June 29, 2019: Errands in Montecatini

Saturday. GT2 Day Twenty One. Montecatini Terme, Italy.

Today is our second day in Tuscany, in Montecatini Terme. Not much sleep for me last night, the lumpy mattress on the floor made for almost no sleep. Dominica at least managed to get good, if not comfortable, sleep. Emily got up by ten, sweating from how hot their room is as it has no air conditioning and they slept with the door shut.

I checked again this morning and there is basically no Internet. I can’t even browse web pages most of the time, let alone try to upload anything. So we are pretty limited on what we can do. I have to write the SGL updates to a text editor in the hopes of putting them up on the site sometime in the future. So it is that bad, no way could we post pictures or videos, we can’t even use the Internet access to check email or post blog updates! This is how I remember Tuscany, very antiquated. Beautiful and wonderful, but living in the 1960s.

I had maybe two hours to work on things this morning before Emily and I were ready to head out to look for a nail salon. Google gave us some direction, so we drove out west of town hoping to find something there. Dominica and Madeline stayed home to relax, read, sleep, and do laundry. We ended up having to drive around quite a bit and went to three different places. The first was on a back street, up a flight of stairs and they never answered the door. The second was tiny and let us in, but when they heard us speak English they claimed that they did not do nails. The third place was bigger and the lady was nice and spoke no English, but she had a client there who did and translated and Emily was able to explain what she needed and the woman fit her in for two thirty this afternoon, two hours later than when we were there.

We texted Madeline to let her and Dominica know that they had ten minutes before Emily and I would be back there and would pick them up to run to McDonald’s for lunch, so that we could get them back to the house and get back to the nail salon.

McDonald’s is just a little south of town, there is a Burger King right next to it as well. These are not common in Italy, but you can find them every so often. Madeline got chicken nuggets. Emily got a double cheeseburger. Dominica got an egg McMuffin without the meat. And I got the fillet o fish. This McDonalds did not have electronic ordering, which I think is a first without it in Europe for me in a very long time. Must be a very old store.

After lunch we dropped them off and went right back to the nail salon getting there fifteen minutes early, which is about right because we definitely did not want to be late for a last minute appointment, and she got Emily right in. Emily figured that we would be there for about half an hour.

I tried waiting outside, but the temperature was in the hundreds and my phone was overheating. I stood outside for maybe twenty minutes, but that was all that I could take. Then I got into the car and turned it on and cranked up the AC, and plugged in my phone to charge. It is a good thing that I did, Emily ended up taking over two hours to get everything done! They did not have acrylic nails like we have in the US, nor could they even figure out what the people in the US had done, but they did an awesome job of making Emily’s real nails look way better than the acrylic ones. So she is very happy.

We drove back to the house then. It was four thirty. A full day of just running errands. Now we have a little bit of time to relax at the house before heading to Montecatini Alto for dinner tonight. While at the house I did some real work, and made some travel videos. But all of that stuff will be uploaded later because we do not have enough Internet to post even pictures. I did a bit of blogging, and I am hoping that that is able to post. It takes hours to get enough data through to be able to just post a single blog post on SGL! So I am writing the updates in a text editor in the hopes of getting to upload those later, too. Keeping everyone at home up to date with what is going on here is much harder than it seems.

At a quarter till eight we walked to the funiculare which is very near our apartment. Dominica, Liesl, Luciana, and I all rode this up to Montecatini Alto in 2012, it was very cool. Tickets are now seven Euros for adults and kids over ten, for round trip up and down. So that was twenty eight Euros for us. And for those wondering, it is cash only.

We were at the perfect time, as we bought out tickets, had a maximum of five minutes to wait, and were riding up the hill. I believe that this is the first time in a funiculare for the girls. Something you almost never see in the US. Or most of the world, in fact. They are so efficient, though, it is too bad that they are not more common.

The walk from the funiculare to the piazza in Alto is nothing, just a couple of turns. And it was just as we remembered it, but a bit busier. Dominica and the girls walked to every restaurant on the piazza and looked at the menus for a very long time. I just sat by the monument waiting for them to figure out where we could eat. Eventually, after much arguing, it was decided that we would eat at the same restaurant that Dominica, Liesl, Luciana, and I ate at in 2012 and they still had the “Francesca” on the menu. Dominica got that, in fact. I got a tuna, rocket, and bean sprout dish that is a specialty there. Madeline got spaghetti pomodoro again, her fifth of the trip I believe (that’s just spaghetti with tomato sauce), and Emily got ravioli in a meat sauce, which she devoured quickly. I got some Chianti with dinner, which was very tasty.

After dinner we went down the hill and stopped into a place that did crepes for Dominica and the girls to get crepes. I really do not like crepes much, certainly not enough to waste calories on them. This works out well as it discourages me from eating desserts, something I do not need. I was suprosed that both Dominica and Emily ate more than me today! Emily had a bigger lunch than either of us, and they both ate more and bigger dinners than me. That rarely, if ever, happens.

It was dark when we rode the funiculare down the hill again. I had forgotten how awesome the lights of Montecatini Terme were from Alto. We were surprised by this view seven years ago. Just fantastic.

A short walk back home and everyone was ready for bed. Emily has decided that they want to get up at about five thirty and head into Firenze (Florence) first thing so that they can get into the museums and see the city on the hop on, hop off bus tomorrow. Tomorrow is supposed to be record temperatures and of all places the Firenze museums are not on my list to see. They are expensive and often house just a handful of important works so that you spend a ton of time and money and get to see very little. And the city’s most famous work is one I do not even like, the statue of David. So my plan is to drop them at the outer tram stop and return to the apartment for the day and get some rest while they explore the city in record breaking heat. Everyone has gotten lots of time to relax that I have not gotten on this trip because I am the driver. They nap in the car, go to bed earlier, get up later, Dominica has had two whole days and nearly a third where she has taken the day off, Madeline had today off, etc. So I am way behind on “getting breaks” by comparison so this seems like the perfect, and likely only, chance that I will have on this trip. And unlike everyone else, I have to be working during the trip as well, and being home alone makes that easier.

Last night I got no sleep, the mattress on the floor just did not work for me and I was up all night. Getting in late tonight and having to be up at just after five tomorrow means that I will be sick with lack of sleep while trying to stave off heat exhaustion. So just the thought of it scares me a bit. I’ll be lucky to pull off four hours of sleep tonight. If I do, I’ll be okay overall, but still a bit tired. But I will be lucky to be able to get that much.

Liesl and Luciana both talked to me a bit as I was getting ready for bed. Ciana talks to me just a tiny bit each day. Liesl has only spoken to me once or twice so far. I’m really missing them. Being away this long is really hard and I am very sad being in Europe without them.

Before falling asleep tonight, about the worst sound that someone with sleep apnea can ever hear, happened. I was really close to drifting off to sleep, finally, when I heard a loud pop and my air stopped. Yup, my CPAP blew a circuit and no longer turns on or recognizes having power in any way whatsoever. This happened about three in the morning. Dominica has to be up in two hours, so I figured that there was no reason to wake her. There is nothing to be done in the middle of the night. So here we are. This is a full on emergency for which there is no gameplan. We have more than a week left to go, I’ve already lost a night of sleep and now I am losing a second, and it is dangerous for me to fall asleep. You can’t buy CPAPs in most of Europe because they are just free for residents from their national health plans. Stores simply don’t carry them, no one would buy them. And we can’t get one from the US. And we can’t order one because we don’t have enough time. So I have no idea what the next move is.