My last night in Florence. Day 10

The day
I wake with slight confusion at first as to why my alarm is going off at 8am... shit, wake up Allie. Well actually, first is find Allie. As I have only be here to drop my bag off and then drunkenly returning in the morning, it turns out there are actually more rooms than I had thought. A blurred recollection of Allie showing me where her room was when we got home last night comes back, but the memory is like looking through a tinted window at best, I can kind of see what's going on, but the details are not very sharp.

After checking every room, I can't see her, so I head back to bed hoping she made it. About 30mins later I am woken by the guy that works there, who is kindly going around everyone individually to wake them up, reminding us that we have to be out in an hour - what a nice personal touch, definitely not weird at all...

I head back to the hostel to see how Linda is going packing, then chill out beside the pool for a bit, where the reality that I am going to be a tour leader sailing the Croatian islands finally starts to sink in and I truly can't explain my excitement, and the irony of the whole situation that this was the original position that I had applied for is too much. Alanis Morrisette had it right when she said "life has funny way of sneaking up on you, yea life has a funny funny way, of helping you out" (no word of a lie this song just came on as I started writing it).

With all this excitement bottled up, I realize that I really miss my good girlfriends and want to be able to share all of this with them. I try ringing a couple of them to share my news and just to hear familiarity. So many times before when I have been traveling or by myself I have made the mistake of trying to do everything on my own. This more relates to the hard times, or when I am in need, I have always tended to keep everything to myself to the point where I break, and finally reach out when I am at rock bottom, only to realize that I just needed to share my thoughts with good friends or family. It takes hitting the bottom normally for me to finally realize that no matter where I am, I am never alone. In this case it is good news that I am dying to share, but I need to remember this for the hard times as well.

 I get another phone call from Lenny, one of the Managers for my new company, and he confirms my position, and that I just need to get myself to Istanbul as this is where their head office it, but also because I will be joining a tour of Turkey - nothing like my original training trip, I purely get to go on a 9day tour of Turkey as a passenger just so I can see what their tours are like - amazing, this just gets better and better as Turkey is a tour I have always wanted to do!

Linda has packed and is leaving tonight but she mentions that I can come to Venice and stay with her to save money until I head to Istanbul, and as I am down to my last 100quid this is amazing news. We again sit and the bar and have a last drink together in Florence before Linda jumps on a train to Venice, and I will join her tomorrow.

The night
Having a drink with Linda and another tour group from TravelX turn up, so the tour leader and driver join us for a drink. Linda heads off to get her train and I stay with the TravelX crew and have some more.

Tangent: In the real world
At this point I really feel I should say that in the real world drinking every day like this is not my normal day-to-day life (though people that went to Uni with me may disagree, but that is a compete other story in itself). My last job in London I was working 12 - 14hrs a day (not to mention the commute); I did this to the point of utter exhaustion, and absolutely broke down. For a period there I was in tears ever night, and couldn't say why. Work was draining and demanding, but I hate giving up, and I have always given my all to every job - again mostly to the point of breaking down. When I got told that my company wasn't going to sponsor me (as they had been leading me on for 4months under the pretense that they would) I thought I would be devastated as I really loved my London life and was not ready to leave. But when my boss told me the news it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, relief at this moment was a very surprising reaction to me. Looking back this job was definitely not right for me at that time - though as always happens, as soon as I knew I was leaving I started to love my job, I was more relaxed and feel I slipped into being the type of manager I have always wanted to be.

So while I feel kind of bad drinking everyday, there really is nothing else to do, and the staff have said that they like having me around as they normally only get to see the same people for 2 - 3days at a time, they may make a connection, then have to start all over again when people move on. So I think they keep making me drink for the company. Again I can't even explain their generosity and kindness to me over the last week, they really are beautiful people and almost feel like my brothers.

Back to drinking, the driver goes to bed as he is driving in the morning so can't have a big one, and the tour leader goes and mingles with his group. I finish my drink and contemplate going to bed, then a kiwi guy (Adam) from the group sits down and we start chatting, within 2mins I get two high fives, one for being a fellow kiwi and the other for being the same age as him.

Let me explain the latter high five more - I look around and notice that yes, almost every other girl here is 18 - 20; and while I don't exactly consider myself old, and I am more than capable than being the crazy drunk girl, looking around and hearing some of these girls conversations, I definitely feel the age difference. Adam was the first to bring it up; saying that he also doesn't feel that old, but these girls are making him feel it more and more. On their coach it is 36 girls vs. 11 guys, great odds one would think; but Adam says it just feels wrong, and hasn't once wanted to hook up with any of them (which just quietly sounds like a good pick up line, but throughout the night I have watched most of these girls throw themselves at him and he has in one way or another escaped it).

We carry on chatting and have a conversation about our favourite books, and end up writing a top 5 books list for each other to read (which I decide is actually a great way to extend my reading list and decide to do this with more people I meet along my way). Soon the tour leader joins us again, did I mention that he is Irish and quite cute? Well within seconds our table is swarmed with 8 drunken 18year old girls all fighting for the attention of the guys. Irish turns to me and says help, and I just have to laugh, this is my cue to leave, no way am I getting in the middle of this, and I have a feeling that mine and Adam's conversation about books has come to an abrupt end.

A couple of the boys from the hostel are heading to the fortress to drink, and as it is my last night in Florence I decide to go with them as I would much rather enjoy a drink with these guys in a park, than sit through more of the drunken conversations of these girls. I don't want to tell everyone about going, as it is a spot for locals, not to mention I don't want to be responsible for babysitting  all of these drunken girls (who have somehow caught wind that I am going somewhere and keep asking where and if they can come) - one of whom is currently trying  to climb a fence to break into the pool... But I do decide to mention it to Adam and 2 other girls who are also our age that I had been chatting to earlier, as we were all on the same page and I thought that they may enjoy actually seeing somewhere in Florence with the locals, rather than only seeing the inside of the hostel walls.

Immediately Irish tells me to stop telling his passengers other things to do, saying I am going to get them "drunk and raped"... (I am not sure what picture of Florence he has painted for them, but that is certainly not the Florence I have experienced). So I leave it, and just leave with the boys.

Side note: 
More and more I am g lad that I got kicked off; after having seen quite a few groups come through, I really don't know that I could have handled:
a) being around mostly drunken 18 - 20year olds
b) drinking most nights, but only normally staying in hostels or going to bars that XTravel have a commercial relationship with, i.e. taking everyone to a karaoke bar in Italy...

I think the beauty of Europe would have escaped me very quickly were this to be my life for 4months. Don't get me wrong; I think this is a great way to travel if you want to tick a lot of things off, and I cannot knock the company in terms of how organized it is, and clearly how much they put into their training, also I am now friends with a lot of the tour leaders who are amazing people, and they absolutely love their job - which is brilliant; but for me there are just a few aspects of the company culture that don't align with me. 

Anyway, we head to the fortress and just chill with a couple more drinks and a cheeky smoke. We leave and when I go to head back to my hostel by myself they tell me not to be stupid, and Valerio gives up his bed for me. See what I mean about  how amazing these boys are, and how they are like my brothers??

Again I set my alarm for 8am (its currently 4:30am) as Alessandro has said that I can come on his wine tour of Tuscany tomorrow morning for free (God I have been spoilt), which leaves at 9:15am...

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