Bubba Buys Gold in Firenze

     Bubba managed to recover from his ordeal on the Italian cliffs and we all decided we’d better move inland.  In Bubba’s words:

            I took the train from Riomaggiore to La Spezia and from there to Florence or Firenze or whatever they want to call it here.  I checked into a small hotel called the City Hotel or Hotel City, or, again, whatever they wanted to call it.  I think they were a little confused themselves.

     Behind the rough exterior was a fabulous lobby that looked like it belonged in an opulent villa.

     They gave me the room key on a big ring so I wouldn’t lose it.  The size of the key ring made a different problem for me, though.

     I left my key with the front desk and set off to see what the city had to offer.  I stopped by the famous Duomo.  I wanted a picture of the dome from the outside so I climbed up the wall of the Campanile and took some pictures from there.   It was a long, treacherous climb, clinging to the mortar between the great marble stones, but finally I made it to the top.

     Well, that wasn’t really the top so I kept going until I finally got my shot.  I was the first being to ever scale the wall.

     He is not the first one to go to the top.  Anyone can do it by using the long, narrow staircase inside the building.  Bubba didn’t make the first step and had to be assisted the rest of the way.

     There is an anti Bubba fence designed to keep small figures from leaping into the crowds below.  While the mesh may not have been fine enough, he kept his feet firmly planted on his base.

            On the way down I said , “Hi” to some friend heads of mine.

 

 

 

     Wouldn’t they look nice on tiny yellow plastic bodies?         

     They tell me there are a bunch of museums and churches around but I wanted to go shopping on the famous Ponte Vecchio, where all the jewelers are located.  I thought I deserved some bling.  The bridge is lined with shops that leave tourists open mouthed and open walleted.  You can see these poor guys outside every store.  Here is a picture of one of them.

I strutted right in and pulled out my credit card and asked the clerk to show me some gold!  He was nice enough to lay it out in the tray for me to examine closely.

            Even those small pieces proved to be a little too heavy for me to handle so I settled for a hat from one of the street stalls instead.  The man who sold it to me said it looks just right but I think it is a little too big.  What do you think?

Next, I will go to the city of Pisa.  The city fathers have asked me to stop by and try to fix a big tower there with a bad foundation.  I may drive my motorcycle; I hear the Harley Owners Group will be there.

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Reminder

Bubba complained that he was hard to see in some of the pictures and wanted me to remind you that you can click on the picture to get a larger size.  So clicking on the rescue sign brings that up so you can read it and clicking on the view of the port where Bubba recuperated on the rocks shows you the two young ladies who restored him to good health.

Hiking On the Italian Coast, Bubba Calls For a Rescue

     The train trip from France to Italy went without a hitch…well there was a train that failed to arrive but another was only an hour or so later.  A border crossing, a few stops and a couple of changes of train later we were in Riomaggiore, one of the towns in the Cinque Terre region.  These are five small villages that were originally fishing ports and terraced vineyards and are now largely tourist destinations.  The villages cling to the Mediterranean cliff sides with footpaths and trains connecting them to each other.  There is a sense of separation from the cares of the rest of the world.  Staying in one of the villages gives you an uncrowded view after the day tourists leave.

I’ll let Bubba tell his own story from here.

            We arrived at Riomaggiore after a long and perilous train journey. I located the office where we would pick up the keys to our room that was at the top of the long steep street.  Everything, including check in, stopped for lunch and I had a short wait determined by the local clock, which operates in a casual manner.

      Our room was on the top floor of a small building further up the street.  It included a terrace on the roof and a small kitchen.  We were across from a small church and during the day and evening, the bells would ring from that and another church in town in a solemn competition.  That afternoon, I explored the village with help from Rick and Spider (I don’t do stairs).

            The five villages are linked by scenic footpaths that range from very easy to moderately challenging.  The ones we choose were not difficult for anyone whose legs are longer than a quarter of an inch.  Bubba writes . . .

            The first part of the journey is pretty easy.  The path is called the Via dell’Amore and has been made very tourist friendly.  It is mostly a concrete path that hugs the cliff next to the sea.

 

It is a tradition for lovers to leave a lock to signify everlasting affection.  I left a purple one for someone, someday.

The paths give some tremendous views of the villages but deteriorate somewhat as you go along.  It is uneven, rocky and has steep cliff faces on one side.  I again donned the climbing garb and scaled the steep paths, following the experienced mountaineer ahead of me.

Soon I was parched, and exhausted.  Strange sounds of large carnivorous beasts filled the air and I was certain that death awaited me on a remote Italian cliffside.  I became disoriented and tried to signal a passing rescue chopper, like the emergency signs suggested but, for some strange reason, they didn’t see me.

