, clearly in an effort to steal my bag.
I didn’t have a place to stay in Florence, so they kindly offered to share a three-person dorm tent at the camping ground with me.
It was actually pretty comfortable, although the outside smelt like piss, our neighbours woke me up one night when I could hear them having ridiculously loud sex through my industrial-strength earplugs, and there was a throbbing all-night, every-night Italian disco just across the fence.
But it was a great base to explore Florence from and as the long-legged runner (who sounded freakishly like Lisa Simpson) had excellent map reading skills, I saw a lot of the city without having to think.
We even stumbled across some weird exhibition, not sure what the meaning of this piece was, but it even smelt like a cake.
After all the sightseeing we went in search of a coffee break…and ended up at Mc Donalds.
I know, I know, but the golden arches seem to be the only place in Italy where you can sit down with a coffee without getting slapped with a service charge, which can easily triple the price of your espresso.
After a day of it, we decide to make a night of it and what a beautiful night it is.
Although on the way we run into a group of pre-pubescent boys.
I had to laugh when one of my travel buddies innocently pondered what they were saying in Italian and I had to break it to her that they were actually saying in English – “come suck my dick.”
We were outraged.
Seriously, they’re like 12.
I decide to start taking photos of them. They bolt.
We then meet the older cocker waiter version of them at our restaurant.
The first thing he says when we sit down and ask for a menu is – “can I have your phone number?”
Over the course of dinner he starts taking photos of himself on our cameras.
His ego is impressive, but unjustifiable.
And being from New Zealand, the home of Tall Poppy Syndrome and people who don’t toot their own horn I find European men in general very, very strange.
He’s easy to manipulate though, so with a bit of harmless batting of the eyes we get free shots of limoncello.
We’re on a roll and at our next bar we manage to wangle free apple shots, then when we ask the owner what’s the cheapest bottle of wine he can give us, he replies – “how about a free bottle of prosecco?”
All this drinking inevitably leads to dancing and before I know it both of my travel buddies are pashing and grinding on the dance floor to LMFAO.
I refuse to dance to LMFAO and besides I’m also trying to hide from this pasty American who thinks he’s Usher with diamond studs in both ears, waving his hands to the music like he’s from the west side.
No matter where I go – boom – he’s right there.
I swear I have a weirdo radar.
But, in what’s turning into a re-occurring theme for me, the next day I lose my travel buddies when they leave for Lake Como.
I’m alone – again.
This time queuing, while slightly hungover, to get into the Uffizi Galley and then the Accademia where Michaelangelo’s David is housed.
I know, I should have booked ahead to avoid queuing but getting wifi in Florence was a no-go.
And, to make my hangover worse, my iPod runs out of battery in the line to see David, and I’m stuck behind some insanely loud Americans for an hour-and-a-half.
I swear I nearly decked one of them when he finally got to the counter to pay and asked the Italian host in a very patronising voice – “do you speak American?”
One word on Americans…. I find it funny that they seem to be the only people in the world who when you ask where they’re from they tell you the state opposed to the country, as if you should automatically know where it is.
So I’ve decided that next time an American does this to me I’m going to reciprocate and tell them I’m from Stoke.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to David.
I was expecting some sort of build up, like the way the Vatican does with the Sistine Chapel, but no you walk in and he’s right there – all 5.17-metres of him.
And, I was expecting to be underwhelmed given replicas of David are everywhere in Florence but I actually gasped when I saw him. He’s seriously impressive.
I’d show you a photo but you’re not allowed to take any, so the best I can do is the replica of David at Piazza Michaelangelo next door to where I’m staying.