Alright. Another bad pun to start a post. Way to go.
So we headed to Florence for the weekend of the 1-4 of November, which was a long weekend, meaning we got Thursday and Friday off. When I say that it was a firenze (or a frenzy, if you didn’t get the pun), it really was. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong on the trip TO Florence went wrong. So buckle up because we’re going for a ride (unless it breaks down, like our train. But I’ll get to that.).
So we woke up at the crack of dawn on the 1st, expecting to travel from 8am to 5pm. We would go to Rosenheim, Germany, then down to Bologna, then to Florence. All should work out, right?
So from the getgo, our trip from Salzburg to Rosenberg went wrong. Let me preface by saying this: according to the nice Canadian family I met, a ton of other trains in the area were all thrown onto this one train, which was headed for Munich as its last stop, so it was packed to the brim. So there were hundreds of more people that were on this train than there were supposed to be. Keep this in mind.
So the trip from Salzburg to Rosenheim was cut short because of construction, which the train company didn’t warn anyone about. So we had to get off the train, where there were buses waiting for us to take us to the next train station.
How many buses were there?
Three. For hundreds of people.
So after squeezing our way onto a bus in the “first set,” we were told to get off because we weren’t allowed to stand. So the buses leave for the train station, which was about 30 minutes away, and a 30-minute ride back, so we missed our transfer in Rosenheim. When we finally did get a bus, our whole group got split up so we were each on one of the three buses that came to pick us up. So there was confusion because none of us could contact each other, and they all arrived at the train station at different times, meaning we missed the next train from the train station to Rosenheim.
30 minutes later, when we finally did get our trip to Rosenheim, we realized we would have a 2-hour wait until our trip from Rosenheim to our next stop, which was changed to Padova because it wouldn’t go straight to Bologna. So now we had a change to make in Padova, to get to Bologna to make the change from Bologna to Florence. So after getting food and complaining about trains, we hopped on the train from Rosenheim to Padova. Also packed, but we got seats, but they were “Express-Reservierung” seats, so if anyone came with the reservation we’d be required to give it to them. So after getting “de-seated,” we were all split up, and only two of us had tickets for the rest of us.
So we’re all split up, no communication, and we were going to have to rush in Padova to get the change to get to Bologna to get the change to Florence (keeping up?), and just when things seemed they couldn’t get any worse…
Our train broke down.
So we’re stuck near Innsbruck, on a 5-hour train that just got even longer, meaning we’d miss our change from Padova to Bologna, and then our change from Bologna to Florence, and we’d also be charged by Airbnb for being late.
So once the train finally got working, around 30/40 minutes later, we were back on the way to Padova.
And despite how frustrating the whole ordeal was, the train from where we were stopped in Innsbruck to Padova was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. There’s really nothing that I’ve seen that’s as breathtaking as that trip. The train would turn and you’d be presented with a huge bridge, spanning an entire valley, with a river at the bottom, a waterfall, and a village, and a towering, snowy alpine slope behind it. That train ride, with the fall colors and the fog, was seriously one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. It was remarkable, and I wish I got more pictures, but I wasn’t at a window seat, surrounded by strangers, and I figured it’d be weird to ask for them to move out of the way for me to get some pictures. (But I got some on the way back, but not of the same valley because our train took a different route).
Anyways, after a stressful few hours of knowing we’d miss our next train but hoping we wouldn’t, we finally got into Padova, where we (of course) missed our train to Bologna, because our train to Padova had broken down.
So we had to go in to talk to the Trenitalia people, but the guy refused to speak English with us, so when a nice Italian guy who was in the same boat as we were (had been on the same route, from Salzburg up to where we were, because he lived in Florence), offered to translate, the guy wouldn’t let him. The worker was dead-set on not helping the Americans, apparently, and we think he spoke English but just really didn’t want to help (mostly because he refused to let the Italian guy translate for us).
So the Italian guy figured out what was going on, didn’t “directly” translate for us, but told us afterwards what the deal was, so Olivia and Kate went to buy tickets from Padova to Bologna, then Bologna to Florence. Before we knew what time the train left, Lexi left to use the restroom, but we found out that our train was supposed to come within minutes. With one minute left, Kate ran to get Lexi (across the station), but Lexi popped out next to us, so Kate was gone with no clue that Lexi was now with us, so I chased after Kate, but I couldn’t find Kate, so I ran around the station looking for her (keep in mind, we literally only had seconds to find each other); I was PLOWING through crowds and apologizing profusely (and Scusi’ing), and turns out Kate had just run back to the station (which I didn’t know; I thought she was still looking for Lexi), expecting that Lexi had gone back, so I ran the entire way around the station to find Kate and ended up hoping that she had made it back to the train alright, so I turned back for the train, and I saw everyone getting on, so I hopped on as well.
Thankfully, despite the stress from barely missing the next train and getting split from the group in a country whose language I don’t know, and missing every other train that we should have caught earlier in the day, the train from Padova to Bologna to Florence was surprisingly good.
After a long day of stress, hunger, and mostly frustration, we finally made it to Florence at around 10:00 ish. So we stopped at the Airbnb, dropped our stuff, and went to get food.
