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Shootout with Terrorists
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Today morning my wife calls me and tells me there was a shootout on the seaside in Salmiya. From all days today the internet wasn’t working at the office so I didn’t have a clue about anything. We had information trickle inside to the office but it mostly consisted of rumors and word of mouth. Around an hour later my sister calls me with more details. Most importantly she told me exactly how to find the place. So when my lunch break came I decided to quickly drive down to Salmiya and try to take some shots. I didn’t know if i would be allowed to take pictures or not but I put my camera on consecutive shooting and figured worst comes to worst I drive by shoot (pictures). I got to the place from the sea side and there was a bit of traffic, i took a couple of shots and then decided to park my car and try to get closer. I got to the site and found alot of cops. I quickly snapped pictures of all the damage and the cops and decided to swiftly leave before anyone decided to harass me. I shot around 60 pictures, here are the best.

Arno
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View towards the West (downstream) of the river Arno and the hills around Florence. In the distance you can see one of the few remaining towers that were once part of the city walls.
Here is the last part of my diary. The series starts here. I wonder if any of you really read it.

October 6th, 5.13 p.m. Back in town.

I am at the entrance of the Ufizzi. I am surprised that it only took me 45 minutes to get here.

An Italian guide probably tells her audience that they are going to stand in line in front of the Ufizzi. You know, the one that is 200 meters long. I took 40 pictures so far. Everytime I want to take a picture I have to think twice if I already did take one from a particular subject or not. I will not know if there are a lot of the same pictures until I am home. In the meantime an ambulance comes racing across the Piazza della Signoria The siren makes the noise of a steam whistle that is about to be butchered (as far as that is possible). The police car chasing it sounds like an drunk donkey.

7.40 p.m. "At home".

I am back at the hotel again. Of course I got lost again when I took the wrong turn at the Baptistery. Every time I thought I knew where I was, I turned out to be somewhere else after all. It has been dark since 6.00 p.m. so I couldn’t see the landmarks that help me during daylight. Finally I ended up on a square near the railway station. I had ‘diner’ there. It existed of two sandwiches and Cola. How original. As a dessert I had a magnificent Cappucino.

After I have taken a shower I will read a bit before I go to sleep. There is no beer tonight. I hope to find a teller-machine tomorrow. That way I don’t have to worry about money all the time. And now the money-counting ritual

This morning I still had: L117.150,–

This is what is left if it : L 66.100,–

So I spent : L 51.050,– That is an all-time low!!! Just what I needed!

11.15 p.m.

Just finished the book about Sandro Botticelli. Sleep well.

October 7th, 8.10 a.m

I had a good night sleep, but I wish I could lay down for a little while. Today is the last one. BUMMER!!!

Today’s program: the Medici-Chapels, Basilica Santa Maria Novella and the Basilica dei Ognisanti. The weather is terrific! A clear blue sky, just like yesterday. I am starting to regret that I did not bring my shorts.

10.57 a.m. Medici-Chapels.

The Basilica Santa Maria Novella was alright, but unfortunatelly the larger part was not accesible for tourists. After my visit to this church I got lost again, for a change. I walked through a neigborhood with large villas. I also discovered a guitarshop. Teller-machines are not very common here in Florence. The bankers of the De Medici-family would feel ashamed that this piece of modern banking-device is so scarse in their city. There was not one machine that liked my bankpass. Every time I shoved it into the machine it came back faster then I could put it there. Why was I so stupid to leave without my checkbook? Stupid *******!!!

In the chapels, the lesser gods of the family are burried downstairs. Like Joanna of Austria and her husband Francesco de Medici for instance. I am sitting halfway up the stairs writing. Four days of playing tourist in a city where there is too much to see asks a lot of my legs. The larger part of the stairs are equiped with a bar so I can hold on, and thus prevent myself from rolling down faster than I could climb up.

11.29 a.m. On the stairs next to the exit.

The Medici-Chapels and the Capella dei Principi were very impressive. I noticed that the tombs in the latter where not completely finished or maybe Michelangelo had done a bad job. The chiselmarks were still visible on large parts of the back of the monuments. He did finish the assignment 10 years before his death. Maybe there was no more money to finish it properly. Nevertheless they still are fantastic works of art. Every muscle, every fingertip and every string of hair is, at most places, worked out in very fine detail. I think I will roam the souvenir-shop before I leave. No, I won’t buy anything!

11.46 a.m. Piazza dei San Lorenzo, behind the Medici-Chapels.

The weather is still very nice. I still feel sorry about not having shorts to wear, but who would have expected this kind of weather in October.

On the stairs in front of the San Lorenzo church and on the square pigeons, tourist and Florentine citizens walk while they enjoy life and in some cases each other. But it is not busy in spite of the little market around the square. The Chiesa San Lorenzo is designed by Brunelleschi. ‘Who else?’, I wonder. Sometimes it seems like he designed half the city. Next to the church there is a library where ancient Greek and Roman texts are kept, written by people like Plato and Socrates and more of the famous thinkers of ancient times. Perhaps I should take a look when it opens. At times like these I realise that live is simple. It is just the people that make it look complicated. Perhaps I can take some pictures in the church.

1 minute later.

