Day 11 (February 15th)

Those of you faithfully checking the blog for updates will have noticed that we found an Internet Café this morning.  After the updates we headed back to the apartment to collect Mitzi and be on our way to Siena.

The day was sunny so we enjoyed many more stunning views of the Tuscan countryside on our way.  I’m sure I annoyed pretty much every Italian driver we encountered because I steadfastly remained on my side of the road and drove at or below the posted speedlimit.  I usually pulled over as soon as I could to let people by, mostly because the distance they tailgated at made me nervous.

We discovered that the GPS from Avis is a piece of crap and it didn’t pick up a signal on our way to Siena (it kept asking, “Are you in a building?”).  So, we had no idea how to get to the parking lot we wanted and I ended up turning onto a restricted street, and having to do a U-turn with many people watching.  As I sweated and tried to find a way out of the suddenly heavy traffic, Miwa decided it was a good time to take a big crap.  This of course upset her and she began to cry.  If anyone wants a harrowing, stressful experience I strongly suggest driving through an unfamiliar city with very narrow streets packed with the craziest, least capable drivers you have ever encountered whilst a baby in the back seat shrieks her displeasure at your inability to find even a place to pull over so that you can deal with her more pressing issues.

It actually took another 15 minutes, which incorporated another foray within the walls, past a full parkade, and back out past the site of my first venture up a restricted street, before I found an open space on the side of the road.  Jill changed Miwa while I sat quietly in the front seat and did breathing exercises.

I was watching traffic, trying to figure out how I was going to nose my way back into the flow, when a large flatbed came to a dead stop directly in the centre of the intersection behind us and the traffic ceased to flow.  A cacophony of horns immediately sprang up, but the truck driver appeared to be deaf to them as I saw no sign of movement.

I took the opportunity and got back onto the road, intending to head around the town until we saw signs for a parking lot.  I didn’t tell Jill, but my intent was actually to head back to Greve as soon as I saw a sign for that.  Fortunately we ended up going past the train station, which had a parkade, so we pulled in.  We promptly found the washrooms, bought a map, and headed off for the centre of town, walking.

It was during this walk following many more confused looking people holding maps, in that we began to suspect just how poorly placed the train station is, but more on that later.

Siena was lovely, lots of nice of buildings and good views of the surrounding country.  One feature of Siena that none of the guide books had prepared us for was the hills and stairs.  There were huge changes in elevation even from the front to the back of a building.  I asked Mitzi what she thought of all the hills, and she said simply, “Today was hard.”

We did eventually find the parking area we had been headed for originally and saw a sign saying that parking was 15 euros per day.  Since the train station was only 2 euros, we felt a little better about parking there.

The walk out back to the station turned into an epic journey, as construction and private property not shown on the map, made our route longer and longer.  The tension was elevated, since by this point we were all getting desperate for a washroom, and every wrong turn made me sweat a little harder.  We eventually made it and all ended well, though Mitzi was horrified that I just dashed into the bathroom with Miwa still attached to me in the sling.  She was fine and slept through the whole procedure.

I annoyed more Italians on the way back to Greve but managed to fight off a rising urge to honk at the people coming towards me on my side of the road.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll try swerving towards them and see how they react.  I’m pretty sure I know how Mitzi will react when I try it.  J

We were hoping to get fresh pasta for dinner, but the store was closed, despite posted hours to the contrary.  So we made due with quasi-fresh pasta from the COOP that was delicious anyway.  The bag-in-a-box wine is holing up fine and there’s probably a couple meals left in it.

Ciao

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