Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Florence, Italy - Day 4 of 12

Well, it started in Rome. I woke up in the two twin beds pushed together with Court on hers, Roo on mine and myself in the middle towards the end. Roo had to bounce out of there and discovered his phone was missing. We looked all over the place, even in the trash can. It was no where to be found. I gave him our map and outlined where he lived as we rely on our phone so many things. As you or I would be, he was pretty upset and left without a farewell except a 'Later, ladies.' We felt terrible.

We had to catch a train to Florence that morning as well. We packed and had our continental breakfast. They served cake, pastries, toast, cheese and charcuterie, cereal, juice, tea, coffee and fresh fruit. I always had the fresh peaches. So good. I also had the succo which I believe was a blood orange but I'm not quite sure.

Unfortunately, Marco, the gent at the concierge wasn't there that Monday morning and we didn't get to say goodbye. We paid our hotel taxes which was 8 Euros per night and we were on our way with our almost 50-pound luggage. Thankfully we were a block from the train station.

I checked with the Italo club and they gave us the correct train number. We are also thankful for Roo's tip that people wait near the boards to see which train arrives at which platform. As soon as we saw ours, we had to race over there. It was at the other end of the terminal. We showed them our tickets and they let us in through security. We didn't have to go thru screenings or metal detectors. We were assigned to particular car and had seat numbers.

On the platform, people will blindly step in front of you as if you weren't waiting in line to board. Fine, whatever. People will also be smoking on the platform. I can't stand the smell. Thank goodness no smoking is allowed on the train.

We boarded finally and I was in no rush to get to my seat. There was no point. People had to find their seats, store their luggage and get comfy. My bag was too thick to be placed above us. Courtney and I tried to do it together. Her's was fine. She wins the luggage weight and now size challenge. I had to roll my bag to the opposite side of the car and just leave it next to the stroller. I was oversized.

I took my seat next to Courtney and we had already started moving. The motion made me nervous so I took a Dramamine. Before it kicked it and it made me fall asleep, a couple with a baby where in the next row and across from me. For some reason, the parents thought it was a brilliant idea to give the child a toy and have it repeatedly bang it on the metal tray. The father was in view and he was on his phone with a baby blanket in front of him. Why don't you put the blanket on top of the metal tray, Sir? I really wanted to ask instead I just kind of said 'What the fuck?' a few times because I could hear it through my headphones. Eventually I passed out but was awoken to show the agent our tickets with our passport. I thought it was a quick ride and that we would be off boarding soon. Nope, I had 40 more minutes to sleep. Thankfully the child was what I presume was asleep as well.

We headed into Florence and it looked familiar to me, in the way it looked to get to Pisa. I saw the top of a duomo but didn't know which one it was. We arrived, unloaded ourselves with our enormous luggage and headed out of the station. I was dopey from the Dramamine and didn't feel like talking. We got in line for a taxi and it was our first female driver. No flirting went on as the men did in Rome. It was pretty much a silent ride to our hotel which wasn't too far away.

We checked into our hotel and jumped in their narrow elevator to the second floor. We had an actual key attached to a metal hexagon shaped piece with a heavy weight wrapped around its end. Lugging our luggage, I was ecstatic about the extra weight.

I can't remember if we took a nap before we went out to explore but regardless, a nap was necessary every single day of this trip so far. We just wandered around, took wrong turns, used the wrong crosswalks, think we were on certain streets but wasn't. We eventually got the hang of it. Honestly, I was kinda crabby and tired from that pill so I probably wasn't the best company. I wasn't really talking and nothing excited me. I was just tired.

We randomly came across the Galleria dell'Accademia where the David was. Museums were closed on Mondays so we couldn't see him that day. We kept walking, saw leather shops, gelaterias, ristorantes and eventually saw the building Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and continued to move that direction. As more people were in our way, we knew we were approaching a busy piazza. We went into the cathedral and it was huge, beautiful and free. There was a way to light candles for your loved ones but in order to that you would have to blow out one and replace it with another. There just wasn't any candles left. I remember doing this at other churches while I was in Europe and prayed for those I love.






Still tired, I moved on with little enthusiasm until I was under the dome. The ceiling of the rotunda was painted and the inner circle made it look like the people were hanging off ledges. Like the Sistine Chapel, how did the do that? It must have been so dangerous and took years. It was beautiful.


You could climb to the top of the duomo and get a panoramic look at the city but 463 steps and paying to do so was not of interest for me. I was still sore from the Spanish Steps and my abs were sore from that workout.

We went out to the piazza and had pizza and a Coke outside. I read the a-frame board wrong and thought I was getting a deal on pizza and a soda. We selected the pepperoni pizza and the funghi pizza. They weighed each slice and then temporarily placed it in the oven. It came out to $16. The Coke alone was 3 Euros each. I guess it was decent. I thought I was getting it for 6 euros each. Oh well. The pizza was tasty. Of course I preferred the mushroom one and the Coke in Italy is less sweeter than the ones provided in America. The pepperoni was definitely spicy and a bit on the chewy side. I couldn't finish my pieces and I had to dab the pizza with a napkin to collect some of the excess oil. I could feel the potential heartburn coming on.


