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Travel Thoughts on a Friday

Thank God is Friday.

I've been waiting for it since Tuesday. (I normally say Monday, but since I was flying back home on Monday and not at work, Tuesday will have to do.)

And since it is Friday, and I am in the mood for writing, I have to say I am in love.

Yes, boys and girls, I am in love with a city. And that city is Florence. In fact, this Italian town has become one of my favorite places on the planet, right up there with Berlin. And I have seen plenty of towns, believe me.

Florence is a medieval city that is living in modern times. However, because it was built in the Middle Ages, it was not meant to have cars in it. Therefore, there are very few, and you walk everywhere. The fact that everything is nearby is a plus, and you will develop leg muscles like nobody's busines in no time at all.

Our hotel, Il Perseo, was absolutely awesome and, wouldn't you know it, right accross from the venue where the conference was taking place. If we had planned it that way, it would not have been more perfect. Plus the management spoke English and, when they didn't, they went out of their way to help you out and figure out what you needed. They even helped me book some reservations at various museums beforehand, and their prices were reasonable too. Breakfast included and, in the evening, a snack and wine tasting too. (Not that I ever took advantage of the latter, but it is nice to know that it was available.)

Being close to the conference was great. Being a block or two away from the Duomo was even better on account of always been able to find the hotel no matter where I went. You see, the Duomo is a gigantic structure that can be seen basically from anywhere in the city. Therefore, if you find the Duomo, you find the hotel.

Either that, or the underwear store next to it.

"Look! It's the green thong!"

"Yeah! We found our place! Whooo Hoooo!"

(I was determined to buy the green thong as a memento, but alas, I didn't have time to do it. Too much to see, to shop and to eat in too little time.)

(Next time, I promise.)

Eating and drinking in Florence is an exercise in paradoxes. In other words, you can pay very little for food and drink, or you can pay through the nose without even thinking. It all depends on where you go, and becoming a discerning customer.

For instance, on my first day, I managed to buy lunch in the street for the grand total of 2.50 Euro for a yummy panini sandwich, 1 Euro for a bottle of water, and 2.50 for a gelatto in another place. Grand total: 6 Euro.

(Of course, I ate my sandwich sitting on the sidewalk since this was a little street joint, but who cares? Everyone else was doing it so I didn't mind. Besides, it was some damn good panini.)

That same evening, I joined a bunch of other folks who were having dinner at the Piazza della Republica. I had already eaten, so I wasn't hungry. Therefore, I joined them just for a cup of tea. The price of my tea? 7 Euro. Which means that I paid more for a cup of tea at a quaint little cafe at the Piazza, than the full lunch (with dessert!) that I got three blocks from there. (Hey, such is life and the company was great.)

However, when it came to cheap lunch, mstra_margarita and Trephina won the prize for best deal: 1.50 Euro at the Mercado Central. Ladies, I tip my hat to you.

Water, of course, was always a toss. Like it happens in most of Europe, the price of water vs. the price of alcoholic beverages is simply silly. Sometimes you pay as much (or more) for a bottle of water or a soft drink than you do for a glass of wine or a beer. On the other hand, I paid as little of .70 cents for a bottle of water (Palazzo Vecchio vending machine) to 2.50 Euro at a restaurant. It all depends on where you go. All I have to say is, thank goodness for protein bars. They can provide a quick pick-me-up to a tired and hungry tourist when there is no eatery in sight or time to look for one.

As for the people, they were polite and nice, and the place felt so safe it wasn't even funny. For a lone traveller like myself (Marcellus wasn't travelling with me), it made all the difference in the world. Even on Sunday evening, when everyone else had left town, and I had stayed on my own since my flight did not depart until next morning, I felt very confident about walking all over at night, and having dinner by myself at a quaint little restaurant a couple of blocks away from the Piazza.

I soooo want to go back . . .

I will be posting later on the actual conference and the things I have learned from it. Suffice to say that I picked apart my Medici ruff as soon as I came back, and started all over. It looks much better now, and it is currently awaiting starching.

More to come.



( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
I love the Panini places. They seem to have taken over Paris (or at least I didn't notice them last time I was there). They're quick, cheap, and it's nice to have a hot lunch in November.

However, because it was built in the Middle Ages, it was not meant to have cars in it. Therefore, there are very few, and you walk everywhere.

I really want to move to Europe... *sigh*
Nov. 14th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, those panini places rock. Now I want to go back to Paris too!!!

Europe is awesome.
Nov. 14th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Florence sounds like an absolute dream. I must visit Italy at some point.
Nov. 14th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, you must. You're gonna love it.
Nov. 14th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
It's been 33 years since I was there, and I still remember it with love.

And then they still had lire.

Edited at 2008-11-14 06:17 pm (UTC)
Nov. 14th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
It's a town like no other. You wish you could take it with you.
Nov. 14th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Now you know why I love Florence so much! It really is a gorgeous place like no other. I'm glad you had such a good experience at Il Perseo, it really is a fabulous place to stay. The evening snack and wine tasting must be new, I don't recall that from the last time we were there (4 years ago). Kevin and I still fondly remember breakfast there, though. You can't get latte like that in the states (or muesli, either, for that matter).

Have I mentioned I'm totally jealous of your trip. I always want to go back there; now I REALLY want to go back!
Nov. 14th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
Well, the good news is, they were saying at the Conference that they are planning on doing this event every two years. So start getting ready! :-D
Nov. 14th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
SWEET! I will start saving my money now! :-D

I can't wait to hear more about your trip and the conference. Start writing, woman!
Nov. 14th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Will do! :-D
Nov. 14th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
My brain came to a screeching halt at the green thong! The mind boggles...
Nov. 14th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
It was a sassy little number and I am sorry I did not get to acquire it. Wonderful landmark! LOL.
Nov. 14th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can see how it would be a memorable landmark! The whole thong thing still makes no sense to me. Don't we usually try to keep clothing from going up into...well, you know what I mean! I can't get around the discomfort aspect! Too old fashioned I guess.

Will you be at Holiday Faire? I'm going to try and have the secret project done by then. Smiling...
Nov. 14th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Yes I will. Can't wait to see it!
Nov. 15th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Now I know what you need for 12th night - a thong with a laurel wreath on it ;-)

(just kidding - Please put down the knitting needles, caemfind . . . )
Nov. 16th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, I could knit one of those. But please don't make me!!!!
Nov. 16th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, a knitted green Laurel thong . . . must . . . have . . . one . . .
Nov. 16th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm.......well, maybe on the anniversary of your elevation if you're a good Laurel. Bad Laurel, no thong!
Nov. 17th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
But the trouble is, when I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm even better.

Can I haz a thong pleeeeezeeee???????
Nov. 17th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Okaaaaaaaaaay, I guess you can. But it won't be before the early part of next year I'm afraid. Too much on my plate between now and then. I'll need measurements!
Nov. 17th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
It's all right. I just thought it would be funny to have a Laurel thong. No hurry and no worries. :-D
Nov. 17th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
Well now, it's a real interesting piece of regalia!
Nov. 20th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Hubba! Hubba!
Nov. 14th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
It's true!!! There were more underwear stores than anything else and the mannequins were doing slow spins so you could see all angles of underwear for males and females! It was a great landmark to find our hotel!
Nov. 14th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Let's hear it for underwear stores! And they had nicer stuff than Victoria's Secret!
Nov. 15th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
I did tell you that food is always more expensive at restaurants facing a major piazza than it is at food around the corner or a few blocks away, right? Still, sometimes it's worth the money just for the entertainment factor :-)
Dec. 6th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
Florence is my favorite city in Europe. I've lived in Ireland and Austria, been through France and Germany and spain and England and lots of other places, and Florence is hands down the most beautiful place there. More than rome or Venice or any other Italian city, even.

I lived there for half a year with my father when I was fourteen, and I think I got imprinted somehow. :)
Dec. 6th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah. For some reason, it feels like home. I can certainly see that. :-)
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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