Friday morning, we got up super early to get to Florence for tours. We toured the Uffizi gallery and saw the Ponte Vecchio and I just admired the art. Sometimes it all kind of runs together because there is so much to see and everything is beautiful. Here, I really enjoyed seeing how the art and styles have changed over time.
We had breakfast on the terrace, toured some more and then made our way to a square for lunch. The squares are one of my favorite parts of Italy. Eating outside, the open space, the people watching… It was all great. It was raining but it was alright. I ate wonderful vegetable soup and then we headed to the Duomo. We had tickets to tour the Duomo with the option to climb to the top. Well, that is what I thought anyway. When we got there, I found out that the tour IS climbing the steps, 463 to be exact. The first thing I thought was, where is my inhaler?
When we got there, I walked in with everyone else but immediately felt that the air was stale in there and it was a very small space. I just knew this was going to be a problem but I was going to do it anyway. Karrie just kept saying “you can do it,” in her special encouraging way. As the passages got smaller and the number of people increased, I really knew this was going to be a problem. We stopped at some point and went in to an inside balcony where we could see the paintings inside the dome. We were so high up but I knew we were still going higher. Ah!
At one point, Linda looked at me and asked if I was okay. I replied with yes. She said, “okay, it just looks like panic in your face.” I said, “because I’m panicking.” That got a good laugh after it was all over. We kept climbing though and finally reached the top.
Now, I am scared of heights. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to get over it so I went to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado, I did a zip lining adventure in PA and I went parasailing in Key West.
Anyway, those things helped with my fear of heights but here I am on top of this huge dome in Italy and I can’t believe I made it. It was not the best weather but the views were amazing.
I had made dinner plans with my aunt and uncle and their friends who were on their way to Florence. When I made it back to the bottom of the duomo steps, it was time to go. I asked Karrie where the parking garage was where we parked the car so I could get my bag. We didn’t have any information except the name of a restaurant on the corner nor did we have a ticket for the car. We discussed and debated for a while and I just said I would find it.
Well, I found the train station. How did I end up at the train station? I didn’t have my gps set up but I went ahead and did it now, but my phone battery was already down to 40%. That isn’t good.
So, I just got in the taxi line and got in a cab. When I told the cabdriver that I needed to go to a restaurant, he looked at me and said something like, do you know how many restaurants are here? Okay, so that was pretty stupid. So, I googled and my battery was already down to 20% and going fast. He ended up being very nice and agreed to take me to the parking garage and wait for me, and then take me to my aunt and uncle’s hotel. We found the restaurant, and then found the parking garage, and that’s when it gets funny. Remember, Karrie told me she didn’t have the ticket. So, I walk into the parking garage like they’re just going to give me the key to the car without it. The guy starts yelling at me in Italian and then finally says that I need to at least have a ticket number. I can tell the cabdriver is trying not to laugh and I am just arguing with this parking garage attendant because I am desperate. So, he asks me what kind of car we have. My response is, “I don’t know.”
Naturally, he starts yelling in Italian again. I am just standing there completely defeated not knowing what to do next. Then, I remember that the day before we had taken a picture in front of the rental car. I got so excited and pulled the picture up and showed him so he could see what kind of car it was.
I think he just wanted me gone at this point so he took me into the basement of the parking garage and we looked around every car. It was not there. I started to think that I was in the wrong garage but surely I wasn’t because I found that restaurant. When we came back upstairs, the cabdriver was just leaning against his car with a smirk on his face. I didn’t mind providing him entertainment because he was still waiting for me, so I said, “go ahead, laugh, it’s funny,” and he did. We finally found the car and I grabbed my bag, put a pair of boots on and pulled my phone charger to put in my purse. I only had the chord so I would have to find a plug and converter but anything is possible when you believe, right?
I got to the hotel (which I literally walked right by before I got to the train station and didn’t notice) and had a good laugh with the cab driver, gave him a substantial tip and went on my way. My uncle text me that he was waiting for me in the lobby but I’m in the lobby and he’s not here. I showed the woman at the desk the hotel name and address information to confirm that I was at the right hotel and she said yes. So, I paced and I waited and then I text him. He said he was in the lobby. “But I’m in the lobby,” I said out loud.
Long story short, I went to the wrong hotel and now, figuring that out took me to 6% battery. He told me the name of the right hotel and as I walked out to the Square to find a taxi, my phone died. I just kept saying the name of the hotel over and over and over again so I didn’t forget it. But my mind was fighting it with another thought:
I am lost in Florence, Italy and I don’t have anyone’s phone number and no one knows where I am.
Do not freak out, don’t freak out, do not freak out, DO NOT FREAK OUT. OH MY GOSH, I’M FREAKING OUT. DON’T FREAK OUT. Think of the hotel. Don’t forget the hotel. Okay, there’s a taxi.
He was letting people out at the hotel. So I asked him to take me and he said no.
Driver: “no local.”
Me: “please take me to hotel”
Driver: “no. No local”
Part of me didn’t understand, and the other part did not want to accept it. I still do not understand what he meant by no local, but he was saying that I couldn’t get in his car and had to go to a taxi stand. Finally, I ask where the taxi stand is and he pointed down the street so I run (remember that I put on my boots so I now have heels on). I am running through the streets of Florence with a backpack full of clothes and shoes, and a bottle of wine I got from Chianti for my aunt and uncle. I am still trying to calm myself down when I get to the taxi stand and then I realized that the taxis pick up on the other side of the street. “That is my taxi,” I’m saying as the man gets in it.
“Okay… remember the hotel,” I say to myself… But I forget the hotel. My phone is dead, I don’t know where I am, I just ran and it is so hot and I forget the hotel. The woman driving the cab was so helpful, and after her naming all of the hotels in the area, I finally recognized the one when she said it. She also got a substantial tip.
I was so happy to see everyone when I finally got there. I was a sweaty mess but my aunt assured me that I looked fine. I needed that! They wanted to find a few stores so we walked for a while. My poor feet! My legs felt like jelly from the duomo steps and the cross country run to the taxi stand (it was only about a block in reality) and then we walked so far! I was so glad to sit down for dinner when we made it. I absolutely loved getting to spend time with them in Italy. My uncle and I share about our love for cooking and our love for vino so it was perfect for us to (unintentionally) end up in Italy at the same time.
I do not want to relive the debacle of getting back to the parking garage to meet Karrie and Linda but when we got home, I quickly realized that there were no heels left on my boots. I wore them completely off! It was worth it for that special time with all four of them though!
Saturday morning, we had to get up very early to get back to Florence to catch the train. I was so sad and trying to think of any way to stay in Tuscany. I literally had to say goodbye to my hammock.
The train was a challenge as expected but we made it to Rome, found the hotel and I went to sleep.