We continued to walk on and saw Prada, Gucci, Armani and more. Shopping? I'm doing that while in Milan. We passed a piazza with a carousel, many vendors with leather goods, jewelry and souvenirs and then we came across a little covered square with all the leather products you can ask for. Find belts, wallets, purses, backpacks, jackets and scarfs, pancho and more. Court bought herself a scarf. I will probably buy myself a leather jacket in Milan.




We continued on and found ourselves at the base of Ponte Vecchio. Cugino and I randomly found ourselves at the Rialto Bridge when we first arrived in Venice. We turned to our right and saw a bright elevated walkway. And that's how we found and realized we were on the Rialto Bridge. We were already on it. I didn't want to step on it until I saw it from afar. We walked a block west and was able to take some photos of the bridge. The water underneath it was brown and muddy.


Continuing on, one of my former bartenders and Sommelier, Thom, provided me some points of interest, including Santo Spirito. We eventually found it and it wasn't really happening. We walked in and walked out. Perhaps during the evening this would be like Rome's Piazza Nevona. With no real destination, we headed East and came across more ristorantes, gelaterias and museums. A banner flew about works of fashion and I was so unenthused. Poor Courtney. I was grumpy pants.

Passing another outdoor seating area, I pointed out the empty martini glasses that were sitting in front of a couple to Court. I presume the were once filled with an affogato. We found a little square with four restaurant options and picked one to sit at and have one. Our server was pretty and reminded me of Maria, a server I worked with while at Buon Appetito in Hayward. She had an accent, spoke English well and her makeup was perfect and eyelash extensions were on. No other server we have come across looked like her.

We sat next to an older couple. They were grumpy too. The wife was getting agitated that he couldn't read the servers writing for the wifi password. After letting her try to decipher the code herself, I passed her my menu that had the password in print on the first page. No point of getting angry over not being able to access the rest of the world. Trust me, I know! Wifi in our hotel rooms haven't been the greatest.

We had our affogatos and they were tasty. It takes me back to the cruise Cugino and I were on and I had one every day. I seriously gained weight so fast on that trip. Well, when it's all you can eat and drink! The gym was there but I was on vacation. These were good and it seemed like Court and I were in competition over who can finish it first. We were quiet and I could hear the spoons clinking on the glass and we both tilting the cup to make sure we got every drop.





I was beyond tired. I proposed going back to the room to nap. Court was game. We headed in the direction of the hotel but crossed over Ponte Vecchio. I was surprised to see that every single shop there was a jewelry shop. During my trip in 2012, I made it a point to get a piece of jewelry from every city that we visited. I was very much into selling Stella & Dot at that time.  Now that I think of it, I can't remember which piece of jewelry did I get from Pisa.

We made it to the hotel and we crashed. I woke up and was hungry. Surprise, surprise. I asked Court if she was hungry but she laid back down. I offered to bring her something back. I used my good ol' Yelp app to try to find what was open. I found one close by and headed that direction. When I arrived at where it should have been, the restaurant was not where I expected it to be. So I went in the other direction and headed to Perseus. I went inside and asked for a table for one. The restaurant went father than expected and there was meat everywhere! The decor had paintings on the wall, pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and the lighting was dim. I was sat at a table and I felt my Italian was escaping me that I felt like I failed when the waiter finally asked, "English?" Yeah. Damnit.





I looked over the menu and thought about what I could get that I can split with Court. I went with the pennette with carne which was steak, lamb with balsamic and grilled vegetables. I didn't eat all the pasta and was getting a little full. I pushed it away and asked if they had to go boxes. He said no and I didn't think he understood me so I pulled out my phone and used the Google translate app. I showed him what I meant and he said no again. I was puzzled. No to go boxes? What if I don't finish all this meat? Well, the pasta was taken away and the lamb was good but filling. On my grilled veggies platter I had red bell pepper, some thing that could have been endive, eggplant and a potato. The potato was wrapped in foil. A-ha! I could wrap up Court's meat in foil. The potato was good, the eggplant a bit tough and the bell pepper sweet. Also on my table was a huge bowl of raw veggies - celery, radishes, what looked like kale and carrots. I snacked on a few carrots in between my bites of lamb. I placed the piece of foil on my plate and started cutting up pieces to put in the foil. I then wrapped it up and placed it far to the side of me to where they would have to reach pretty far to get it off the table. I felt like I was hiding chewed up meat in a napkin so my mom wouldn't see and I could eventually going to throw it away in the trash without her even knowing. I paid and left holding my piece of foil. Is taking food home with you frowned upon? I have no idea.





The walk back was quiet and short. Court was still asleep so I left her dinner on the desk. I played on my phone, texted and ended up working until 1:30 AM. I had a hard time falling asleep. Something was on my mind and I hated it. I think I fell asleep at about 3:30 AM. I then get called via WhatsApp from work and them needing some financial docs that I could most likely find and send to them quicker than them trying to find it themselves. I got my laptop back out and sent them what they needed. Then I went back to sleep. This time until at least 9 AM.



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