After four flawless days of blue skies and plenty of sunshine, my luck with the weather suddenly changed. Cloudless skies from yesterday had been replaced with thick gray clouds and a dreary mist in the valleys. It never rained, but the morning was far from ideal.
Still, Tuscany is Tuscany and, even without the sunshine, is pretty special. The sunflower fields of summer have gone (with only a few stray flowers still hanging around), but the grape harvest has just ended and the leaves are starting to turn. This provided a nice splash of color against the green and gray of my day...
The tour I had selected included a visit to the tiny medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano. Surprisingly, the sun was just starting to clear out the clouds by the time we arrived...
After an hour wandering through the charming streets of a village that seems removed from time, we journeyed to a small winery for lunch. This is exactly the type of place you'd expect to see in Tuscany, and nobody was disappointed...
The last stop on the tour was a visit to the beautiful city of Sienna at the heart of Tuscany. It's large size makes it seem much like dozens of other Italian cities, but the sun had cleared away much of the gloom, leaving a beautiful afternoon at the Piazza Del Campo...
Not exactly what I was hoping for on a "Best of Tuscany Tour," but a nice outing nevertheless. I can see now the only way to really see the Tuscan countryside is to rent a car and wander the back-roads yourself. Maybe next time. Me? I was just happy to finally have some blue skies.
And on that happy note, feel free to leave Blogography and enjoy the rest of your day. HOWEVER, if you feel like listening to me bitch about why organized tours suck ass... then feel free to keep reading in an extended entry...
You've been warned.
Nothing would make me happier than to spend the entire day lost in the Tuscan countryside. But, since time was at a premium, I decided to take a tour instead. This alone should give you an idea of my desperation level, because I really, really dislike tours. Not because of the tour itself... I only book the best, so it's time well spent... but because of the idiots you have to tour with.
To minimize the dumbass quotient, I looked for the smallest group I could find. This tour had a maximum of 8 people so how bad could it be?
You already know the answer to that.
Here are the types of people who inevitably show up for tours and spoil the whole thing for everybody involved. These are the people who make me swear to never, ever take another tour again. These are the imbeciles that make me wish shooting dumbasses was a legal activity. These are the redneck Americans and Eurotrash that have me seriously thinking about abandoning my Buddhist studies so I can choke the ever-loving crap out of them with my bare hands...
- The "Sorry We're Late" Tourist Dumbasses: These are the people who are always late. ALWAYS. They are late to the initial meet-up, and wander in at 8:55 with their coffee and donuts while everybody else showed up at 8:30 on time. Their excuse? "We just had to stop for something to eat on the way. Sorry." And when making a stop, they're late to the rendezvous point again. Their excuse? "Oh, you were serious about that time limit? Sorry" (they always say "sorry" even though they obviously aren't). They're late from the bathroom breaks. They're late at lunch. They're late EVERYWHERE. And yet the people who are on time get punished for them being late when it really should be the other way around. If I ever end up running a tour company, your inconsiderate stupid ass is being left behind if you're late. Show up on time, or don't bother showing up at all.
- The "This is Terrible" Complainer Dumbasses: These are the people who are never happy. About anything. They complain constantly. They complain about the size of the van. They complain about their seats. They complain about the temperature in the van. They complain about the food. They complain about the weather. They complain about the shopping. They complain about EVERYTHING. If nothing makes you happy, then why f#@% it up for everybody else who is trying to enjoy themselves? Sit down and SHUT UP already.
- The "Smoke 'Em if Ya Got 'Em" Dumbasses: These are the people who don't give a crap about anything except when they will be able to smoke a cigarette. All you here out of them is "Can we smoke there?" and "Where can I smoke?" and "When do we get a smoke break?" and "I need a smoke!!" I have no problem with people who want to smoke... I really don't. But if your entire life is built around a f#@%ing cigarette, then just stay home and smoke your f#@%ing cancer sticks and leave the rest of us out of it.
- The "We Know Everything" Superiority Dumbasses: These are the people who think they know absolutely everything, but actually know nothing at all. They'll read a copy of Rick Steve's latest piece-of-shit travel guide, and think it makes them a frickin' genius on everything. They'll be forever interrupting the tour guide or adding little tidbits of useless information that nobody, NOBODY, wants to hear except themselves. What they fail to understand is that I DIDN'T PAY $150 TO LISTEN TO THEIR STUPID CRAP!!! Every time they open their mouths I want to scream SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UUUUHHHHHP!!! And then bitch-slap their stupid faces so hard that their momma feels it.
- The "We Question Everything" Dumbass Dumbasses: These are the people who ask stupid, STUPID, STUPID questions continuously throughout the entire tour, most of the time completely unrelated to absolutely anything. A simple stop for gelatto and we'll be subjected to a stream of moronic questions like... "What percent milk fat is in gelatto?" "Do they use pasteurized milk?" "How long does it take to make gelatto?" "How many different gelatto flavors are there?" "Do they use preservatives in the gelatto ingredients?" "What temperature is gelatto best served at?" "How long does it take gelatto to melt?" "If gelatto melts, can you re-freeze it?" "What's your favorite gelatto flavor?" "Who made the first gelatto?" "Why do they call it gelatto instead of ice cream?" "What is the chemical composition of gelatto?" "How many calories are in a scoop of gelatto?" "Is gelatto expensive to make?" "What is the radioactive half-life of a scoop of gelatto?" "Is gelatto in northern Italy different than in southern Italy?" "Can you recommend a gelatto machine so I can make gelatto back home" "Can gelatto be shipped back to the US?" "What are the socio-political ramifications of gelatto on the general populace?" "Can you provide a break-down of gelatto consumption in rich-versus-poor neighborhoods and then extrapolate upon the more specific aspects as to how gelatto influences the political currents of the country?" "Could somebody run for government office if they are known to dislike gelatto?" "How much gelatto is consumed by the average Italian and how can that information be distributed across a probability matrix, sorted by age, in order to predict upcoming gelatto flavor trends?" And so on. And so on. And so on... And so on... I put these freaks right below child-molesters and right above murderers on the "list of people so horrible that the only punishment should be death" list.
- The "We Don't Speak English and Don't Care" Dumbasses: These are the people who sign up for an English tour, but don't understand any English. And since they don't understand a word of what is being said, they will happily talk loudly and constantly while the tour guide is attempting to explain stuff, meaning that nobody can hear anything. It makes me seriously want to learn how to say "SHUT THE F#@% UP!" in all the world's languages, so I can tell these idiots what they can go do with themselves in their native tongue.
- The "Our Mobile Phone is Our Life" Dumbasses: These are the people who spend the entire tour either making or receiving calls on their mobile phone. Of course they have the most annoying ring-tone imaginable, and naturally it rings at the worst possible moment. I'd like to take their phone, shove it between their butt-cheeks, then kick it so far up their ass that they send out a text message every time they fart. These dick-heads are about as annoying as it gets, and makes you wonder why common courtesy seems to decline as technology progresses.
- The "We Videotape Everything" Dumbasses: These are the people who take a video camera along for the tour and record absolutely every detail. This utterly fascinates me, because what good is a vacation if you don't set the video camera down and enjoy the world around you while you're on it? I wonder how many of them actually bother to watch the tapes they record? Most of them whip the camera around so fast that I can't imagine that they capture anything worth watching in the first place. I know this shouldn't bother me, but I don't want to spend my tour dodging their idiotic amateur film documentary.
- Everybody Else: Let's just face it... everybody bugs me on these things. That's why I don't like taking organized tours in the first place.
Tomorrow it's off to Venice and NO TOURS!!