Just to emphasize the title of my post, let me say that, just choosing the best and most interesting ones, I came up with 30 for the first day. That's right, 30. So now I obviously have to tone that down a bit, as I don't even want to think about how much space that's going to fill. Especially seeing as how I'm sure you want at least a little information to go along with them. Maybe this time the best thing to do is start with the pre-shower half of the day as one post, and then do a second one for the newer, fresher set of photos :)
To begin, let me give a brief overview of our journey to Florence. Let me tell you first that Cheb really isn't very close to Italy. We found that the only way to get there by train was to do an overnight trip. If we'd all been thinking more quickly it would probably have been cheaper to take a bus, but we just went with what was easiest at the moment. We were super excited when, after a two hour layover (can you call it that on a train trip?) in Munich, we ended up with a car with beds in it. According to our ticket prices that shouldn't have been the case, but we sure weren't going to complain.
At first we had only one other compartment mate, a super sweet Italian guy named Cosimo who was fluent in Italian, German, and English. A nice combination since we were traveling with Jonathan (who is also fluent in Italian) and Laura's best friend Jared (who is fluent in German). Cosimo gave us some ideas of places we should visit, and was, in general, just really friendly.
I'm not exactly sure what stop we were at when Naples joined us. (Not his actual name, just the name of the city he's from.) This guy didn't seem to be fluent in any language, but that didn't stop him from talking. Even if no one was talking to him. He literally went on all night, mixing languages this way and that, and not seeming to care if we could make sense of his blabbering or not. Between that, the rather extreme heat in the car, and the little girl shouting in English "Look at ME!" for a good half an hour at 3 AM, we didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Well, except maybe for Laura, who after getting over the thrill of sleeping on a train on the way to Florence, crashed out hard.
We arrived in Florence around 6:30 in the morning, exhausted, but excited about the prospect of exploring this amazing city. The first matter of business, naturally, was finding our way to the hotel. We didn't have very clear instructions, but once we were on the right bus a really nice lady of retirement age told us when to get off, and likewise had advice about the places to see. I can't say that I was able to take in much of the offered wisdom beyond the departure point, but Jonathan actually studied in Florence for a few months several years ago, so he already knew how to get us around.
The hike up to the hostel left a bit to be desired, but once we got there the view was pretty amazing.
We were really taken with the place right away. Once we'd gotten everything paid for we were all ready to rent some towels and head for the showers. Unfortunately, unlike any other hostel I've ever stayed in, they didn't have towels for rent. Seeing as how I'd left my extra towel at home, and Laura and Jared were also without towels, we had a new mission for the morning, and none of us headed out fresh.
Despite the greasy hair and pasty skin, we were still able to enjoy the beauty of the Tuscan sunrise that greeted us when we passed through the columns of the hostel.
We started our morning off right with fresh croissants at a bakery near the center of the city, then we headed off to see what there was to see, and believe me, there was a LOT to see!
The first square Jonathan took us to was also the location of a really old orphanage. Naturally this sight really appealed to me. We never figured out exactly what the building is used for now, but we did get a chance to see the landing where babies were left by their mothers.
Despite the ridiculously greasy hair, we just couldn't manage not to have our photos taken :)
From there we began to catch glimpses of The Duomo. This building was so impressive I probably took more than 30 pictures just of it from all it's different angles. Being far from an expert, I don't want to go into a lot of detail trying to describe what the significance of this church is, but I'm sure anyone interested in knowing more can do the research :)
Can you see why I was so in awe of this place? We're talking amazing. I didn't add here the picture of the baptistery where Dante was baptized. I mean, we're talking Dante! Author of The Divine Comedy. And I saw where he was baptized for real. It was insane.
Here we have a little glimpse into the crew I was with on this trip. Here you see Jared, Laura and Jonathan in the middle of a square. The second picture is of Jonathan being Godzilla and trying to eat all of Florence. This really does give some insight :)
Well, in the end, it's been a long day already and Laura is here now so I think we're going to have dinner. I'll have to leave off with us still being all unshowered, but there is definitely more to come!