Recorded during my time in Malta, Hannu Ramo, starred in, filmed and produced this brilliant video
GUESTING AT - ANTONIOS BARBERSHOP, BIRKIRKARA, MALTA
2 months living in Sliema and working in Birkirkara Barbershop Antonios, one of the most respected barbers on the island
In the first of my blogs I talked about the people I had met in Tenerife and how some of these people would be likely to pop up again further down the lines, it was in fact one of those people, a brilliant guy by the name of Andrea Moro from Ancona, Italy who featured heavily in the next part of my travels.
When in Tenerife, Andrea tried on numerous occasions to teach me some Italian, usually ending up in hysteria at my shocking attempt to talk which generally came out as 'bibidi badidibubi' so when a gap in the schedule came up, Andreas invitation to meet me in Florence and then go back to his home city of Ancona seemed like the perfect opportunity to be thrown into the deep end and work out how to get by when in a location that doesn't speak much of your own native tongue. With the support of Andrea and his close group of friends I was about to begin the most challenging 3 weeks of my trip so far.
The first location was more of a sightseeing expedition and a couple of fun days in Florence, we drank lots of good wine, walked at least 30 miles a day around the whole city, enjoyed amazing food, met amazing people and found so much inspiration from the architecture, 'Lo amora Firenze'. The Michelangelo hang out was one of the most deepest feelings I've ever come across, I became truly inspired by the artistry in the place, at night there was a flute player playing real amazing music, take it all the architecture in the area gave me an even bigger drive to blast my creativity into music and in to my haircuts. I met this Korean guy in the hostel I stayed in, we got talking and he was very interesting! He had tried so many things with his hair but being Asian hair it's very dominant and straight, of course I had to help him, he looked great after and was feeling down on that night, well it was safe to say he was one of my happiest customers yet as he referred to me as the God of the barbers, I found this comical and at the same time a deep feel of appreciation. His confidence was so high the next day he was telling me how he plucked up the courage to finally go and try and find a girl. And was successful on the first day! Another tick in the satisfaction box! That's why I do my job. Who wouldn't want to do a job where you get too meet so many different people you never expect to meet and get to connect with them at the same time as aiming to please them and make them feel good about themselves!
The city is just like the backdrop in the game 'Assassins Creed' absolutely stunning place to visit if you get the opportunity.
We travelled to Ancona via train and into the unknown, I had no idea what to expect having only seen Ancona as a fishing port I really didn't know what to expect. I booked into the Hostel and prepared for a busy day meeting with various possible work options including a trial with Amoa, one of the top salons in Ancona. The evenings conversation with Andreas friends soon led to the realisation that incredibly there didn't appear to be much in the way of a true gents barber that they used. The language barrier is really tough here, alot of hand signals and muddling my way through it. The next day I went to visit www.amoa.it (a traditional hair salon rather than a barbers) and had a short trial they loved my work in quote 'perfecto' and arranged to meet back with them in a week to discuss a barbering position (which meant one week to learn the language).
The next few days was spent visiting the big group of friends in the fishing industry around there, learning Italian, eating amazing food and getting through a load of cuts ready for the big night out on Saturday. A full on test of the Italian I have learned in the short time I have been here and well, the night didn't disappoint.
After a brilliant start to my time in Italy, things started to go downhill. Although I had worked really hard on the language barrier, no matter how hard I tried to move things along I couldn't get any commitment from Amoa, weather was poor, the hostel I was staying in were generally rude and insistent on a 3 hours cleaning session every day despite me being one of the only paying guests there they insisted on me getting out of the hostel every day. I still had extreme difficulty in holding long and meaningful conversations due to the language barrier. 2 weeks had passed with me just cutting the group of friends I had and earning barely enough to live on. The Italians have a very different way of life to us in which haste or speed does not seem to play a part. Being on a limited budget I don't always have the time to wait around for someone to come back to me. I was getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of action. When you are travelling in this way there are long periods of loneliness which create self doubt. There were even times during this stay that I began to question why I was doing this at all.
My saviour incredibly was an Argentinean friend called Mauricio Ferrera, he travelled over 1000kms to meet up with me and get his hair cut, he is possibly the best guitarist I have ever jammed with. For the first time in over a year since the split of my band in the UK, I composed a new song and became reconnected with myself. I needed to get some final answers on the work front so contacted a few local establishments without luck including still no commitment from Amoa, I had spent nearly 3 weeks in Italy and not progressed. Time for a change, the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. I decided that I either needed to move on to somewhere else in Italy or try another country.
I booked a flight to Malta, thanked Andrea for the opportunity, did a mad rush of haircuts for the gang, said goodbye and then took the train to Bologna to begin the next phase of my journey. Would you believe, whilst on the train to Bologna I received a call from Amoa, a full time job offer to start on the Monday. However my mind was already made up. I needed to change my location and my luck.
My experience in Italy was a good one but made very difficult by the Language barrier and my own impatience. I needed a change, well that certainly happened in Malta !
Next time ... Malta