Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday + {Day Twenty-Five: Rome + Florence}

I woke up at midnight and realized that Gooligan still hadn’t gone to bed. I got up to investigate and she, Sarah, and Shannon were in the other room, desperately trying to call a taxi. Apparently not only was Shannon’s phone having difficulty connecting with Italian numbers, but whatever taxis they eventually did get ahold of simply didn’t have anyone free or working that early in the morning (they needed a taxi for 4:30).

Since our apartment was about five or six km from the main train station (where there are always a reliable number of taxis), we decided, worst case scenario, they’d walk and we’d walk with them. After all, Gooligan and I were leaving from Termini so it wasn’t out of our way—just really early—but we wanted to make sure they got their safely.

Shannon even enlisted extra help in finding a taxi, but to no avail. Not even the super expensive private car company they called could send someone at that time. Not sure if this is normal for Rome or what, but we all woke up and got ready to walk to the train station at two in the morning.

Before we left, Gooligan had a brilliant idea and looked online to see if there were any buses that ran that early (trams don’t start until 5:30). Eventually she found a night bus and we made it to the stop on time. (Not only are the night buses not really advertised, but their stops look a lot different than the bus stops we were used to seeing.) It was just a post with a tiny sign that said “stop” in Italian and had the acronym of the transit system on it.

But thankfully the bus did, in fact, stop when they saw us there and we rode it all the way to Termini where there were plenty of taxis waiting. Since we were really early, and since Termini station doesn’t open until 4:30), Shannon and Sarah waited with us for an hour. We really appreciated it since Rome is not exactly the cleanest or safest place.

But finally Termini opened and since Shannon and Sarah needed to catch a taxi at that time anyway, it worked out perfectly. We said our goodbyes and told them to email us periodically so we know they arrived safely.

Gooligan and I made our way into Termini station, where we found the only open coffee shop and ordered some pastries and hot chocolate. The guy behind the counter definitely gave me a latte instead of a hot chocolate, but after freezing outside, we were just happy it was warm.

After a quick pit stop, we found a warmer place to sit and Gooligan read some of the book we’re reading together out loud. While we were sitting there, so many people stared or verbally harassed us. This is one of the factors that made Rome probably our least favorite city on this whole trip: the aggressiveness of men. From our first horrible encounter on the train to Rome to our last day, the men here are simply reprehensible. Crowning jerk of the trip: the loudmouth we had to listen to blab about how stupid American study abroad girls are, especially when he dropped the c-word.

Gooligan and I have felt safe everywhere on this trip—even in Dublin, which is definitely a rougher city—but there are definitely certain cesspools of males in Europe.

Unless you are an art buff or an archeologist or a devout Catholic, frankly I have no idea why anyone would willingly come to this city. But at least it is behind us now: we are currently on the train zipping along to Florence.

Looking forward to ending this trip on a high note over the next few cities!

After we arrived in Florence, it was only around nine in the morning, and we couldn't check into our Airbnb until seven at night, so we dropped our bags at a manned bag desk at the train station. About five euro per bag for the first five hours, then seventy cents for every additional hour. In total it cost us fourteen euro to be bag-free in the city all day, which was a deal. We took our valuables with us, just in case, which meant our daypack was heavy enough to deal with as we took turns carrying it.

Our first stop was the Galleria dell'Accademia, the museum that houses Michaelangelo's David. Tickets were eleven euro each but completely worth it. I was blown away by the statue. There is, obviously, a lot of other amazing art in the museum--and a whole wing devoted to old instruments--but I didn't realize how big David was. We weren't allowed to take photographs but even if we had, I'm not sure the scope of the statue would be captured. My brain can't even wrap itself around how Michaelangelo sculpted something so much bigger than himself.

Anyway, after the Galleria, we stopped for lunch right next to the Duomo (we didn't go in, though, because we wanted to save something for another day). Then we got gelato (some of Gooligan's favorite so far!) and hiked over to the river, the old medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio, and up through Piazzale Michaelangelo, a square that has a fantastic view of Florence.

Gooligan and I sat on a stone wall for awhile and read each other parts of the book we're reading together, then made our way back to the train station with a stop at a grocery store for some snacks for the next few days.

After we picked up our bags, we caught the bus to our Airbnb. Since we were still early, we sat around in San Marco square for awhile killing time, ate a slice of awful pizza, and then made our way over to the bus.

Check-in went smoothly; we're staying in a detached room from our host family. The room is beautiful, there is a great mix of privacy but also someone around to ask for help/advice. The only slightly inconvenient thing is that the bathroom is up in the main house and you have to go up these stairs and through the kitchen, so at night or during meal times it's a little awkward, but they're been great so far!

Plus the bed is perfect. Almost too perfect. Prying myself out of it to do anything over the next three days will be an ultimate test of my willpower. Just kidding. But boy am I looking forward to sleeping!


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