June 29, 2006
It is hard to believe that more than a month has passed already since we got back from our trip. And I’m still recapping the days! I apologize for being so slow lately.. I’ve been busy with the usual stuff and bit distracted from my blog. But, I am going to try to be better :) And stretching out the recaps just helps me to prolong the reminiscing, right?
Day 5 was Friday- and we were going to Florence. The best parts of our trip were the ‘optional excursions’ we got to choose from, and a day trip to see another Italian city was a great opportunity. I mean, Rome was wonderful and a definite must-see, but I was anxious and interested in seeing what other cities might be like.
We boarded the EuroStar train in Rome at Termini station, which was exciting and fun and bustling with activity that morning, since it was rush hour. The ride covered something like 300 miles, but it was only going to take about 90 minutes to reach Florence. That means we would be GOING VERY FAST. And we did! Going a million miles per hour through the Tuscan country side made it a little tricky to take pictures, but I did my best. It really was just like you see in the movies– lush and green and beautiful (even at a million miles per hour!)
Once we arrived in Florence (around 10am-ish) we were greeted by our local tour guide, who gave us our ear phones and started our walking tour of the main highlights of the city. We toured a few of the major churches, walked along the streets (MUCH calmer and not quite as crowded as in Rome), basically just soaked it all in. I had a bit of a panic moment when I realized that all 3 of my sets of batteries for my camera hadn’t charged quite right and were about to go dead any minute- luckily I was able to buy a set of regular AAs at a souvinir stand. Thank goodness for that! Before I was able to buy new batteries, I was able to squeeze in a picture of Michelangelos tomb:
Unfortunately, on the opposite wall was Galileo’s tomb, but my batteries went kaput before I could get a picture. Which of course was a bummer for us geeks.
Our guided tours lasted until lunchtime, and after that we had free time until around 4pm. Dan and I ate lunch at an outdoor cafe in Piazza Santa Croce with a gorgeous sunshine-y view of the Basilica of Santa Croce.
The rest of the afternoon we spent going back and forth across the city. Our original plan was to try to visit the museum to see the Statue of David, but by the time we got there, the line was VERY long and we knew we wouldn’t have time before we had to meet our group for our 5:30pm train back to Rome. So we had to settle for seeing the replica out in the square- which was still quite impressive, though not as exciting as seeing the real one that Michelangelo created. But Dan still managed to make fun of poor David’s (replicated) manhood.
Then we headed down to the old bridge to see the city from the view of the river.
We still had quite a bit of time left… so we insanely decided that it would be cool to climb 400+ steps to the top of the bell tower of Santa Maria del Flora. And it was great once we got to the top… but getting there was VERY TIRING. It didn’t sound like a lot of steps until we started up them… and it kept going and going and going. And just when we thought we had reached the top level and got some great pictures… there was another level! We finally made it to the very top and the view of the city and the mountains around it was breathtaking.
Once we got to the top, we hung out for a little while. Hey- after all that walking up those steps, I was going to enjoy the view for a bit! And get a gelato at the shop I could see across the street. I deserved it!
Okay.. now the semi-embarassing story. All week I kept doing incredibly klutzy things and Dan of course kept laughing at me. We boarded quite a few buses for our tours, and I kept forgetting that there was a step UP to get into our seats, and a step DOWN to get out.. which led to me tripping quite a few times. And I hit my head on the dropped ceilings of the busses numerous times. And Dan laughed.
Thank goodness he didn’t see what I did on the train coming back from Florence.
At the end of each train was a mechanical door that opened in half- meaning that you press the button, and it would slide open, one half of the ‘glass’ going into the wall on the left, and the other half going into the wall on the right. Through the door was a little area with the door to the outside and the bathroom. Well, I’m an idiot. I went through the door fine, and used the bathroom (did that fine, too) but on the way back into the cabin area, I forgot that there was even a door there, because it was open when I started walking through it (apparently someone had just pressed the button and came through ahead of me) While I was mid-way through, it closed on me, and my arms were pulled behind me by the elbows and my chest was sticking out all funny… I looked like a dufus. It didn’t hurt or anything, because it sensed that something was in the way (like, MY BODY) and opened back up immediately. But there were a few seconds where I was standing there staring at the people facing me, half-stuck in the door. Yeah. I’m so graceful. Thankfully Dan was at the other end of the train, facing the other direction and didn’t get to see it. Too bad for him!
Sadly, we only had this 1 day in Florence, which obviously was not enough to experience everything in the city. But I was still very glad to be able to go while in Italy. On that note, here is a picture of Dan in front of his favorite thing in Florence.