Luckily a rescue party that set off from one of the villages located me and brought me back to safety.  These were experienced, professional rescue workers with decades of rescues to their credit.

I have to interrupt to bring Bubba back to reality.  His friends in the picture are a group of scouts just saying, “Boungiorno”.  No rescue was necessary.  Bubba ran out of gas and had to be carried when we reached Vernazza because he didn’t want to climb down to village level again.  Luckily, Bubba’s added weight did not mean leaving anything behind. 

Bubba resumes his story…

            While the others continued on with their trek I recuperated and was treated for my injuries by highly trained and professional staff.  I’m on the rock at the bottom of the picture.  Can you see me?

I met back up with everyone at the room while enjoying a cup of coffee on the terrace.  I like the coffee here as it comes in my size cups. 

Although we stayed on in the area for a few days, Bubba was so exhausted from his experience that he just stayed in the room.  Bubba will write again from Florence.

Film Stars In Cannes and Off To Italy

Bubba once again takes foot to keyboard to narrate the story of his travels in southern France.  As usual I will correct him if he strays too far off course.

            Before I set off to Italy I decided to go for a bit of luxury and visit Cannes for the film festival.   Cannes is the playground of the film stars of the world.  They have some world class hotels that have attracted visitors from royalty on down for a century or so.  These are the most ultra luxurious digs on the planet and I wasn’t allowed to set foot in any of them. 

Instead my hotel was back in Nice.  It was located on the top floor in the back of an apartment building.  My room in Nice left a little to be desired.  The people who ran the hotel were wonderful; it was just the facility itself that suffered a bit. 

 

Aside from the fact that someone in the building needed to cook stanky stuff at midnight every night, the bathroom was the major flaw.  It was even small for me and was located just a couple of feet and a louvered door from the bed.  Anyone sitting on the bed would share the experience of anyone sitting in the bathroom.  When the toilet backed up, that was it.  I grabbed the plunger and set to work.

But my day was to be spent in Cannes.  I arrived in my vintage chauffer driven Mercedes…

…sipping on my adult beverage.

No Limo, no Mercedes, Bubba came by train with the rest of us.

            I spent the day hanging out with movie stars and walking the red carpet to the famous Cannes Film Festival.

Well, Bubba was in the city, there was a Festival, but it was a little different from the Film Festival.

With all the excitement and all the stars, I had to stop for a glass or four of wine.  I don’t know if it was me or the wine but one of us got a little tipsy.

I then boarded my yacht and sailed back to Nice.

Nope!  He took the train again.  The next day all three of us boarded a train and left France for Italy.  Going from the luxurious Cote d’Azur in France to Italy was a culture shock even though they are only separated by a few miles.  Italy is easier on the wallet, and a lot more laid back.  For example, here is a picture of the train station in Monte Carlo.  All shiny chrome and polished marble.

And just a few miles away is the first stop in Italy, the Ventimiglia station.

Bubba Ruins Romans

            Bubba returns to the medieval city of Avignon, France and visits the surrounding area.  He insists that he is now Master of the Keyboard and wants to write his own story. 

            Located in Avignon is a relic of tremendous importance among my plastic people.  The debate among historians, archeologists, and injection molding professionals as to which came first, the head or the body, continues, but there is no doubt that this is the first attempt at a detachable, interchangeable head.  It did not catch on right away.  In those days they did not have plastic so they used stone.  It proved to be a little heavy and would crush most bodies it was applied to.  I was very excited to finally meet my ancestor from 1223 A.D.

            In the nearby town of Nimes, we visited a Roman Arena that still stands in the center of the city.  I got my climbing gear on again and headed straight for the top.  It was a long way to the base so I hitched a ride with some guy and his shopping cart.

That thing is huge.  It is something like 500 body lengths high.  Well 500 of my body lengths high at least.  The top is bare, crumbling rock and that was laid down centuries ago.  The uneven edge and great height is very frightening.  I made it to the top and beat a hasty retreat.

            From there we went to Arles.  There was another arena there.  This one is being used for a “kinder” kind of bull fighting where the bulls chase the people around the arena.  The runners try to grab flags that are tied on the bull’s back.  This is a kind of suicidal flag football.  The bull does his best to skewer the runner and the game is on.  This is a YouTube video that pretty much says it all.  http://youtu.be/A0-51FFszbo  They tell me it is more humane because the bull is spared but I don’t know that harassing him is much better but he does have a chance to get a poke in now and then.  There is a small footrest thing along the inner arena wall that the runners can use to help leap the wall and escape the horns.  I gave it a shot and Rick caught me when I launched into the stands. 

