Part 1 of a 3 on my Fall Break, Italy

Florence Travel Blog

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The church in Florence

            We are now in Italy. It took us a while to get here, but we make it. It started out on Friday. We had train tickets from Strasbourg to Baden where we would catch our flight to Pisa. We waited on the platform for our train for 40 minutes, only to find out that all the trains that go through Baden had been canceled. So there were about a billion people waiting outside the train station for the busses that were supposed to take us there. We could not make it onto any of the first two busses. We were the only ones left waiting and they told us there was another bus coming.

The Medici Palace

            We waited 10 minutes for the bus, but we did not think it was going to come because the man in the blue uniform who was in charge was gone. So we got a refund on out tickets and took a taxi to Baden. It took us 20 minutes to get that refund and a bus never came in that entire amount of time. Luckily with the 4 of us in the taxi we only paid about $4 more than for our train ticket. It was very comfortable BMW. Us 3 girls rode in the back and talked about these guys we met at the bar, celebrities, and gossiped about people. We were laughing the whole time, and poor Paul was sitting in the front seat and the taxi driver was teasing him about having to travel with “giggling females.” It was very funny and we started “giggling” all over again. We made it to the airport with about 40 minutes to spare.

Colosseum
We left Strasbourg almost 3 hours behind schedule.

            The flight was very nice. I had heard that the Ryan Air planes were very cramped because it is such a cheap flight. It was not at all cramped for me. I had plenty of room to cross my legs. The seats might have been a bit narrower, but my butt still fit fine, so I had no complaints. Actually, the only complaint I had was that there were no complementary drinks. You had to pay for everything. I was very thirsty the whole time. However, they did get us into Pisa 30 minutes ahead of schedule. From Pisa we had to take a train to Florence.

The Trevi Fountain...Make a Wish
It was about an hour. We got into the city around 9pm.

            We got to our hostel and found that it was quite disgusting. The whole room smelled like urine. I won’t go into more detail, but just remember what I told you about the horrible hostel in Burgundy. This was very similar.

            We went out to dinner, which was really good because I was starving. We found the first decent looking place and ate. I had regular spaghetti. It was very good, it made my day. After dinner we walked around the big Cathedral. It is so amazing to think that I have actually been here before.

The Spanish Steps
I got lost in this city before.

            3 other people in our group besides me decided they did not like the hostel either so we decided to walk around and just check out some prices on hotels. The hostel we found out was only 1 star. I would have given it less than that. I decided that if we found a place that was a reasonable price I would stay with them. We walked around for about an hour, just 4 of us, the other 2 stayed at the hostel, trying to find something decent.

            The other 3 I was with are all Korean. I was the minority of our group. This was funny because we went into one hotel, and I think the receptionist was new and did not speak very good English, and we could not speak any Italian.

St. Peter's Basilica
He was on the phone with who I assume was his manager and he was saying that he had some “Japanese” people. Paul is very sensitive about his nationality. He is Korean and don’t call him anything else. The others were both adopted and so they don’t really care that much about their Korean background. We all got a pretty good laugh out of it though especially because of me. I don’t look Asian at all. It was fun to be included though. We all ways make jokes about it because our normal group is 3 Koreans and 2 white girls. You probably have to be there to get our jokes.

            Anyway, this place did not have a room for us. So we moved on. We did find this really great one. The price divided by the 4 of us was the same as we were paying for the hostel, so we got our money back from the hostel and took the hotel. It is so nice. You will get pictures of it. It has a King size bed that I shared with Amy, and two pull out twin beds that Shalyn and Paul took. Those beds fold up into really comfortable sitting chairs. I can’t really describe the room adequately, so you will have to rely on the pictures I will eventually send. Breakfast was included here too. It was very nice, but I would kill for a waffle, French toast, or pancakes. We slept very well that night.

            Saturday was a very long day, but we had a lot of fun. I think we hit 5 museums. Our first stop was the Academia where the David is. The David is amazing. It literally took my breath away. It is huge. I can’t believe the skill that it must have taken to create this. You could see all his muscles and even the veins in his hands. I just can’t imagine the time and skill and energy that this took. It was absolutely amazing. We spent about an hour there looking at the David and the other works of art.

            Then we went to the San Marco. It is an old monastery filled with Frescos done by the monks. Amy’s favorite Fresco is there. It is of the Angel Gabriel giving Mary the news that she is going to be the mother of Christ. Amy is an Art History major and so at all the museums I tried to stick close to her because she would spurt off interesting facts about many of the paintings.

            After San Marco we went and got Gelato. It is as good as I remember it. It is the best ice cream in the world. The United States has good ice cream, but compared to Italy and the rest of Europe, our ice cream sucks. For my Gelato I had melon, which I remembered as being very good, and a scoop of coconut. It is my new favorite. I love coconut. The ice cream was great because with every lick you got a mouthful of coconut shavings. I can’t believe how good it was. I may not ever have another flavor; I will just be sticking with coconut.

            After ice cream we went to the St. Lorenzo Basilica. We toured around in there, but it is not that much different than all the other churches in Europe. Then we went to the St. Lorenzo Chapel where the Medici Brother’s have their tombs. Michelangelo crafted their tombs. The Medici brothers were the richest and most influential men in Italy for a time. Michelangelo was a very good friend of the brothers.

