Hello from Florence, Italy!
We made it out of Paris this morning on the 8:04 am train bound for Milan. From Milan we connected to Florence where we have arrived and checked in to a real hotel (our own room, own bathroom, towels, breakfast, wifi, etc). After 5 nights in hostels I could no longer take the smell and snores. I’m not kidding. Last night in Paris we were in a 6 person dorm room and the other 4 people were no shows at 2:30 am when I woke up thinking it was 7 already. At 4:30 am two of them came waltzing in, wreaking of alcohol and promptly passed out into a deep, drunken sleep. Then the snoring began. I don’t think you can even call it snoring, as I have NEVER heard anything like this. After an hour of having my iPod on super loud I decided to just get up and get Mike up (he was already awake, I’m telling you, this snoring was unbelievable). So we took showers, packed, and headed for Gare de Lyon (train) and managed to get tickets all the way to Florence. A great feat after 2 days of strikes and limited service.
Yesterday was pretty much a complete waste, with the exception of getting some laundry done. We got to Gare de Lyon to see if we could get tickets out of Paris, and they told us the best bet was to come back tomorrow (today) and get tickets. By the time we had walked to the train, got to GDL, got back to the hostel, the whole day was a wash (no pun intended).
The train ride from Paris to Milan was awesome. Amazing mountains and scenery, hard to believe some of the houses we saw half way up HUGE mountains. At the border station in Modane (? I think), 2 men were escorted off our train. That was really the only excitement of the day, and that’s just how I like it. When we changed trains we were seated with 3 women from Chicago on a “girls trip”. My mother would be jealous – they are headed for a Tuscan villa for a week!! They left the husbands at home and came to Paris and Tuscany. It was great to just be able to talk to other English-speaking people!
So we are now staying at “Hotel Corona” in Florence and we are here for 3 nights. We just had Pizza and Wine at a REAL Italian restaurant…as in a restaurant in Italy. Not Scalinis or Olive Garden!!! They have house wine ON TAP!!! We can’t explain it, but Mike and I both already feel more comfortable here in Italy than we did in Paris. I don’t know if it’s because it seems there’s more English spoken here, or if it’s because there is no strike (!) or if it’s because of the things you hear about Parisians….but I think we are going to have a great 10 days here in Italy.
Our current tentative plan is to stay here until the 23rd. The morning of the 23rd we’ll get the train to Pisa, see the leaning tower, and then get on a train bound for Rome. There’s a train that leaves at 5 pm that would be ideal…it gets in to Rome at 8 pm and goes down the coast. I imagine sunset over the coast would be beautiful! Then we’ll head to Zurich around the 29th and spend a couple of days in Zurich and do a day trip to Lucern before heading back to the States on November 2nd.
We know this is a great experience for us but we sure do miss some luxuries from home. Hope you’re all doing well. Love to you all!