And WOW, it was good. I got a pizza with cooked cheese and salami, and it was phenomenal. Finally, around midnight, we settled in for the night.
We woke up late on Friday to check out the city. Most of the trip, we just wandered around and stumbled upon whatever we happened to find, which I really enjoyed. Since I’ve been to Florence before, it was cool to see the same spots I’d seen with my family, and remember how to get places from my last trip. It was a weird sort of déjà vu, but knowing some of the city layout was also a lot of fun. For most of Friday, we just wandered around and did whatever we could; most of the museums were PACKED (i.e. 5-7 hour wait times – who would have guessed it’d be so packed in November?), so we went to the leather markets (which Caitlin got yelled at for exposing a jacket that was fake leather), and checked out a leather store (Caitlin and Lexi had both taken classes on how to spot real versus fake leather, so they were our “guides” on finding real leather). I bought some souvenirs, and we spent more of the day wandering around. It was a lot of fun, with a good group of people, and the food was, of course, delicious. I spent most of the day taking pictures and testing out my camera, but I didn’t keep a lot of them unfortunately, but here are a few:
We ended up eating in on Friday night, just buying some bread, meat, and cheese, then everyone went to watch a movie, so I went out and explored the city. Eventually, another group of UP students that were going to Rome and Florence texted me and we all went out to an Irish pub thing, and then to this bar called “Brewdog” which was a lot of fun. We played Jenga and met a bunch of students from UCSD, one of whom was studying political science and worked for Senator Kamala Harris, so we talked politics for HOURS. It was a ton of fun, and it was nice to hang out with the other group of UP students who I hadn’t traveled with. It was a really good time!
So the next morning, Saturday, we had to wake up really early to get to the Ufizzi before the line started (the workers said to get there at 7:30 even though it opened at 8:15), but despite how early we were, the line was still 2 hours long. I got some time to take pictures while we were there, which was pretty nice:
So Caitlin, who’d been to the Uffizi, Max, and I all went to check out the Accademia because I really wanted to see the David again. But the line for that was also 2-3 hours long, so we ditched the idea entirely and went out to get coffee and check out the Boboli Garden. Turns out the line for the Boboli Garden was also 2-3 hours long, so we were heartbroken and defeated, and decided to wander around aimlessly. Just as we thought all hope was up and that we should head back, we found a side entrance to the Boboli Garden with a 10-15 minute wait (it was really out of the way, but it worked regardless). So we waited in line, and finally something went right!
And I’m so glad that we found that side entrance, because the garden was amazing. It had a beautiful view of Florence from the top, and we just totally got lost in the best way. It was such a mood-lifter and it was absolutely fantastic.
After this, we walked around town and met up with the group who stayed at the Uffizi, and we all got lunch. We wandered around town more, and went out to dinner, then everyone headed back to the Airbnb, and everyone wanted to watch another movie, so I went out to take pictures at night, mostly of the Ponte Vecchio. I was shooting in manual, and I was actually really happy with how some of them came out:
After this, I went back to the Airbnb, and turns out they didn’t end up watching the movie, so Kate, Olivia, Max, and I ended up having a really nice conversation for hours on the balcony of our Airbnb, and we talked about ER horror stories (Kate had done work with an ER), family/how much we missed them, funny stories from home, and so much more. It was really nice and it was a lot of fun to share family stories and hear theirs, or to share stories about my friends from back home and to hear their stories about their best friends. It was really wholesome and it made me realize just how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family, and such good friends, in Salzburg, Portland, and Sacramento.
After a few hours of talking, we headed to bed, because we had an early train back to the ‘Burg in the morning.
Thankfully, those trains were much smoother, but unfortunately on one of the longer trains (around 2.5 hours), EVERY single seat was taken, so we resorted to standing in between cars. Lexi ventured out to see if we could find any seats, and she eventually found an unreserved sleeper cabin (a 6 person room) filled with the group of 4 other UP people who went to Rome and Florence (there were only 2 unreserved cabins, and this was one of them! So we wouldn’t be kicked out/deseated!). So Kate and Lexi went in that car, and they all invited me in by scooting in to fit me in, so I hung out there for a while and waited until the cabin next door emptied out, and eventually all of us got seats. Thankfully, I got some pictures, but there was also glare, but hopefully these show just how gorgeous the train rides were:
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the original valley I fawned over, but the ride was gorgeous nevertheless. I also got to walk over the Austria-Italy border!
Anyways, minus the HORRIBLE travel to Florence, it was a fantastic trip nevertheless. I love Florence and the people I traveled with, and it was a great experience with great people.
Well, that’s all for now.
Con amore da Firenze/Mit Liebe aus Florenz,
Italian: “Scusi” = English: “Excuse me”
German: “gar nichts” = English: “Absolutely nothing”
“Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic. No reason, but this song has been stuck in my head all weekend. The guitar is incredible.
No photo dump for this one! Most of my decent photos have been posted already on this one – I took a lot of videos because I’m making a video project for Fine Arts, which I’ll end up posting on my blog when it’s finished. But it’s coming along very nicely!