Aaarggg! Why me!!! While I was writing and enjoying the sun and the view the clock struck 12.00 a.m. Closing-time for this church. I will not be open until 3.30 p.m. Siësta is nice, but not when you are a touristic fanatic as I am. O.K., first I will get something to drink. After that I will make a change of plans. (Where did I hear that before?)

12.28 p.m. Still near the San Lorenzo.

I don’t feel like throwing my empty Cola beaker into the dustbin. It is only 15 meters away, but the sun makes me very lazy. It is the last day. So what? If I am lazy. Maybe it is not so bad after all, this Siësta thing.

13.03 p.m. In front of the Baptistery.

After I bought myself a bottle of mineralwater I moved to the Baptistery again. The square where I was only a few minutes ago was very peacefull. It is only about 200 meters away, but the atmosphere is very different from where I am now. There is a lot of heavy traffic racing in circles around the square. There are a lot more tourists, Florentine people driving tourists around in carriages towed by horses and guides shouting to their audiences. There are artists drawing charicatures and others paint tourists and famous sites of Florence in various styles. Everywhere I hear a pandemonium of languages. Italian, German, Japanese, French, English… Two police-officers are riding their bikes across the Piazza San Giovanni while this is prohibited for anything on wheels. But hey, what do you need rules for. As far as traffic is concerned I learned that "The rules are, that there are no rules." Traffic-lights just change color for fun and signs are just erected for decoration. I discovered that is it quite exciting to cross the street. It is a miracle that it went almost wrong just once. I lost my balance because I tripped. And I stumbled on to a crossing. A scooter just missed me and flew past me by making a gracious curve. I already had visions of disasterous head to tail collisions that you sometimes see in slapsticks made in the 1930’s.

Time to enjoy my Tinnea. (mineralwater.)

2.38 p.m. In front of the Duomo.

10 Minutes ago I bought a pizza at Sergio’s bar. There is nothing left of it. I also ran out of mineralwater. I really enjoy this incredible lazy day. It saves a lot of money too! The San Lorenzo church opens in 45 minutes. I think I will take a look.

I just made up a joke about little Japanese people with big cameras. I won’t write it down. It is not funny. Being lazy makes it hard to distinguish the line between funny and boring…

3.40 p.m. Near the San Lorenzo.

My first thought when I got inside:"Just another church." Four days of playing the arthistorian is too much. Even for me. My head aches and my legs and back feel like they have been grinded. I almost pity myself. It has been fantastic, but it has been enough too. Only now I notice that I am on my own. I feel like talking somebody senseless. IN DUTCH!!!

6.45 p.m. Back in the hotel.

What did I have for dinner? Two sandwiches of course. With salami this time. And a large beer. I bought two cans of beer for tonight. I spent so little money that I could afford it. I will have a well deserved shower and then I will read in my book about Raphael. I ache from my belly button right down to my toes and I am exhausted. Tomorrow is an early day. The plane leaves at 7.30. a.m. With a little luck I will be home by 10.30. I hope I won’t forget to ask the reception for a wake-up call. If they know what I mean. But first I’ll take a shower.

Money makes the world go ’round, the world go ’round, the world go ’round!" The moment of money-counting has come.

This morning in my wallet: L66.100,–

This is what there is left : L29.100,–

Again an all-time low. I wonder???

8.13 p.m. In bed allready.

I just asked for the "wake-up call". If this Italian guy understood me he will wake me at 5.00 a.m. I don’t think I will get much sleep. I’m afraid he didn’t.

October 8th, 5.03 a.m.

So the request for a "wake-up call" was understood. In contradiction to my suspisions of yesterday I did sleep like a baby.

7.15 a.m. In the plane.

The airport seemed more like a large busstop to me, compared to Schiphol. I met a dutch couple in the restaurant. I finally had the chance to talk dutch after four days! I can say that I did not spare my victims. But I don’t think they minded. They even offered me large esspreso. In spite of my protests I was not allowed to pay for it myself. And of course my protest was very persistant (NOT!).

This morning I arrived at the airport at 5.58 a.m. For a moment I was afraid that I had to stop the taxi halfway because of a shortage of money. I already saw myself dragging my suitecase behind me trying not to miss the plane. I paid the driver L.26.000,–, about 6.000 lires more than when I arrived. From the restaurant I saw the plane. This plane has four engines, ‘vacuumcleaners’ as my dad calls them, underneath the wings. I took my last picture of it. Now I am sitting underneath the right wing. More comfortable than on the journey to Florence. I sat at the back then. Of course the sun shines like it has in the last couple of days.

8.44 a.m. Overlooking Germany or maybe France.

This is very special. Having breakfast overlooking the Alps. It is delicious by the way. Unlike the lunch I had four days ago. Then I had a piece of bread looking and tasting like a rubberball with a chunk of jelly and a glass of Cola. Now it is really good. To start with there is a large glass of Succo d’Arancia (Orange juice, that is.) and two cups of coffee. I also have a sandwich with Parma ham and a croissant with a big piece of cheese. I could have taken another sandwich with jelly, but I had this for breakfast at the hotel everyday, so I can’t stand it anymore. After this breakfast I feel really awake!

9.32 a.m. "Touch-down".

"The eagle has landed."

"I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there to sit on my throne as the prince of….."

O.K. Maybe I am overreacting a little, but I am just happy to be home.

10.49 a.m. Home sweet home.

Tired but satisfied.

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