Tag Archives: Florence

Day 29 – Milan to Florence

We got up and went out to do Mode’s laundry. That is, to throw it in the dryer to try to get it dryer. We encountered a crazy old lady who was trying to help us with the laundry, and I barely understood her italian. She told us to come back a lot sooner since the dryer’s time was a bit messed up. While we were waiting for that we went to the grocery store and got some food there. Then came back and the clothes were still a little damp. Whatever, we came back to the hostel, packed up and left. But first we kept our bags at the hostel while we went out to explore more of Milan.

We took the bus to the Duomo again, and this time it was open so we walked up the many flights of stairs to the top and walked along the roof. There was a lot of nice gothic details on the church which made nice pictures. After that we went over to the old castle, which was pretty much in ruins, and walked around the small park behind it. Interestingly, walking around we saw some anti-gay graffiti which must have been made in response to the festival we had seen the previous day.

We came back to the hostel and got our bags, got on the other bus and headed to the station. We weren’t sure what stop to get off at, but luckily this girl sitting on the bus helped us out. We started talking to her and it turns out she was from Brazil, traveling around doing menial jobs like working in fast food places. She was very nice, but soon left and we got on the train to Florence.

The ride from Milan to Florence was pretty scenic, but I napped a lot. We finally got off the train and made our way to the hostel. It was a pretty low key informal hostel, but nice. Marco helped us with places to go see and we put down our stuff. In the common area we met this girl who we soon regretted meeting. She was a chatterbox and would not. shut. up. She would go on and on and on about herself and her sorority and brother’s fraternity. It was a bit amusing because her huge obnoxious glasses had left a tan line across her eyes so she looked like an inverted raccoon. Well at the time we weren’t sick of her so she tagged along when we decided to go to the bridge to see some rumored fireworks.

Got to the bridge, Ponte Vechia, and there were all sorts of peoples, a musician playing various qualities of music, and it was all chill. We waited there for a while and it got dark and crowded. Suddenly there were fireworks! and everyone ooohed and aaahhed at them. It was pretty awesome. We also met this guy Isaac, who became an iconic figure for the rest of the trip. A legend, shall we say. Isaac was a guy from Austria who spoke pretty good English and Italian. He had a very Austrian accent, but not like the Arnold type accent. He was also a bit… weird. Some of his more famous quotes would be “Oh Ben, you’re so funny, iz so good to meet you” or “That’s amaizing!” He was a character. He also was kind of hitting on me, though claiming he wasn’t. I knew he didn’t mean anything negative and he really was a very nice guy, just a little weird. But we like weird people and told him we should hang out the next day.

We started walking back to the hostel but stopped to hang out in the Piazza di Republica for a bit. I got my white shirt a bit dirty and for some reason the stain hasn’t come out. We headed back, but unfortunately Isaac’s hostel was a mile or two from where our place was, so I tried to give him the easiest directions back to his place and he set off to find his way back.

Then we knocked out.

Day 30 – Florence

In the morning we went out and got patches at a nearby alternative store. I finally found something I liked and I didn’t even know what it meant, which was a Ducks Unlimited patch. Apparently, as I learned later, Ducks Unlimited is a hunting club of some sort. Even so, the name Ducks Unlimited, and then a picture of a duck, it’s just so cool. I put it on my bag sometime later, and did a pretty poor job at it too, but it fit alright.

After that we went out to the Duomo, which was large. Very large in fact. While waiting in line to go up the million stairs (million equalling 566 I believe), we saw some police pull up next to the line, a police man jumping out and running, and at the same time all the street venders immediately packing up and bolting out of there. It was a nice cops and robbers chase without guns and stuff, but pretty cool. Short lived, and no real action-like moment, but whatever.

Going up the stairs of the church there was a lot and a lot of graffiti. All over the place people had made their marks. But we eventually got to the top and it was quite beautiful. We could see almost all of Florence and got some great pictures. We were a bit tired so we just chilled up there at the top for a long time. Also at this time we saw a character named Dan-O who we would meet later on that day.

