Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Travelling to Florence

We wake and pack up.  Today we are travelling to Florence. When searching for options for transport to Florence we had a few options.  I knew driving would not be one of them. In fact driving here scares the crap out of me.

Train travel was a definite option but would require changing trains in Pisa. Federico had mentioned that they often use a bus service called Flixbus that operates all over Europe.  Very reasonable rates, nice buses, free wifi and frequent service. 

We say goodbye -- it is sad, we will really miss these guys.

Andrea drives us to the pick up spot for the bus and we say goodbye. Andrea is a lovely man and I am so glad Federico has found him.

We catch the 10 am Flixbus to Florence - total cost 9.50 E each.The ride takes three hours but very comfortable. The route is direct and at 1300 we arrive right near the train station in Florence.

Dragging our suitcases along the narrow Florence streets packed with locals and tourists is not easy but thankfully we packed light and we are able to each manage one of the bags and Bernie also handles the small roller bag, but it is still a game of frogger.  

Our accommodations are not far - around a five minute walk from the train station. We booked our accommodations thru AirBnB.  This is the first time we have used this service, so lets see how it goes.

If you want to try them out and receive a travel credit of $40 Canadian click here and sign up and when you do your first trip you will get the discount.

We arrive and after some scrambling thru papers for five minutes because darn where did I write which apartment it was (there are three to choose from and I don't want to buzz the wrong one).  

The location is perfect - one block from the market, five blocks from the train station, we can walk everywhere.  It is close enough to all the sites but on a quiet street that is lined with scooter parking.  

The building is a four story with an apartment on each level.  Our apartment thankfully is on the second floor so only one flight of stairs to go up. 

We meet up with host Sabrina and her son who shows us the apartment.  We are early - check in was 1400 but we were told it would be okay to drop our bags and get the key while they cleaned up. Sabrina is still busy cleaning up from the previous guest and she keeps apologizing that the place is not ready.  Oh no don't be sorry we are early.  Her English is minimal but she tries hard, and we feel bad we don't speak more Italian; however her son speaks excellent English as I fumble with the few words I know. Remember I am in Italy, they speak Italian, I don't expect them to know my language but am grateful when they know some English and appreciate when they listen to my butchered Italian.

The apartment is exactly like the pictures online. A one bedroom with lots of storage, large modern bathroom, large kitchen with all the necessary items we need (oh a toaster was missed), living room, dining area, fast wifi and huge tv. Bernie is excited and I even catch him watching Italian shows at times throughout our stay - he must really miss tv.

Sabrina welcomes us and offers us a bottle of local Chianti and a bowl of pomegranates that come from their farm. Wow pomegranates one of my favorites and so fresh!

Note we need to pay the tourist tax that is common throughout Italy at all accommodations (paid it last year too).  It is due in cash and is 3 E per person per day.

We get a bit settled and then head out for a quick bite to eat.  We don't go far before we spot a pizza place just around the corner - Simbiosi is the name.  It serves locally sourced items that are fresh - in fact the signs all over the restaurant state the food item and where it is from and when it was produced.  

Wine, pizza, what more do you we need!  We are happy.  

Oh well one thing we need is a nap.  We are tired, and we can both tell our patience is wearing down. We need to buy some groceries first. One great thing about having the apartment is we can make breakfast each morning and get something for some light snacks in the afternoon. 

A small grocery store is right across from the restaurant (note you won't find the big American type groceries stores here).  We pick up some cereal, milk, juice, fruit, cheese and we are good.  No we need --- Wine!  But right across the street from our apartment is one of the local wine producers.  You know the kind we like - were you bring your bottle and they fill it up.  We buy two bottles and fill them up with some of their house wines.

Back at the apartment we both crash.  After a good two hour nap we wake feeling refreshed.  

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