Ah, Florence. We arrived there and made the short four block trek to our Hostel Archi Rossi, which offered free breakfast (you choose off a menu), free pasta/pizza dinner and free internet (trust me, we learned later in our trip that free internet and six computers was quite a treat!).
Here we shared a room with four other women, the room was clean, we had a bathroom in our room and we each had lockers. One of these extra women was a fortysomething German lady who spends part of her year in Vancouver, BC and the other part in Germany or traveling. She was sarcastic and hilarious. We ended up running into her at our next stop, the Cinque Terre.
After dumping our bags, we quickly made our way to the center of town, (which I believe I mentioned while I was there), grabbed a bottle of wine at a little wine shop and headed to the steps of the Duomo (old gothic church) to people watch. The Duomo square shown here is where everyone from tourists to local business professionals to young people walk through or hang out on their way to somewhere else. It was a great place to see the fashion and simply do some serious people watching.
The great thing about Europe is that you just meet people wherever you are. Luckily, guys didn't cat call us like I had expected, but they did easily chat us up on the streets, in the subways and on the steps of the Duomo. We spent about 20 min talking to these young guys and attempting to explain what A's job means (she's an accountant - gotta love the language barrier!)
First thing on our full day in Florence, we headed to check out the impressive David sculpture and other Michaelangelo pieces at the Uffizi museum. After grabbing some Italian pastries, we set off on our own tour of Florence by renting bikes for 7 euro each for the day. The great thing we discovered about the bike is that you get to explore so much more of a city you wouldn't have time for on foot, especially when you're just visiting for a few days like we were. AND, Europeans actually look out for and respect bicycles so even though we were clueless at points as to where we were going, drivers were patient and careful.
Thanks to my guide book, we biked our way to this awesome little gelato shop tucked away in some random sidestreet (as everything seems to be in Europe). For dinner I think we just ended up taking advantage of the free (and not so awesome) pizza at the hostel. Late that night we took the hike up to the top of this hill (i think sort of in the vacinity of this photo) that over looks the whole city. We found so many awesome wine bars and restaurants that we knew we would want to find again someday if we come back. And as we walked across the pedestrian bridge over the river, there was a man playing the accordian as lovers sat enjoying the evening. It was just one of those perfect Italian moments. And the buildings and alley ways and random cathedrals...Italy, you're good at that.
The morning we left Florence to head to the Cinque Terre (the place I'd been dreaming of for a while), A had to get a snack inside the McDonald's in the Train Station. I must admit, I despise fast food. I avoid it like the plague. BUT, I did have one grilled chicken salad at the McDonald's in a train station on our way to France and it was one of the better salads I've ever had. No joke, I think European's require better quality of products...produce, cheese, everything! Take a look at Annie's fried spinach/cheese blobs and her espresso! I just had to take a pic.
Next up: Cinque Terre! The most quaint little beautiful slice of heaven you could ever imagine.