When the plane shudders, drops a few feet and shudders some more – the last thing you want to hear is the crackling of speakers marking an upcoming announcement. You start to panic – what’s going on? Is this normal turbulence, or are we about to plummet from the sky and die? Hot flushes and adrenalin rushes course through your body, this is it – it can’t get any worse.
Yes it can. It can get a hell of a lot worse – how? When the announcement over the loud speaker is in a different language. When the half of the plane who understand break out into heated and high-pitched conversation. The sinking feeling that comes with this – they know you’re going to die and you only have a few seconds before the English translation comes and you will know too.
This is exactly what happened as my Meridian airline flight hit stormy weather mid-way over Italy. Well, almost exactly. The announcement didn’t predict the oh so certain fate of death that I had predicted, but it did pass on the distressing news that we wouldn’t be landing in Pretola – we would be landing in Bologna.
On landing I opted out of the replacement bus service and joined forces with two men. The three of us took a taxi to the railway station. A forty minute journey on a luxury train later, I arrived in the town I was seeking – I arrived in Florence.
I have come here for two reasons: 1 – to visit my dear friend Olivia Crane who is studying at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art and 2 – to edit my travelogue ‘Alice’s Adventures in…India.’
Dragging my fuchsia pink bag along the slippery platform, I spied her. With a black smudge of charcoal on her cheek, a spotty umbrella and a baggy shirt, Olivia looked every part the artist. God it was good to see her. We took a taxi through a maze of cobbled streets, meandering through people and slicing through puddles before pulling up in Via dei Conciatori, home of Crane and my accommodation for the week.
After meeting her housemates and dropping off my bag we ventured out for a catch up and some Italian cuisine – the unsaid 3rd reason for the visit…
The First Supper
Me and a glass of Chianti