Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring in Firenze

Last week was a scramble to get all of my trips planned. With all of the traveling in March there wasn't time for me to do much else besides go to school. I finally have all of April booked, and it feels good to know where i'm going each weekend instead of trying to wing it. I have definitely learned that I am not a person that can fly by the seat of my pants when traveling. I just get stressed. Anyways, so here's whats on the docket for April. 
-Prague & Budapest 

Before I know it, May will be here and I will be on my way back to Salt Lake. I know I keep saying it, but time has been going unbelievably fast here. I will be home in a little over a month! Both happy and sad feelings surrounding that subject. 

So speaking of winging it, this was one of the wing it weekends. After what felt like just barely getting home from Spain I really had to push myself to go somewhere last weekend. I looked up several train tickets and was looking at going to Pisa but when the option was to pay 10 more euros and go to Florence I chose Florence. I did another solo overnight trip, which I have found that I really don't mind. It's really nice to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want without having to convince someone else to want to do it with you. 

I had an early 6 am train, and spent most of the ride down researching the places that I wanted to see. About 10 minutes before the train reached the station, I pulled out my hostel information just to make sure that I knew where I was going. I had been between two hostels the night before and was asking a friend which one she thought would be in a better part of town, but it looks like in my frantic "winging it" state I booked the opposite one from the one that I meant to book. Overall they were both good hostels and it wasn't a big deal that I booked the wrong one. Just a bit more difficult to find it without looking at the directions beforehand. I followed the vague directions that were given in the confirmation email and then proceeded to walk around for about an hour and half before I found the right bus station and confirmed that I was going the correct way. Not exactly how I had envisioned my first couple of hours in Florence.

My first experience in Florence was frustration. I now know, firsthand, how disorienting Florence can be. Oh and did I mention that it was raining? That always puts a damper on things. After finally finding my hostel which was an old convent that had been turned into a hostel I made my way down to the city center. 

Lunch from the Market. Roast beef & Mystery Soup.
Perfect lunch on a rainy day.

I wandered through the main tourist sights and finally made my way to Palazzo Vecchio, a castle that used to be home of the Medici. At that point I didn't even care what museum I was seeing I just wanted to get out of the rain and warm up a bit. I'll even admit that I did use the hand dryers in the bathroom to dry out my socks because my feet were so wet. It seems that no matter what I do I can never dress appropriately for the weather. Rome when it's sunny in rain-boots, not a good idea. Florence when it's pouring in rain-boots, probably a good idea. Anyways.. the museum was nice and the best part was that while I was inside the rain cleared up and the sun started to peak through. I was re-energized and ready to walk the streets some more. 

View of the Medici's private bridge, now lined with
gold and silver jewelry shops.
I really loved this ring, unfortunately I couldn't afford the
couple thousand euro price tag attached.

I ended up at Piazzale Michaelangelo. It has STUNNING views of the city and this is truly where I really started to love Florence. I hung around the Piazzale for an hour or so just enjoying the view and taking it easy (the early morning train was starting to set in). I took the long way back to the hostel and on my way grabbed a gelato. Florence definitely does gelato better than Milan. #1 It's cheaper #2 they have about 100 different flavors i'd never even heard of. I tried the cream of pine. Sounds interesting right? It was a cream flavored gelato with pine nuts! It was a little taste of home after all of the pine nuts we had from my dad basically harvesting the whole forest last fall at the cabin.

"Pine nut" gelato

 I was nervous I was going to get stuck with another snorer in the hostel room again, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle it after 4 full days of it the week before. Luckily, when I checked into my room there were only 2 other girls, both studying from England. They confirmed that they didn't snore, and I was very relieved that I would be able to get a good nights rest. Yippee! They were both very nice and gave me good advice of all of the places to go shopping.  

Some cool street art on the way back to the hostel.
The lovely 7 Santi, hostel.
The next morning I checked out of the hostel and made the 25 minute walk into town which was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful weather. It was a night and day difference from the day before. The city has such a great atmosphere in the streets it's SO relaxed and friendly. I walked pass the Galleria Accademia and the line was long enough that I wasn't going to spend the beautiful day standing in a Museum line (i'm going back in May so I wasn't too worried). The rest of the day I spent browsing through the Leather markets and the food market. I had a traditional Florentine sandwich, Bollito, which I still couldn't tell you what kind of meat it was. Florentine's are so friendly and they all want to talk to you (and sell you stuff). I had some funny random conversations all ending with, "can we get a cappuccino together later?". Must be the Florence catchphrase because they ALL said it. 

Line for the Accademia on Saturday
Scooty! Can't wait to ride when I get home!
Cute pup taking a nap in the sun
Nerbone, located inside of the Market, where I ate both days
My numerous shopping bags that became
quite heavy by the end of the day

 I caught the train home after running to get to the train station on time after spending a little bit too much time in the markets. This is not the first time either. It's been a good way to get my cardio in.

The train ride home was pretty interesting. It seemed that everyone knew each other on the train they were all laughing and joking with each other. Only half of the people were actually sitting in their seats and the rest of the people were milling around doing whatever they pleased. A group of 3 guys kept passing by and were talking and taking pictures with the lady across from me. They were a goofy bunch, an older man probably in his late 60's and then 2 younger guys who were dressed up in track suits. One of the guys ended up asking me if he could take a picture with me and then explained that they were triathlon competitors and they were coming up for the Milano Marathon. He told me all about how he is going to go do the Ironman in Hawaii, and had I ever been there, and wow you're from Utah, I like your eyes, and on & on. He then asked me how old I was and then tried to translate to English how old he was and finally says 23. The woman across from him corrects him and tells me he is 32. Haha. He says it still okay for us to date and the age difference is normal here in Italy. It is pretty difficult to distinguish how old Italians are, they all seem so young. They age extremely well even after all of their cigarettes and late night partying.

My new friend Luigi from the train

After being on such a high from Spain, Florence made me fall back in love with Italy and all of it's little quirks. It's always so much easier to leave a place when you know you are going back. Can't wait to revisit in May! 

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