Florence Smells like Flowers

We need to talk about Florence. It is known as the city of flowers, but I never imagined that it would actually smell like them too. But, as I sat at the second floor of a hop on, hop off bus, I struggled to hide my heavy breathing, scared that someone would mistake my attempt to take in all the scents of having trouble with my lungs. It would really be too bad if they had shipped me to the hospital, although judging by the rest of the city, it might just have turned out to be the most beautiful hospital I’ve ever been to.

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Beauty

I like to believe that I’m somewhat interested in art. Somewhat. I did successfully spend hours at the national gallery in Oslo, Norway, and I do like to draw. However, when I was faced with Florence all I could do was to admit that art is fine for a little while, but eventually my mind will wander to places I have long forgotten by now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a great painting just as much as the next person would, but visiting the galleries inΒ  Florence, I got this feeling that most of the works went way over my head.

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The only one I recognized was The Birth of Venus…

In addition many of them were surprisingly, at least to me, violent and macabre, and it honestly doesn’t take much before I’ve had enough of that. Perhaps I’m just not sophisticated (or hipster) enough to really appreciate the Renaissance artists. I’m more into other types of art – dance, drama, and, if paintings are to be involved, I believe I prefer the Romanticism (think landscapes).

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I stumbled upon a rehersal for an opra, which made me realize that I really want to attend one.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It’s preserved so well that, when looking at it, it seems from another time. As many of the settlements are indeed ancient, this makes sense. The sidewalks are made for one person (forever alone), and there are palaces, cathedrals and gardens popping up everywhere. When I say the latter I mean the kind of gardens that have been around since the 16th century and that you can get lost in if you’re not careful.

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The palace at the beginning of the gardens was once home to the Medicis- an insanely rich family from the 14th to the 17th century.

What makes all of this even more amazing is that the city still seems oddly up to date. It has somehow managed to incorporate new structures and modern opinions with its heritage-listed buildings and timeless art. Truly a city worth spending time in.

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Nothing Else Matters

I have to tell you about last night. I went to an open piano concert. My plan was to just stop by and then return to the appartment my family is renting from a local. I felt kind of out of it after hearing the shocking and horrible news of what happened in Florida, so I wanted to just stay in and watch the rest of the game between Italy and Belgium, which was on at the same time. However, when I got there I realized that I would miss the rest of the match.

Twelve pianos. I have no idea why there was a concert, who the pianists were, or what any of the italian they were speaking meant. First they played Mozart (during which I leaned over asking “do you think they are playing something famous?”) and other classic pieces, but it was when they started on the medleys, when they gave me Nothing Else Matters and Coldplay songs, that I closed my eyes and just listened. I sat next to old people and hipsters, tourists and locals, and it didn’t matter. Loving music is something everyone understands.

As we were all united by our mutual love, one of the pianists took the word. He cleared his troat and I expected more italian. However, what came out was broken English and he said: “thank you all for coming tonight to *italian, italian*, I want us to take moment, the world needs more love and openness. I think of the tragedy in Florida and all horrible happenings now.”

So, to everyone, and especially you Americans and the LGBT community, I want to say that the world is thinking of you and that we’ll be strong – together.

Showering with Spiders

Spiders. Dysfunctional showers. Hundreds of ants. Warm days and cold nights. Welcome to The Village – The place where the volunteers eat, sleep and hang out.

I have been here for two weeks and have six left. Now I want to introduce you properly to the place.

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Come on in πŸ˜‰

You wake up in your hard, slightly cold bed. You look up into your mosquito net and close your eyes again: waiting. In an enclosure a few kilometers from here the lions roar. You hear them as if they were right outside your hut. You smile.

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No mosquitoes allowed!!

The alarms ring. It’s 6:30 am. Your three roomies awake. “Good morning” they say, squinting against the light from the window that the towel can’t quite cover.

Time to get up. You pull back the net and put your feet on the floor. Cooooold. The others begin to ruffle through their clothes. You do too and try to find the least dirty item. Not that one, it has baboon poo on it, not this one either, it smells, and that one was the one they ripped. Oh, this one is only completly full of sand, perfect!

You head out and to the bathroom. You choose the toilets furthest from you; they can be closed. Following the narrow path from your hut, you hear that the people in the other huts are waking up aswell. A new day.

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Shower anyone?

Afterwards there’s breakfast. Every meal is at the same place. When you’ve finished and go to The Farm – the place where the volunteers work, you’re already looking forward to lunch.

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A meal with a view πŸ™‚

After lunch some people chill by the pool. Others think it’s to warm and go to their huts. You can’t decide so you sit down amongst the sheep that have ventured from the Farm.

12166824_913071948759811_185673567_nBrb- nap time πŸ˜‰

Then it’s work again at 3 pm. You meet your friends by the only sink that has drinkable water.

Dinner. Cold drinks. Finally. You look toward the waterhole and see a couple of zebras. They’re back, you smile.

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This is Namibia.

Next someone readies the bonfire. Tonight is just another day, so there will not be any dancing around the fire singing words no one understands (yes, we actually do that.)

Then it’s time to go to bed again. You lay down and wish your roomies good night. And lions join in.

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Follow me into the savannah… ❀