After deciding we were thoroughly chilled, we went back down. Then we walked around and eventually got back to the Ponte Vechia where we got some gelato and hung out eating our extremely delicious ice cream.

Then we came back to the hostel to find that Isaac (the Austrian from the previous night) had left us a letter! I wish I could transcribe it but I sent the letter home in a package a couple days later. It went something like this:
Dear Ben,
Hallo, something something sorry I slept in and couldn’t meet you guys at somewhere something something I went to your hostel and you weren’t there so I am leaving this message. I will stay here (scratch out) I will come back here later to see if you are here yet, something something, – Isaac

What was weird is he didn’t really know exactly where our hostel was, so he must have looked around for a while trying to find it. Not sure how he did that, but it was kind of a funny letter with broken English everywhere. We had missed the time we were going to meet him in some place anyway because we were across the city at that time. Anyhow, we laid around the hostel hanging out with Marco and also met these two girls from somewhere. And all of a sudden who shows up but Isaac and PSTFU girl! We then encountered two more guys who were actors in the US. So we had a full entourage ready to go to dinner and we had heard about an amaizing restaurant near the central station, so we went there. Unfortunately the two girls said they would meet up with us later and never did, but it sounded like they had a good time.

So we went to this restaurant, which all I can remember name wise is that it had a vertical green neon Ristorante sign and underneath said Pizza al Legno (wood oven pizza). We went in and were greeted by this very friendly older man, and soon seated deep into the restaurant. The food there was absolutely amazing. Delicious times a million. True Italian food at its finest. We filled up and decided afterwards that Mode had to pay rent by a certain time and so we decided to meet back in front of the station in a little bit.

Did just that, and when we got to the station who was there but Dan-O! Interesting guy with some Nightmare Before Christmas tattoos and a few interesting stories. We all got up and went over to a bar in a plaza a few blocks away.

Strangest thing happened at this bar. One of those weird cosmic coincidences that you find every now and then, and more often while traveling. We were standing in line for a pint, and a guy behind us in line started talking to Mode. He asked him how much the price was, and then they both noticed the looked a bit familiar… “Is your named Pramodh?” “YEAH IS YOUR NAME PRAMODH!” wtf? wtf! wtf. They loudly and excitedly had found each other, and the whole bar witnessed this momentous event (though few understood what exactly was going on). The story here is that these two, freshman year of college, were searching on the social network Facebook. Apparently the only other person of the 2008 class named Pramodh was this guy who went to school in Ohio. Of course they friended each other because the name Pramodh (with that spelling) was pretty rare and a good thing to friend someone for. Three years later, these two people meet in a bar, in Florence, halfway around the world. Crazy right? Right.

So we chilled outside the bar. They talked. Hit on some girls. Mode gave a girl his terydactyl toy from Interlaken. We stayed in the plaza for a long time but started getting hungry, and the bar closed, so our group of people (of which many had left but some had stayed) left in search of another bar or some food, whichever came first. We then proceeded to walk around Florence for a long long time. We finally found a bar that was open, but by that time Mode, Dan-O and I decided we cared about food more, and luckily the bartender girl from the other bar was kind enough to tell us where (the only) kebab place was. We went there and got some amaizing kebab. Everything tastes amazing late at night and with an extreme appetite. We took our freshly made wraps to the nearby plaza with statues and sat down right in the middle of the square and ate. Not too many people there, but oddly enough it was the crossroad of Florence because the other guys soon joined us and left, and Isaac wandered there very drunkenly and left, and a really hot girl on a bicycle rode by and asked for cigs, but left when we had none.

Dan-O wanted to try to get into his hostel, which had a curfew so we didn’t have high hopes, so we walked over to where he was staying and luckily he got in. Said our farewells and headed off to our place to fall asleep ourselves.