Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, August 31, 2015

Frankenstein Sundae, 149

Leaving Geneva, Switzerland, to pursue the Shelleys in Italy ...

The next day—April 22, 1999—I was on the train, racing along the shore of Lake Geneva (as I wrote in my journal), thinking about how in some ways it looked like Yellowstone Lake, which, of course, does not have the city of Geneva sitting on its shores. I commented, too, about the beauty of the day (cursing my luck: Why didn’t I have this day at Chamonix!?). And on I rolled toward Italy, where the Shelleys had gone with such hopes early in 1818. Such vain hopes …

My first stop (a quick one to change trains): Milan, where I nearly got on the wrong one. (My ignorance of the Italian language biting me for the first time.) And then Bologna, which had a McDonald’s in the depot. And then Florence, where, as I wrote in my journal later that day, I was a little shaken. Here’s what happened, pretty much as I wrote it then, an account of a wee “adventure” when I stepped off the train:

I headed the wrong way out of the station (which is front? which is back?), and by the time I figured out I’d erred, I was in a [full streaming sweat], back at the station, in a crowd. A gypsy woman approached me—feigning the sale of cloth; I knew she was picking my pocket—and she did! I yelled at her, “Get away! Get away! No!” Then she offered me my own passport for $, indicating I’d dropped it. A sly smile. I grabbed it—& fortunately saw [virtually right in front of me] the Hotel Roma & signed in. … And so there are lessons to be learned: Avoid close contact; keep valuables even more secure; get a better city map than the one in my Michelin Guide; carry passport in inside pocket—keep jacket zipped in close contact & keep hand on wallet. 

It was the oddest thing (though oddest is far too pale a word): I saw her coming; I knew she was going to pick my pocket; she still slipped my passport out of my front pants pocket without my feeling a thing. And, as I said, I was “shaken,” so, feeling sorry for myself, I hung out in my room awhile, then recovering somewhat (oh, the buoyancy I could so quickly recover in 1999!), I took my camera and headed outside on a beautiful day to photograph one of the world’s most remarkable cities.

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