Lost on the Hogwarts express
After all that thinking, I just missed my train so I waited for the next whilst having a bit of breakfast.
It’s amazing how when you go to another country or you step out of your comfort zone, you notice things you wouldn’t normally. The details. Characters. As I sat eating a very sticky croissant and drinking a very small coffee I watched the grey men in front of me. The man who lived to fit his chair perfectly, just easing past the armrests to slot into place, his shorter friend who looked like an Italian Chuckle Brother. Toni, oh Toni, he was bold as ice, and willing to sacrifice. Thinning on top but letting his grey waterfall cascade to his shoulders. As I sat there I wondered what these guys do with their days. Where they would be when I arrived in Florence? I wondered if Toni had always been so cool, or if he’d grown into it. What was he like at school? What were they talking about?
Then I read my book.
The train came (as they often do) and I found my seat located in a booth. I like a good change of system so I pretended I was off to Hogwarts and dozed off a while.
The train sped along the coast through seaside towns with names I don’t know and not a stick of rock in sight. It was sunny and the terracotta pots on their yellow balconies shone bright like burning earth. As I drifted in and out of my delicate slumber, I almost felt like I was in Catalonia. Maybe they use the same cleaning chemicals on the train, maybe it was the coast, either way, I remembered where I was then closed my eyes again.
I travelled the rest of the way, time passed, I grew hungry. I finally got to Florence. Having studied my instructions to the hostel I felt confident about arriving quickly. This confidence was put in doubt after one minute’s walking I found I was walking the wrong direction. After being corrected, the rest of the walk was thoroughly pleasant and I arrived at my hostel to find a tiny lady shouting my name. She checked me in whilst saying ‘Uncle Sam’ and then laughing like Roz from Monsters. Inc. this lady was a real character and I forgot all about Toni.
She showed me her map of Florence, talked me through her notes and showed me pictures from postcards of what each place should look like. I wondered where was good to eat and didn’t listen to everything but I was very grateful. I left and found the first food I could. It was expensive and small. But I felt ready to explore.