I got home a little while ago from Florence. It was a crazy trip which started out poorly but ended up being really fun. So Wednesday we took the train from Milan to Florence, which went smoothly. Usually the trains are kind of a free for all to the cities close to Milan, so I thought Liliana and I could just get on the train and sit next to each other, but the train was divided into boxes with 6 seats per box and Liliana and I were not in the same box. Luckily we weren’t too far away so it was fine and the train ride to Florence was beautiful. But when we got to Florence things started to fall apart.
The train only stopped in the Firenze Rifredi stop, which is kind of far from where we needed to go to get to the center and our hostel, but it was supposed to be easily reachable by bus. So first we had to find where to get tickets, which we did, but then we couldn’t find the bus stop so we wandered around a bit before some boys helped us. Then we got on the bus and because the Italian bus system is really stupid, you have to scan your ticket in this box on the bus(which doesn’t work half the time) to get the date and time stamped on it so you can’t continue to reuse the same ticket. But for some reason, my ticket was fine, but the machine wouldn’t stamp Liliana’s ticket. I tried putting it into the machine different ways and tried it a couple of times and it wouldn’t work, so we just decided not to worry about it. But then there’s a bus worker that walks around the bus and checks tickets, so he wouldn’t accept Liliana’s ticket and started writing out a fine for 55 euros(which is 55 times the cost of the actual bus ticket) even though we were explaining what happened and everyone on the bus was saying they saw us try and it didn’t work. SO then he claimed that he was writing on the ticket that we tried to swipe the ticket but it didn’t work, but we know he didn’t because when we went to file a complaint the worker at the help desk said he wrote that we were trying to use only one ticket and we had to pay the fine. SO we just paid it but filed a complaint. The bus worker was completely rude and a liar, but what goes around comes around so he probably had something really bad happen to him that day(hopefully).
But then we just decided to shake it off and we found our hostel. But we booked a private twin room and our room only had a double bed. But luckily the hostel offered to give us an extra room for the night and then they were going to split the beds for the next night. But we found that the double bed was just two twin beds put together so we just got and extra blanket and split the beds ourselves, so it worked out well. Then it was around 4pm and we hadn’t eaten since that morning so we went in search of food, but all the nice restaurants weren’t serving dinner yet so we wandered around awhile until we finally found a nice place that was open. It was actually really good food and everything was huge. I uploaded a picture of the pizza in the pictures section. We didn’t realize it would be so big or we would have just shared. Anyways, then our day completely turned around and there were a bunch of markets around the Duomo and surrounding areas and Florence was all decorated for Christmas so we walked around and saw all the decorations and took some pictures and then went back to the hostel to relax.
The next day we got Belgian waffles with gelato for breakfast(which was around 10am, we had some toast and tea at the hostel beforehand so it wasn’t really breakfast). We got tiramisu gelato which was amazing, but the waffle wasn’t so good. Then we went to the Ponte Vecchio and on our way there was a car show, so we stopped by and took some pictures. Then we went over the Ponte Vecchio to the Boboli Gardens and Bardini garden, which was amazing and a really good way to work off those waffles since we walked uphill most of the time. We took a bunch of pictures, all of which are on Facebook, but I uploaded my favs in the picture section on this blog. WE decided to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was perfect because even though it was packed, we just sat in the bar area and were in and out in an hour and didn’t have to wait to be seated or anything. So now I have been to Hard Rock Cafes in Boston, Philadelphia, Madrid, Florence and Orlando:)
Then in the afternoon we went to find the Florence library, which was beautiful from the outside, but we couldn’t go in because it was closed for a holiday. We resolved to go back the next day before we had to catch our train at 11:30am, but there was technical problems so we never got to go inside:( But it was fine because there was a beautiful view of the river from the steps of the library. For the rest of the day we shopped around in the market and I got some Christmas presents;) We stay at the markets pretty late and then went back to the hostel and watched some TV in Italian and then watched some movies on our computers and read lol. So it was very relaxing.
The next day we were going to wake up really early and try to go to the library but we slept in a bit, which was fine because the library wasn’t open anyways, so we basically just took a walk, but it was nice. Then we went back to the hostel and checked out. We were going to try and take the bus back to the train station, but we couldn’t find the stop, so we just took a cab, which was not that much more expensive than the bus, so it wasn’t a big deal. We got some snacks at the little store in front of the train station and then waited for the train for like 15 minutes. WE had beautiful weather the whole time we were there. It was a little cloudy, but very warm. But today was much colder so it was good we didn’t have to wait for the train long. Luckily on the train back Liliana and I had seats across from each other in the same box, which was good. And that was our trip. It started out terribly but turned out really well in the end. Just make sure if you go to Italy, if your bus ticket doesn’t scan for some reason try all the machine on the bus and then alert the driver or just get off the bus, because the fines for that stuff are astronomical. I think that’s how the city makes it money…it’s the equivalent of the Philadelphia Parking authority. You will actually save money just taking a cab.
Anyways, I made it there and back in one piece and I am still alive.