Somewhat unexpectedly, I'm off for Florence, Italy on Sunday ...
Our Avatrait division had been invited to participate in the Festival della Creatività, a major European art fest (which is expecting nearly 2 million attendees), centered around the Fortezza da Basso (big red circle on the pic), and be part of the Rinascimento Virtuale show at Florence's Musuem of Natural History (small red circle) running through the end of the year.
Now, things have been (as I may have mentioned) pretty strapped at our company, and our Avatrait boss was just about to inform the organizers that we weren't going to be there (making up a story about being in a car crash or something in order to weasel out of it). This would have been an incredibly stupid move, as not only do we have six months of preparation invested in this, but it's the whole "reason" for the big full-color, hard-cover, "coffee table" book (featuring 47 of the Avatrait Gallery artists, a number of whom are traveling to Florence to be involved in the show) that's coming out this week ... not to mention the hit our credibility and "goodwill" in-world would have taken if we weren't there.
Yesterday morning, The Wife and I were talking about this and she said "why don't YOU just go and salvage as much as you can?", and said it would be OK for us to put it on a credit card ("at this point, what's another couple of thousand worth of debt?").
When I got in, I told my other boss this, and he gave me the OK, so I went fishing around the Internet to find a way to get there. Unfortunately, at this point, flights alone were running around $1,400 r/t, and I was beginning to worry that I'd have to fly into Rome, stay there, and take the commuter train (nearly 2 hours) back and forth. However, I totally stumbled over an awesome package deal via Tavelocity, air plus 4-nights hotel (in a 4-star hotel) for just a couple of hundred bucks more than the airfare alone. Heck, the "regular rate" for a single at this hotel is nearly $350.00, so we're saving around a thousand bucks! What's really excellent (aside from it being a 4-star hotel for what works out to be about $60/night) is that it's within a mile of both locations (the hotel is about where the little green circle is), so I can walk everywhere.
As it turns out, the Avatrait boss is ending up going as well (his trip funded by an in-world employee, to whom we already owe a lot of back wages, but who wasn't willing to see this whole thing go down in flames either), although I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to have to write (and give) "his speech" at the last minute.
Anybody know what the Florentine equivalent is to the McDonald's "Dollar Menu"? One of the many substantial downsides to this trip is that I don't have any sort of an "expense account", so everything is going to be out-of-pocket, and I have no clue how to go about eating cheap in Italy (at least the hotel has a free breakfast in the package)! What's the local good "fast food"? I'm thinking of stuff like the crepe carts in Paris, or the Pad Thai stalls in Thailand, or Tapas in Spain ... any clue what the Northern Italian equivalent would be?
Anyway ... I may have connectivity there (they're sending me with a laptop), so I might not be totally out of circulation here ... but that's my Big News of the day!