Europe: Day 12

Florence, Italy

I had an early train to catch to Florence. The night before, I realized that the train will stop at Firenze Rifredi but my hotel was closer to Firenze Santa Maria Novella. It was at least 45 minute walk in the heat with my luggage. It was a small mistake but oh well. While on the train, I met up with a recently married couple from Hawaii. Jordan and Olivia were on their honeymoon doing the Europe trip as well. We started talking and I found out that they were from the island of Oahu. This was the island that I vacationed on a few years ago. My stories of Oahu made them a little home sick and they reminisced about the things that they missed most about the island. We exchanged stories of our trip so far and I was glad to hear that they were enjoying the first trip. I gave them some advice and recommended that they keep travelling while they came. They gave me some pointers for Paris. Before getting off the train, we exchange contact information. So if I am ever in Oahu again, they offered to show me around. I told them that if they were ever in my part of Ontario, I would have a place for them to stay.

The hotel that I stayed at was not too far from the main attractions. My room was on the fourth floor and the hotel did not have an elevator so it was a long climb up 5 flights of stairs. The view wasn’t too bad and it wasn’t too noisy. Unlike Venice, my room wasn’t beside a busy street so it was quiet during the night. The lady that ran the hotel was very nice. Before I went to my room, she gave me a map of Florence. I didn’t end up using it because I had my smart phone and an offline Google Maps.

The first place I went in search of was Il Duomo di Firenze. It’s a fairly large cathedral. Much like other cathedrals that I’ve been too, the area was swarming with tourists. I was hoping that entrance was free but no, you had to pay. Line up to get inside went from the front of the cathedral to the left. I walked around the cathedral to see what it was like. Parts it was under construction. By this point, I was starting to get sick of seeing cathedrals. It’s as if once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I didn’t spend too much time in the area.

After walking around the area for a while, I just stopped by and bought gelato. That’s when I noticed that I was running out of Euros. I went to the foreign exchange place and bough another 100 Euros. It was an expensive transaction. The place said that they don’t charge a commission but they had a fairly hefty service charge. It was a bit mistake to exchange money that way. I found that it was cheaper just to go to the bank machine and make withdrawals from there.

Towards the end of the day, I headed up to Piazzale Michelangelo. There’s a bronze replica of the statue of David. It didn’t look that nice because there was bird poop all over the statue. And the bronze was rusted which didn’t look well for David because it made it appear as if he had an accident running down his leg.

To the left of the statue was a blocked off area that was filled with exercise bikes. There were people setting up for some group ride session. I estimated something along the lines of 300 exercise bikes. There were people at the front of the group. Two of them were the personal trainer type where they would motivate the group. Also, there was a DJ and a drummer that would get the group going with music. This session grow quite a crowd. I stuck around for an hour or two, mainly because the sun was going down and I wanted to catch a sunset.

On the way back to the hotel, I cross a bridge where a couple of musicians were playing. The bridge was slightly covered so it was a nice acoustic setting. These guys were pretty good. I stuck around for a couple of songs. But even when I got off the bridge I could still here them.

There was a lovely sunset during my walk back to the hotel. It’s always nice catching sunsets. It was a nice calm stroll along the river side.

I don’t have much of a lasting impression of Florence. I think the highlight was watching the people on the exercise bike. Well, there was that one time where I bought pizza and sat outside to eat but then some homeless lady came by and asked for change. I gave her some loose change and then she asked for the pizza. I could have told her to buy her own with the change that I gave her but I didn’t bother. I broke off a piece and gave it to her. She had the biggest smile on her face for that piece of pizza. There seems to bit quite a bit of homeless people in Europe. I feel sorry for them because they’re out in the heat. I have lots of loose change that I didn’t want to carry around much so I would give out some change when I can.

Florence is a city that you can see in one day but that depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. But even if you want more of an in depth history lession, perhaps you can spend one or two hours at the cathedrals and museums. For Florence, I spend most of my time at the hill top where I had a nice view of the city.