Monday, November 21, 2011

Europe Day 4 - Florence (September 25th)

These trip posts are taking forever. I am finally through about 3/4 of the photos, so my goal this week is to get at least a couple more blog posts done.


Today we made our way to Florence, Italy. Our hotel in Rome had internet access, so last night we looked to see what times trains were leaving for Florence and got directions from the train station to the hotel. To start off our day we loaded up our dreaded backpacks and made our way to Termini Station via the underground. The girl at our hotel suggested we buy our tickets from an actual person rather than a machine, so when we to the train station we got in the ticket line.

Getting the tickets seemed easy. We told him where we wanted to go and got two reasonably priced tickets for the 9:45am train. I think we had at least 30 minutes before the train left, plenty of time to figure out where we needed to go. Well, reading Italian train tickets is not our specialty and no one was very helpful in helping us figure out where we were supposed to be. First off the train we were riding was going all the way to Venice, but our stop was in Florence so no trains said they were going to Florence. That's only the beginning of our confusion. We finally determined which train was ours based on the departure time. So we get to the train, but forget to get it stamped. This means we have to go back to the beginning of the train deck to get it stamped before we get on the train. Based on our first train trip from the airport to the Termini Station we decided that the train had general seating. We just picked a car, took off our giant backpacks, stowed them above our seats and sat down. Just as we were talking about how nice it was, four American girls get on the train and let us know we are in their first class seats. Panic now sets in as we have no idea what car we are supposed to be on, nor which seats. Somehow we figured out which car we were on. And lucky for us there were some Americans on the car we got on and they showed us where our seat numbers were on our ticket. The entrance was jammed with rolling, luggage so we were happy to have our backpacks that we could easily carry to an inside luggage area. After we got settled on the train, the ride was actually very nice and relaxing.

We arrived in Florence around noon. As is the theme of our trip, we arrive in an unknown place in the heat of the day and are then forced carry our backpacks while we find our hotel. We found our hotel the N4U Guesthouse fairly easily, but then we had to carry our backpacks up three flights of stairs until we finally could put them down. Our room wasn't quite ready yet, so we put our bags in storage and went off to explore the town.


On our way to the hotel we saw Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore for the first time. Wow, what an amazing church. As you can see from the map of Florence above it is a very impressive part of the city.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

It was Sunday afternoon, so the town was very busy and crowded. We ended up eating lunch at a little place called Hot Pot. It wasn't very good, but we were starving and it was pretty cheap so it worked out.


After lunch we decided we wanted to find the Ponte Vecchio bridge. We went back to our "map" and from there decided which way the river was and headed that way. It didn't take us long and we were there.

Ponte Vecchio

The "houses" on the Ponte Vecchio are actually all jewelry stores. I am not sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn't jewelry.


After we or probably more likely I took a few photos, we headed back to the hotel to check into our room. The room was very nice, probably one of the nicer places we stayed. The private bathroom, however was not attached to the room so we had to walk down the hallway and use a key to both unlock and lock the bathroom door.

N4U Guesthouse

I think the constant going was starting to wear on us at this point, so we spent the afternoon taking a nap. And lucky for us this was the only time it rained the whole trip. Although, the rain probably would have been refreshing in the 80 degree heat most days.

After our nap, we decided we should go out and look for something to eat for dinner. The guy at the hotel suggested that we find a place across the river to find more authentic food, but we weren't really in the mood to look to hard so we ended up eating at Buca Niccolini near our hotel. Patrick got pizza and I got pasta with bolognese sauce. The food was ok, but dinner was kind of fun because a couple from Texas sat right next to us. They were really nice and made up for the mediocre food.

Dinner at Buca Niccolini

Dinner at Buca Niccolini

After dinner we decided we were just going to walk around and see Florence by night. Earlier in the day, Patrick had found a brochure at the hotel for a place called House of Sizzle. I don't think that we would have gone there, but the advertisement also had an NFL logo on it and it said they showed all NFL games there. It happened to be Sunday and the Packers happened to play the Bears at 10:30pm. We went to check it out before the game started. Really just an American college bar in Italy.

We decided we would go check out the Ponte Vecchio at night.

Ponte Vecchio at Night

Ponte Vecchio at Night

On the bridge a band was playing U2 songs. We listened to a couple songs and then headed back to House of Sizzle.

Ponte Vecchio at Night

Packer Game at House of Sizzle

We watched the first half of the game and then we headed back to the hotel since it was getting late. I never thought we would watch a Packer game in Florence, but it was actually pretty fun.

Even with our afternoon nap we still managed 23,341 steps or 11.7 miles for the day.

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