Back from Tuscany

Buon giorno! I spent the past week in Tuscany, based in a villa just outside the town of Siena. As Siena is centrally located, we made day trips to various towns, villages and fortresses, ate local foods and drank local wine. That is the life! Carpe diem.
If I have time I will give more detailed descriptions. I took probably a thousand photographs and videos on various people’s cameras including my own. I will spend some time processing them and putting captions on the more interesting ones, so you know where we were.
The most important thing was that the wedding went well, and I was told our singing was great. We managed to coordinate our singing with the Italian harpist and violinist. It was beautiful hearing hymns like ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Be Thou My Vision’ played on strings, with the acoustics of a small cathedral. I wrote the score for the harpist for a contemporary Christian song, ‘Still’. It was amazing hearing what I wrote being played on a real harp for an important ceremony!
Unfortunately, right after the church ceremony, I lent my Canon Ixus camera to another photographer while I helped out with other duties. The camera was later placed in a basket containing the teapot and cups from the Chinese tea ceremony which had just taken place. By accident, the teapot’s contents were emptied onto my camera and it was completely submerged in a large bowl of tea. It all happened very quickly. I know it’s not a fair comparison but it was like seeing your kid floating face down and motionless in a swimming pool.
I was pretty upset initially though nobody was 100% to blame. I was firstly concerned about losing all the valuable photos and videos I had taken during the wedding, especially as I was one of the designated (amateur) photographers. But praise God, my SD card, though drenched, was still working! The same could not be said for my poor little camera. After being left to dry for a day or two, it sputtered, gave me false hopes, and finally died. It extended its lens out and gave its final gasp. Whitish condensation built up underneath the lens and it looked like its single eye was staring, wide open, at me.
The next couple of days were spent looking at great photo opportunities and not taking photos :-/ and watching the happy Irish groom do some robo-moves on the dance floor, knowing I couldn’t video him in action. For the remaining day trips, my friends kindly loaned me their cameras. However, I exhausted two cameras’ batteries and had to rely on my HTC Touch’s 2 megapixel camera!
Hopefully when everyone’s back we’ll get to pool our photos. More importantly, we had a great time together and made new friends. Next time we travel I’m seriously considering getting buying a GPS system and buying the maps of the places we’re going to. It is not funny getting lost in the Tuscan countryside late at night with no street lighting and the occasional local cars speeding past you.
It’s the first trip I’ve made with friends, and the first time I’ve roughed it out a bit more in Europe. The villa was lovely but you’ve got to make your own bed, look for your own breakfast, light your own matchsticks at the stove, boil water in a pot (no kettle), and toast bread on a pan (if your kitchen had no toaster or if it was broken down). The hot water can take a while to arrive through the piping. No hair dryers are provided. You also have to take out your trash, and if you’ve used up your roll of toilet paper, that’s it. If you want to wash your dishes, you have to buy your own sponge and soap. We went to the supermarket to stock up on all sorts of things.
Also, don’t count on getting an Internet connection in the countryside. Don’t even hope for wireless. I didn’t need to check emails, and didn’t want to. I caught up on news on the way back. I saw the Rugby World Cup results in the Roma airport on the way back, reading off an Italian newspaper rack. It was good getting away from things. Now I have over 200 personal emails to clear, and tomorrow I’m back at work. Eep.