There is also a somewhat restored Roman theater in Arles.  This area of France was a solid part of the Roman Empire and even part of Italy from time to time in history.  There are still quite a few Roman ruins in the area left for tourists, researchers, and small yellow skinned figures to explore.  The theater has some of the original stage and seating area.  The acoustics are good enough for even a tiny voice to be heard.

I took my place on the stage and addressed the huge crowd that had gathered.  I began my speech with, “Friends, Romans, Plastic men, lend me you ears, I don’t have any.”

The province area of France is known for many things including the fine dining to be had there.  Fresh seafood dishes are plentiful and rich Provincial sauces and seasonings are world famous.  Since we would be leaving France shortly, I decided that I must sample the famous French food and partake of a dish that is so identified with France that “French” is in its name.

Bubba Races At Monaco

Bubba will start this narrative of his time on the French Riviera, including his run in the Monaco Grand Prix.  Because of circumstances beyond his control, I will be finishing the story for him.

            Along with plenty of historical sites, the south of France is known for its beautiful beaches. 

I spent a few days in Nice, a lovely town with easy train access to Monaco and Cannes.  The waters of the Mediterranean Sea are truly a deeper blue than anywhere else.   The beach there was lovely with plenty of nice people.  I thought I would catch a few rays and work on my tan.

I’m not sure why but the young man with the lady in the background took exception to my staring, yelling and pointing, and buried me in the sand.

The next day we went to Monaco where I was to drive in the Grand Prix.  I arrived at the club in my private yacht and went to my roof top home. 

            Monaco is a land of the very, very rich and famous.  Everything is of the highest quality and, as you can see in this picture of the Casino reflected in a bit of sculpture, even the palm trees are dressed in glittery gowns.

            I walked to the Casino and entered with my best James Bond swagger.  Before they threw me out, I managed to use this fancy, marble self cleaning gambling machine.

I had entered the Grand Prix and qualified in the pole position.  My pit crew gave my car the once over to make sure everything was pressed tight and I was ready to race.

The race started and I forged out ahead keeping the other cars behind me through the curves.  I quickly opened up a one lap lead and in this picture you can see me, a screaming blur, going through the tunnel. 

Here is where I have to step in and correct some of Bubba’s thoughts.  This whole blog may be a stretching of the truth at times but I have to point out that while they were located in Monaco, the ship was not his, the rooftop residence was not his, and Bubba did not win the Monaco Grand Prix.  In fact, you don’t see him in the tunnel because his race ended abruptly when his tire came off and hit the cameraman.

Bubba’s Canadian Caper

Bubba took a trip to Vancouver and wanted to insert his thoughts at this point.  He will go back to talking about his European vacation later in the week.

            I was real excited when the mail came and there was an invitation to attend the wedding of two of my best friends, Ryan and Kari.  The wedding was being held in Canada and they mentioned something about a sporting event being held in the city at the same time.  I got excited and started practicing.

I knew if I could hold this pose for eight seconds, I could be a winner.  Unfortunately, I found out the wedding was NOT in Calgary, the event was NOT the Calgary Stampede, and the bull was NOT impressed.

You can see me up there, I’m still hanging on!!

            Instead the wedding was in Vancouver and the event was the fifth game in the battle for the Stanley Cup.  Hockey fans had taken over the city and my inanimate Canadian friends all sported blue jerseys.

I looked in every store but was unable to find a shirt in my XXXXXSM size.  I decided to steal the idea given to me by some of the fans walking around and I dyed my hair blue.

I was able to pick up a hockey stick my size and, with stick in hand, I was ready for the game.

            I didn’t have a ticket but the city set up huge screens outside Rogers Arena for the thousands of people filling the streets.  The crowd was in a great mood and they were partying in high style.  Someone offered me a beer from the local Whistler Brewing Company and I made a slight error by asking for a Sam Adams Boston Lager instead.  I’m not sure what was wrong with that but I had to leave, right away.

The next day brought a lovely wedding for my friends.  I went to the reception but I forgot to bring a present.  I picked the biggest one there and put a “From Bubba” Post-It note on the box.  I then pushed it back into the pile.

I signed the guest book.

Checked out the wedding cake.

I treated myself to a few glasses of wine.

There were paparazzi snapping pictures and I’m sure one of them will make all the tabloids soon.

I maybe had just a little too much wine and my friend Anthony offered to give me a lift home. 

But before I left, I did catch the bouquet!!

            Bubba would like to thank Heather and Bill for putting on a great wedding and reception, Anthony and Kim for helping him out, and Ryan and Kari for being Ryan and Kari.