What a day!

Florence Travel Blog

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After a mind-bogglingly difficult time in getting to Italy, what with a missed flight to Venice, rush to Heathrow and overall stress of whether or not this was a sign from God not to get on the airplane in the first place, I finally arrive in Florence, Italy at around 11:00. Being brainless and used to the Calgary Airport, I completely walk by the luggage carousel and leave my entire-life-in-a-pack on the other side of security. Shit. Why is there no one working in this airport? No security personnel, no airline people, no information or even locals. The only people in the airport are two Japanese tourists sleeping by the closed departure gate and a very elderly woman who doesn't speak a lick of English. Panicking and not wanting to get tackled by security (if there is anyone to tackle me) by forcing my way back through, I get overwhelmed and start tearing up. Luckily at this point the flight attendants are getting off - all of whom speak English! They help me back through to claim my bags and all is well again. Except where is the bus that's supposed to be here at 11:30? I end up waiting for a good half hour, but with a completely deserted airport, I start getting nervous as to whether I interpreted the confusing instructions to get to my hostel. Giving in, I end up grabbing a taxi (not too bad, around 25 euros). 15 minutes, no signalling and 50 scooters later, we finally see the sign to HI Villa Camerata. The drive is not done yet - there's still a very dark, very primitive, very eerie mile stretch of road before opening up to the hostel. Though it doesn't look like much at night, this place is amazing. Built back in the 1300's, pre-discovery of North America, this used to be a family mansion. Equipped with a full-on courtyard, "marble" pillars, gorgeous carvings on all the walls inside and 40 foot ceilings , you can get a sense of the grandeur that once was. The man at check-in (more English!) walks me to my parents room where Dawn is sound asleep but luckily my Dad is still up - wondering why I'm 5 hours late at that. First night of true lone backpacking has brought me stress, laughter and a good sharp learning curve - either way I'm happy to crash into the top bunk knowing I'm surrounded by faces I love and know. 8:30 am and it's already time for breakfast, lest we miss it, which consists of slices of white bread, cereal with warm homo milk, oj and americanos. Pretty nasty overall but can't complain too much about a free breakfast. The air is thick with humidity as the three of us start the walk back toward town, though in the morning light the road looks far less menacing then the previous night. There are some inviting vineyards and massive houses settles into the hill to our right. Next, hop onto a crammed bus and make it downtown for a quick 90 cent espresso (or two) before heading to the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. This ornate cathedral sits on top of three previous churches and has been around since the 1200's. It's far more decorated on the outside than the inside but the gold cross perched on the enourmous dome can be seen throughout Florence. We continue our walk, passing through tiny streets lined with ancient buildings. Truly not much could have changed in the few hundred years here. Next stop Museo de Bargello which features weaponry, art and miscellaneous antiques. Our trek continues through hours of neat little streets, outdoor piazzas embellished with sculptures everywhere, bridges galore and of course a few more cathedrals. Though my family is not particularly religious, we are as a general rule cheap while travelling and even partake in prayer. This is not however to better our person, it's mostly to avoid the 3 euro tourist fee which you can bypass with a few quick hail Mary's. We'll end up in purgatory, I'm sure - along with the "gentleman" I saw pissing in a garbage can on the street. The evening winds up quickly and we head back to the hostel (me in my new 15 euro Italian suede boots) to enjoy some good solid computer time, microwave pasta and the worst bottle of red I've ever had. Early bed & ready for it all again tomorrow!
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photo by: spocklogic