The experience on the night train isn’t exactly one I’d care to repeat. I suppose the error there was that we only had a compartment that we were sharing with two other people, which made me feel like I was in Harry Potter, which was fun for like 3 minutes. But really not at all comfortable. But we survived the night. Arriving the in early hours to the train station in Florence, Maura and I sat in the coffee shop for a long bit while we waited for the city to come to life. That was alright though, because we found ourselves surrounded by a large group of Korean tourists who were having a great load of fun filming themselves eating various pastries and coffees. People who film their vacations soon became a high point of travel for Maura and I and I would like to believe that our presence in these various locales throughout Europe has been forever preserved in the many, many home videos that we took it upon ourselves to star in. But back to Florence.

            I found Florence rather difficult to navigate- we spent a while trying to find a hostel that the tourist office recommended to us. That was probably the sketchiest place we stayed, but it worked out ok- I didn’t lose sleep over anything. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we were there on a Friday and people were still on Easter holidays, but Florence was packed. We considered seeing the Statue of David, but the line was ages long and it really didn’t appeal to me. But feeling like we needed some sort of artistic cultural experience, we went to the Uffizi gallery. My appreciation for art, however, is not exactly refined. It was enjoyable for a few minutes, but not worth the build- up. Learning experience nonetheless. There was a really cool church in the center of the city – the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. The intent of the architect was to make it so detailed and ornate that there was no way anyone could ever add to it.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

            The Basilica and the Ponte Vecchio were probably my two favorites in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge that has all these shops on it, mostly jewelry. Imagine the cost for that storefront! After crossing the bridge into the shop-ier  area, we went to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. Which was an expensive admission fee (alright, all of Florence was expensive- that was probably the most expensive place we went. No, not probably, definitely. This is where planning would have come in handy a bit. Live and learn, right?) The gardens were nice, mainly because I took a nap in the sunshine. I would have spent several hours there, but unfortunately they closed even before sunset. Maura and I wandered to get some dinner and the sun began to set on Florence. The city was more pleasant after sunset- the massive crowds had backed down and there were some nice street performers. Exhausted, however, we didn’t last too long and it was back to the hostel early.

Ponte Vecchio

            We shared the room in the hostel with two Canadian girls who were backpacking for 5 months. To our slightly travel –weary souls after the day in Florence, these girls really helped turn us around. You can’t have a perfect day every day. Not everything is what you will expect, but you take the good with the bad and enjoy the experience. After a good night’s sleep, we headed out to Venice the next day with chins a little higher.

            Initially, my impression was that I wish we hadn’t even bothered with Florence. It was dirty and expensive and wasn’t ‘pretty’ like I had expected. But I can’t regret it- looking back; it was neat to see once. I’m not headed back, and I’m not recommending it to anyone, but it taught me to give things a proper chance and not to judge first thing. The world traveler has to persevere through good and bad. I am not a world traveler, but I learned a thing or two, and I’m glad I had the experience of Florence.