            Next we went to the Uffizi. It is the most popular and famous museum in Florence. We stood in line there for about 40 minutes, but it was well worth it. We met a man in line ahead of us; he is from upstate New York, close to Syracuse. He is in his early 50’s and is traveling alone for the first time. It is fun to meet random people. The way we met him was we could just tell that he was listening into our conversations. So Jeanine said hi to him and we struck up a conversation.

            Before coming to Europe I did not really have any interest in paintings and art. Since coming here I have learned to like it, though I think 5 places in one afternoon, all filled with art, is a little too much for me. I had a good time though. I was just glad that I got to go in all of them. The first time I came here all the museum workers were on strike and I did not get to go into any of the museums.

            After we finished with all the museums we went back to the hotel to rest our feet for a little while. It was about 5pm. At 7:30 we all went out to dinner. We found a nice restaurant. The food was good, but the waiter was a snob. After dinner, about 10pm we just went back to the hotel and checked the internet. It was then that we found out that the Ryan Air Spanish baggage handlers were going to be on strike. We would not be able to check out luggage. We can not exactly go without our luggage. So we found out that for this particular circumstance we were able to get a full refund. We booked another flight that turned out to be a bit more expensive but not by that much. On our original flight we would have had to pay for the train ride from Florence to Pisa, and then the flight, and then the train and bus ride from Gerona to Barcelona, and that was supposed to take another 3 hours. With this new flight we fly directly from Florence to Barcelona. It is so great that everything has been working out for us. Things have been going wrong and then turning out splendidly. For the rest of the night we just watched some CNN while 3 people took their turns showering. Then we went right to sleep.

            Now it is Sunday evening. Today we had a really great day. Paul, Amy, Shalyn and I decided that because we are only a little bit into the trip and the other 2 people are already on our nerves, we would take a day trip out of Florence. This worked for me because even though Florence has amazing art, it is very dirty and not my favorite city. I did not like it much the first time, but then the museums we on strike and I could not do anything. So for our day trip we took the train to Rome. It was amazing. I absolutely love Rome. We met up with our friend Kelly (the 5th member of our group, and the other “white girl”) and her boyfriend. He came from home to spend fall break with her.

            We met just after noon at Vatican City. We were really bummed though because at noon the Pope gave a speech and it just finished as we arrived. I would have loved to see that. Kelly got to watch. I wish I could have made it. We went into St. Peters Basilica, and a procession started. These women in purple nun-like robes and white lace veils carried flags and banners and were followed by men in purple robes carrying an elaborate alter piece. One side of the piece showed a picture of Jesus on the cross, and the other side was of Mary. It was surrounded by flowers. Following them were more of those men and then a band of some sort. They walked around St. Peter’s Square and then proceeded down the center isle of the Basilica. They stopped at the big alter with an awning. The band continued to play for a while and a choir started to sing. I am still not exactly sure what exactly was going on. There was such a long pause after the singing stopped that we left. I think there might have been a mass or something like that.

            We did wander around the Basilica for a while and I took many pictures for you all too eventually see. Next we went to the Colosseum. It is as amazing as I remember it being. It was bright and beautiful outside, and it make the Colosseum that much more impressive. I forgot to mention that the reason that we did not go see the Sistine Chapel was because it is closed on Sundays. I was upset because I loved it last time and would love to see it again. Anyway, we did not go inside the Colosseum. This was fine with me because I have done it before, as has Paul and Amy. Shalyn did not really want to, and Kelly and Sean are going to be here all day tomorrow so they will go back then.

            After that we went and got lunch. I really love pasta. I tried a new one this time. It was Fettuccini noodles with a different kind of sauce and ricotta cheese, and bacon. It was really good. After lunch we went to the Trevi Fountain. It is said that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand into the fountain and make a wish you will come back someday. It worked for me. I did it 5 years ago and now I have returned, though I must admit my wish has not come true, I can’t tell you what it is though because I wished for it again. We shall see if it works this time. We sat around at the fountain for a little while and then got some Gelato. Man I love that stuff. I am hoping that I will have a chance to get one more before I leave. Next we moved on to the Pathenon. This is where Raphael is buried. It was not the most exciting of monuments, but it is well worth a look. . We only spent a few minutes there then we moved onto the Spanish steps.

            The steps were really crowded so we did not walk up them. I don’t know that could have done it anyway. I probably would have died half way up. I take comfort in the fact that I have climbed them before, just not this time. Our last stop for the day was a small church, the St. Maria Dela Vittoria. I think it is one of my favorite churches in all of Europe. It is very small which makes everything seem more intimate. It had beautiful construction and it is most known for its statue, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Berninni. It is the story told by St. Teresa that God came from heaven in the form of an arrow and gave her pleasure. It is one of Amy’s other favorite sculptures. It is beautiful. I could not take a picture though. I will try and find a picture on the internet and send that.

            Today had just been wonderful. I am so glad we came here. I have a feeling that we would have gotten bored in Florence. Now we are on the train going back to Florence, we should be arriving soon. I think our plan is to grab something quick for dinner and go to bed. It is already 10:15pm and I am more than ready for sleep.

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The church in Florence
The church in Florence
The Medici Palace
The Medici Palace
Colosseum
Colosseum
The Trevi Fountain...Make a Wish
The Trevi Fountain...Make a Wish
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps
St. Peters Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
Florence
photo by: monky