Florence, Italy

So I’m a bit behind in updating. I wonder how many blog entries start out that way. I’d imagine quite a few. I’m going to post several things, but break them up for your reading organizational pleasure.

Lets see, last time I left you with me arriving in Florence. To be honest, my initial impression wasn’t too good upon leaving the train station. The city is very cramped feeling, much like what I feel in NYC. There are no trees, nothing green anywhere. The walk to my hostel included a passing by of probably 50 hotels which all look the same. In a way, it was kind of depressing.

I ended up talking with the girl from Albany for some time. Her name is Emily, and I could certainly write a whole page about her, but that is for her to blog about, not me. Anyways, we eventually said goodnight and turned in and I got to enjoy some rather smelly roommates in my dorm. Ugh. I think one snored, as well. It also seems that several of the hostels I had stayed at to that point must have had a 24-hour diesel engine repair shop across the road, because diesel trucks were comming at all hours of the night, revving up, down, starting, etc. It was really infuriating. It may have been garbage collection, but why 3am?

Emily and I spent the day wandering around Florence. It was rife with tourists and churches. If you like churches, then I guess it could be cool. They are pretty impressive, but when you’ve seen 5 enormous Italian churches, each painted by one of the ninja turtles, then you’ve seen them all. Oh, and nobody likes tourists… not even tourists.

On that note, I’ve realized that there is really a Schrodinger’s Cat issue with travel. The more you want to observe a place, the less you can know about how it actually is. The more tourists a place attracts, the more touristy it becomes with little shops and international cuisine and multi-lingual workers, etc. This place is no longer what it once was, and the only reason is because people go to see how it once was. It is an interesting dillema.

After a day of walking around Florence, the highlights can be summed up into a couple quick notes:

We had a great lunch at a nice restaurant and ended up sharing a bottle of wine.

Walking down some street, we saw a guy loading up a huge espresso machine onto the back of his moped. I thought to myself… that is Italy in a nutshell: Espresso machines on mopeds. I Wasn’t fast enough to get a photo, and for that I will forever be regretful.

On another street, I was approached by an asian woman who asked in very good English for €0.50 . I asked her why, since she seemed pretty well to do and for being a Chinese woman in Florence speaking what sounded like fluent English, I couldn’t justify in my mind that she could be a beggar. Well, for whatever reason, I decided to donate to her cause, but accidentally gave her a €0.05 coin. At this point, she looks up at me and says “I said 50 cents! You gave me ONLY 5!” We thought that was somewhat rude of a beggar.

There is one bridge, Ponte Vecchio, which is apparently the only bridge in Florence to survive WW2. Now, it is cramped with small jewlery stores all over the bridge. We were speculating what it would be like if the bridge were bombed now. Imagine all of the gold floating down the Arno. If there’s a WW3, we’re bringing our scuba-gear.

Really, Florence was pretty boring, so we took a random train to Pisa to see the tower. Yeah, it was leaning. Was it worth the trip? Sure, just for variety’s sake. Everything in Pisa was closed, and the tower was a good half-hour walk from the train station. At least now if I’m asked if I saw it, the answer will be yes. Part of us secretly hopes it falls down. I guess they have actually un-leaned it a bit by drilling out from beneath one side. That is totally cheating. If they can do that, they could make it stand upright again. Leave it to Italy to turn an engineering blunder into a tourist attraction.

We had heard reports that Venice smelled like sewage because the canals had dried up. We heard other reports that it was flooded. I looked at a map, and Venice is on the sea, so I can’t see how it could possibly flood or dry up.

We decided:

  • If Venice smells like sewage, we only stay a day.
  • If Venice is flooded, we only stay a day.
  • If Venice is flooded with sewage, we would hop right back on the train.

The next day, we packed up and headed to a train for Venice together.

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