We are eating lunch on top of the wall that surrounds the city of Lucca…
My typical day so far: Breakfast, followed by four 50-minute lectures with breaks in between, followed by lunch. Then three hours free time during which I try desperately to stay awake and mostly fail. In the evenings, a couple hours of workshops before dinner. After dinner, hanging out on the terrace drinking wine.
This hotel is basically in the middle of nowhere, so the hotel restaurant is the only option for these meals. See the comment thread on the previous post for some further remarks on that.
Sightseeing excursions are planned for tomorrow afternoon (Lucca), Saturday (Florence), and Sunday (various sites in Tuscany).
Total travel time: 23 hours. Each leg was painful in its own way.
The transatlantic flight: very cramped, I was in a middle seat between two guys of about my dimensions, so sleep was impossible. Luckily it was one of the planes with the individual monitors and a large selection of movies, so I did something I’ve been meaning to do for years: I finally watched Casablanca. Totally amazing film, I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. I followed up with L.A. Confidential, and then read a large chunk of Kafka on the Shore (which referenced Casablanca, so I could put my new cultural knowledge to use immediately).
The Amsterdam airport was very nice, clean, and efficient. My connection was to Paris, a 45 minute flight, but it was delayed by an hour, which was about how long I had to make my next connection. So I spent that flight on the edge of my seat. Fortunately flights out of de Gaulle airport (not so nice, clean, or efficient) were delayed as well, so I made my connection by about two minutes.
This was a puddlejumper to Florence. I had a window seat, which gave me a great view of the Alps as we flew over. I attempted to take some pictures of this but it’s not clear whether they came out. Unfortunately, directly behind me was a kid (approx. 2 years old?) who was in the top three worst-behaved children I’ve had the misfortune to share an airplane with. Shouting and wailing and kicking the back of the seat the whole way.
And finally a taxi ride from Florence to the hotel, through the Tuscan countryside. So it was nice to look at, but very motion-sickness inducing. On top of this the cab driver had no idea where the hotel is, and kept having to stop for directions. Obviously, I eventually did make it here.
Now I am battling vicious jetlag, with the morning lectures scheduled right when I’d normally be falling asleep in California. The lectures are occupying much of my time, and for the rest of it I am making some attempt to be social. (Novel concept, I know.) Sightseeing comes later in the week and on the weekend.
After spending most of the week incapacitated by illness, I’ve been frantically preparing for my trip to Italy. I leave tomorrow, at the crack of 4 pm. (Note to the person who scheduled my 6 am Chicago flight: this is how it’s done.) My previous trip to Italy was very good for me romantically, but I do not have high expectations in that regard for this one, as I will be in a relatively isolated area surrounded mostly by physicists.
I’ll have internet access in some form, so I’ll try to do some travel-blogging and post some photos if possible. If the blog does go silent for a while, entertain yourselves in the open thread, or go outside or something.
I return Friday July 8, after which I will go see Batman Begins and Land of the Dead, and take up some larger projects.
Government agents have given me an antidote that slows the progress of the zombie infection. This provides me with some lucidity for spans of a few hours, but between doses I can feel my consciousness deteriorating, and the hunger for brains increasing. Meanwhile, Fafnir relates his own experiences with the epidemic; it seems that he has miraculously escaped infection.
Mary Timony: Ex Hex: I decided to pick up this album after the Sleater-Kinney concert, where Mary Timony was the opening band. The vocals are just okay; Mary Timony’s real strength is her guitar, so on songs like “9×3″ I’ve mostly been ignoring the lyrics and just listening to the instrumentation.
I tend to buy actual CDs rather than tracks on iTunes since I like having a physical object, with album art and liner notes. I really like the cover to Ex Hex for reasons that are not clear to me.
I am back from Chicago, but have been stricken with a dire plague. Fever, chills, congestion, muscle aches: I can only conclude that I have fallen victim to a zombie infection. Within hours I will rise from my sickbed to feed on the brains of the living.
However, I do not intend to let this stop me from blogging. Before I succumb, I will chain myself in front of the computer Shaun of the Dead-style, so that my undead self will continue to maintain this site. Sure, it may become more brains-oriented: brain recipes, brain restaurant recommendations, reviews of CD’s consisting of zombie-rock bands shouting “BRAAAAAINS”… but I hope my loyal readers will not be too perturbed by these relatively minor changes.
For those of you that are still healthy, refer to this page for sound advice.
Beginning hour 10 at the airport, we are back on the plane and may actually take off this time. I hit my head on a cabinet door while boarding, but the bleeding is not too severe.
So I’ve been sitting on this plane for more than an hour, on the runway in Oakland. They worked on a mechanical problem until they decided a panel needed replacing. Unfortunately there’s no replacement here, so they are sending one from San Francisco. In a taxi. Meanwhile, they are showing a movie, The Pacifier, to, uh, pacify us. I got up at 3:45 for this?