Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Italy Part II - Florence

Our first day in Florence was actually a holiday there which I found out soon after we arrived when I tried to ask for a map and got yelled at by the guy at the tourist information at the train station. Don't I know it's St. Giovani's day and therefore his shift ended at 2 pm - exactly 13 minutes ago?!  I have honestly never been yelled at like that before in my entire life. Even though there are some pretty good stories, I'll fast forward through bus/taxis/hotel check-in/dinner, etc. 
After we ate, we were just sitting on the steps at Piazza Duomo people watching when a couple sat next to us and Curtis told me the girl looked really familiar, it turns out she's a teacher at the school where he works and we had a lot of fun hanging out with them that night. Here they are at Piazza della Signoria (where the replica of the statue of David is).
Next we climbed up 414 step to the top of this tower. Oh the things you do when you are tired and not thinking straight.
Here's Curt about half-way up. Note no handrails. It's all leg work here!
And what do you get when you get to the top? A very out-of-breath-Cristi and this (breathtaking) view:
Ok, so I have to ask. Does anyone know who this photographer is? He was having a workshop there and I think he's Australian. It was cool to see his workshop and it looked like they were having a lot of fun! It made me want to do another "destination workshop" soon.
When the sun was setting we went over to the Ponte Vecchio to see the fireworks. Remember, it's St. Giovani's Day!
I didn't take many fireworks pictures (too many people holding their cameras up) but behind us, this bridge was sooo pretty!Now I cannot fast forward through this bus ride. The front desk at our hotel said we could just take any bus number 14 to get back to the hotel. Some of the people we met downtown told us the last buses were around midnight. We caught this one at 12:50. After about a 20 minute bus ride I just knew it couldn't be right so I pulled out my tourist map and asked the girl standing next to me to point to where we were on the map at that moment. She took a few seconds to take a good look at the map and then pointed to about 12 inches north off of the map! I panicked a little bit inside knowing that this was the last bus and that we had NO IDEA where we were. I squeezed my way to the front of the bus and told the bus driver (again in my impressive Italian) that I was told bus number 14 would takes us to Griffone. He laughed a really good laugh and said yes, but today is a holiday! St. Giovani's day! And therefore the bus routes are different. It's a long story but we made it back to our hotel safely at around 2 am.
The following day we decided to skip the buses altogether and walked a really long ways to Galleria dell'Accademia (where the statue of David is). It was fun to walk through so many different neighborhoods. Here's Curt and all the vespas, which are everywhere, no matter where you are!
There's a lot of people asking for money in creative ways. I especially liked this guy:Later that day we were back at the Piazza della Signoria and decided to share the really yummy dessert our friends had the first day we were there (see first picture on this post). We knew it was 8 Euros for a waffle with gelato on top, but hey we are on vacation right? The girl asked what flavors we wanted and I asked how many we needed to choose and she said 3. She handed us our delicious concoction and said 16 Euros! What?! The price doubled from last night?! She replied that 8 Euros is just for one flavor and that I had picked 3 flavors, and I said but you told me to pick 3, and she said but you didn't ask how much it was, we argued a little until Curtis just gave her the money and we left. I was actually pretty mad. I then later read on our little tourist guide not to eat gelato there as they like to scam tourists. I guess you are supposed to read the guide book before you go. Here's our $23 dessert:
The sugar seemed to have a calming effect and we continued on with our sightseeing :)
Curtis begged me to buy him this car and these pants, but after our dessert splurge I just had to put my foot down:
Can you believe this is chalk art on the street?
Here's the artist. Just amazing.
And here's one more bus story for you. Our last day in Florence we were at the bus stop with all our luggage headed to the train station to make our way to Rome. We sat there for about 15 minutes when a lady walking out of the bakery informed us that there was a bus strike that day and therefore, there would not be any buses coming. I guess this explains why when we checked out of our hotel the other tourists there were mad at the front desk people that they couldn't get a taxi for them. There was another girl at the bus stop and I explained to her what was going on so we decided to share a taxi to the train station. It started to rain pretty hard and it took a few hours before we could get a taxi. Curt snapped this picture of me while we were trying to get a taxi. Yes, I just noticed my umbrella wasn't opened all the way.
And just one more image from Florence:
Next up is Rome!


Joanna said...

O my ...yes I know who that photographer is...dun dun dun...it's Jerry Ghionis. I heard is workshops are amazing. See you in two weeks.

Joanna said...

OK another comment. I love the night time photos of the bridge with the sunset...and reading your story on the ice cream scam made me mad...we are very a like.

Overall I know you enjoyed the trip. :)

Can't wait to see more.

Cristi said...

Thanks, Joanna! So glad you knew who he was. I can't wait for our fun retreat in just 2 weeks!

megan said...

jerry ghionis is one of my fav photogs. i would love to win the lottery or book 10 more weddings than my goal & go to one of his workshops!!!! looks like the trip was a lot of fun!

Meg said...

Jerry Ghionis! How do you not know that after being at WPPI?? lol :) anyways- LOVE the photos!

Cristi said...

thanks for making fun of me, meg! i miss you. i wish you were coming to AKC!

Kimberly Jarman said...

LOL. I thought that was who it was.. Come on Cristi!! LOL!! That's so funny you took a picture of him doing a workshop there. Hillarious!

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