This morning we arrived in Florence around 9 a.m. We were on our train from Prague from abou 5 p.m. until almost midnight, when we switched in the Munich train station. That, so far, has been the most surreal of our experiences in Europe. On the train to Munich, I had been stretched out on some empty seats sleeping. Nathan woke me up when we pulled into Munich and we quickly gathered our things and detrained and learned out Florence train was on the other side of the station. As we quickly hauled our bags across the station, we were passed on all sides by streaming masses of young German Frauen und Herren in traditional German dress and lederhosen. Oktoberfest was supposed to have ended the day before; my theory is that the festival stays open an extra day for those who worked it, and the Bier drinking goes on ... I was half asleep through all this and kind of disoriented. I pulled out my little camera to try to capture at least one of these groups of crazy bier drinkers, but it was temporarily not working. So I'll never know if it was all just a dream...
From Munich we were in a car with a set of bunk beds, so we slept (surprisingly well) on our way to Florence. We took a cab from the train station to our hotel and were lucky to find our room ready, we checked in and showered and then set off to explore for the day. I was starving, and luckily we found a place that sold big, delicious slices of pizza for 2.50 Euros. In our wanderings we saw more African guys selling knock-off handbags and sunglasses than just about anything else. Well, except tourists, of course. My guidebook says Florence has about 320,000 residents and 9 million visitors per year. We passed over the 'gold bridge', which houses dozens of jewelry sellers. Shopping appears to be the favorite past time here. The tourist guide brochures even advertise guided, all-day shopping tours. I think maybe you can get some good deals here, if you're so inclined; designer jeans that would probably cost about $150 at Nordstrom are about 50 euros here.
On our way back to the hotel, Nathan commented that the city seemed dead outside of the tourist center. That was around 2 p.m. After resting at the hotel and venturing back out around6, we realized that we had been seeing the long lunch break; at 6 things were happening. So I guess the ideal schedule is : mornings at a musuem, than lunch, then a nap from 2-4, then shopping, then dinner!
Florence is very walkable, and our hotel is outside the city center, which I think is beneficial in that it shows us a more authentic Florence neighborhood as we walk back from meals, sightseeing and such. It is absolutely a lovely city.
Tonight we ate at a terrific restaurant that was recommended in the guidebook. I tried tripe, which is supposed to be a Florentine specialty. It was ok. I think Nathan's veal was better.
Tomorrow we hope to get up early and go to one of the famous museums before the que gets too long.