Saturday, April 30, 2005

4/30 Day 8: Venice to Florence

(pictures of the apartment, and the view from the balcony)

Today started early, since my head cold turned into an acute earache in the middle of the night. Wed’ planned to sleep in, check out, and make our way the 15 minutes or so to the station, in time for our 12:30 train to Florence. Instead, I got up when the pain became unbearable around 6:30 am, and my poor mom got up too as we faced having to try to find a doctor in Venice, on a Saturday, who could see us before our scheduled departure.

Packed our stuff up and went back to the hotel office, waiting at a cafĂ© in the campo for the owner to come back, since it was suggested that he’d be better able to advise how to find a doctor. I managed to pop my jaw and ear enough to turn a sharp constant pain into a dull constant pain, and we decided to try lots of water and some decongestants. Easier said than done, since most of the pharmacies are closed Saturday, and the don’t sell these things at grocery stores like they do in the US. I gave up, but found a pharmacy at the last minute a few steps from the train station. Thankfully, the pharmacist knew enough English to understand and give me what I wanted. At least, I think he did.

(picture of a market on a boat in one of the small canals)

(my mother and I on the vaporetti--the water bus)
Spent several hours waiting in the train station. Our train was scheduled to leave at 12:32, so we sat in a waiting room with TV’s showing Arrivals and Departures, train number, destination/origin, time, and platform. Lots of trains going in and out or Florence. One every 5 or 10 minutes, arrivals and departures. All is well, and we are in the zone! Around 11:00, I noticed that no new trains were showing up after 11:17 on the TV’s. Odd. By 11:20 or so, it was clear that trains were still coming and gong every few minutes, but the information was no longer being updated. Beautiful. Around 12:20, we went looking f or our platform, and all of the many signs and screens in the vast station were also stale. Trains are coming and going with no info. WTF?!?! Finally, about 10 minutes before our scheduled departure, the displays started rolling through updates. We got our train, sat down, and rolled out with about 3 minutes to spare. Fucking Eyetalian train agents?!?! Taking a lunch break, sure, but is it so important that they have to get a thousand people lost?

Chatted with a man traveling with his son on the train to Florence, and arrived around 3:30. Couldn’t make sense of the buses, but found the tourist office where we got a map. And hiked. Florence is much warmer, like, yuck. We both hate hot and sunny.

It was a disaster trying to find the bed & breakfast place. We did meet a sweet old eyetalian lady who was delighted to find that we were American and offered up a Watchtower—in German. She spoke no English at all (Italian only), and seemed to believe either: A.) the magazines were in English, or B.) that Americans read German. My mother tried to explain, but it was clearly pointless, so I just accepted it and thanked her profusely.

The room is in a woman’s flat and pretty nice. The best is a chocolatier 1 1/2 blocks away. (Hemingway) So far, the food we’ve had here has –not- been very good. But this chocolate is like, transcendental.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll feel better, and we should get to a good walking tour of Florence. The museums are, for the most part, closed for Labor Day, so we’ll just enjoy what we can outside. Assuming I can stay out of the ER for once.

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