August 24, 2015





A whole day of sightseeing


Even though we had gone to bed late we were up early again. By 8am I was walking to the bakery we had passed on the way back to our apartment the day before to get some breakfast rolls. The skies had been light grey when I walked the 3 minutes to the bakery but when I was on the way back it started to rain.

So I hotfooted it back to our place and soon we were sitting at the breakfast table enjoying a lot of the same things we had had for dinner the day before. After breakfast we cleaned up and were ready to leave, but when we looked out the window we saw that it was raining, not just drizzle, but it was raining buckets. We had planned on taking sightseeing tours on hop on hop off buses, which I had already bought tickets for, but neither of us was in the mood to brave the rain, so we stayed in and rested in front of the TV. At around 11am the rain let off and we walked up the street to the bus stop of the hop on hop off bus. It was halfway around the loop and we decided to just stay on for one and a half loops.

We could not believe our luck when we got on the bus and found several empty rows on the top deck. We settled in and enjoyed the ride all through the outer perimeter of the city, which follows the “ring” and even crosses into it in some places.

The sightseeing loop covers most of the sights of Florence and when we had gotten closest to the center a lot of people got off and we changed seats to the first row. Now our view was even better. It took us past some of the most famous sights like some of the museums, the Ponte Veccio and the Palazzo Veccio and the Piazzale Michelangelo, where we had an awesome view over the whole city.

A loop takes about an hour, so about 12.30 we got off the bus at the main train station and walked into the center. We had a walking tour booked which was about to start in an hour, so we were in search for somewhere to just have a drink and use a restroom. We walked around a bit and past some possible stops, but somehow it was not what we were looking for. After a while we came across a poster that advertised the Hard Rock Café. Our meeting place for the walking tour was the Hard Rock Café, so we headed that way. Took a bit of searching around, but finally we found it and asked if they had open seats. Sure they did and since we only wanted a drink we chose seats at the bar.

We had just settled in when a server handed us a menu and we started picking out our treats. Tom picked a sampler, the Air Mexico, three signature mini Margheritas, made with Silver Tequila and Cointreau Orange Liqueur and served with a personal sized serving of corn chips and salsa. You were allowed to choose three flavours and Tom chose, watermelon, Mango and cucumber. I wanted to try the Pineapple Coconut Mojito, Bacardi Superior Rum, Pina Colada Mix, pineapple, mint and lime topped with club soda and toasted coconut. We watched them mix our drinks and soon we were enjoying our lovely treats. It was nice to sit there and listen to the music and the drinks were really good.

It got close to the time when we needed to be at the meeting point for our walking tour, so we made a quick restroom stop, paid the bar tender and walked outside. And it was then that we noticed someone with a Disneystore bag. I had completely forgotten to check if there was one in Florence. There were some people waiting a few steps over and someone was ticking off names from a list, so we walked over and asked if this was where we had to check in for our tour. Yip, we were right there.

She ticked our names off her list and told us to step aside and wait there. Within a minute or two a young man came over and told us we were his group. We were a bit stunned as we were on the young ladies list, but the young man just insisted. He went to tell us that the young lady was doing the German tour, but he was the one doing the English one. And now it dawned on me. Whenever there are tours, I usually sign up for an English one, as the chance of one forming is usually higher. I had signed up for an English tour and here we were. And our guide told us right away, that it was only the two of us and we were good to go. So we walked over to a piazza and were looking at a model of the city.

And while he was explaining the model the guide asked where we were from and was surprised when we told him that we were from Austria. There was a short conversation about why we had signed up for an English tour and he let his colleague know that his group had just turned into a German one as well, but he was happy to have the private group. He was very good at explaining everything, very knowledgeable when it came to history and he was a pleasure to listen too. We walked over to the Duomo, then headed into the very old historic part of the city where we were treated to the Medici chapel.

And he explained how the houses around a yard were like their own little community. He pointed out a few other places of interest, walked us through the free, outside parts of some museums and finally took us to the Ponte Veccio. We had been following him around for the better part of two hours and neither of us could believe that time had flown by that fast. So after handing our guide a nice tip we had one last question and it was if he could point us towards the Disney Store, which we definitely wanted to visit after checking out the Ponte Veccio area a little more. And after saying our goodbyes we walked back and forth over the Ponte Veccio, enjoyed some of the views and did some window shopping.

After that we headed towards the town center again and passed a Pandora Store. I really love to have momentos of the cities we go to, so in we went to ask if there were some Florence specific beads. Needless to say there were. I picked the one I liked the most and the saleswoman offered to add it to my bracelet right away. I gave it to her and she called some of the other saleswomen over to show them that my bracelet was a Disney Parks one.

They went kind of crazy over all the Disney beads. Later, they noticed that I missed some spacers on my new bracelet, so they showed me some they had and we got two as I needed them anyway. Purchases in hand we moved on and it started to drizzle again. We still wanted to find the Disney Store and walked in that direction and after a few more minutes and some looking around we finally found it. Like most of the European Disney Store it was a small store, but it was nicely done. Lots of paintings on the walls and arches in the room and they even had some Florence specific merchandise. We picked up a few things and when we got outside it had started to lightly rain again.

So, that meant that it was time for us to head back to our apartment. We had the choice of either walking home for about 40 minutes in the rain or head over to the railway station which was about 8 minutes away and use the sightseeing bus to get back to our apartment. The sightseeing bus won. We walked over to the railway station and got in line and within 5 minutes a bus arrived. We did not even bother to go and sit upstairs as by now it had started to rain even more, so we just sat there and waited for the bus to leave. A few minutes later we were on our way. It took about 20 minutes to get to the stop that was closest to La Farina apartments.

We got off, stopped for bread at the bakery and headed back to our lovely “home”. We rested for a while, while watching a little TV, then had another “picnic” dinner which yummy things that were hiding in our fridge. We then packed up most of our stuff and took it down to the car, so we would not have to do it all in the morning. Work done we had a well deserved drink out of the fridge and then spent the rest of the evening in front of the TV.