Day 64: Venice/Florence

I woke up this morning pretty early, around 8:00am, to pack up my things and get ready for my train to Venice. I typed up some blog posts in the morning, went to the train station for lunch, and then boarded my train to Florence at 1:27pm.
The train ride was really good. The train was fast, averaging 120 mph, and was air conditioned. I met two couples traveling from Los Angeles who were in Madrid for the World Cup final, in Pamplona for the running of the bulls, and then traveling through Venice, Florence, and Italy. I would have liked to go to Spain too, but it’s impossible to fit everything in.
I arrived in Florence around 3:30pm and had trouble finding my hotel. I screen captured the map on my computer, but I forgot to send it to my phone. I knew I should have gotten a cab, but didn’t feel like paying for one. Instead, I spent about 30 minutes wandering around trying to find the right street. I finally found it, but the street numbers were all messed up; the addresses would go from the 10s to 60s, and with the hotel being at Via Guelfa 41, it was near impossible to find. It also wasn’t where Google Maps said it was.
I finally ended up walking into an Indian internet café to sort things out. I went to the hotel’s website to make sure that I was looking at the right address, which I was. I found a picture of the front of the hotel on their website, which didn’t look familiar. I then came up with the idea of going on Google Street view and trying to match up the street view with the picture from the front of the hotel. I finally found it on the street view, nearly two blocks away from where Google Maps (and the hotel’s website) said it was.
I walk into my hotel and am greeted by a man at the front desk who only speaks Spanish and Italian. Apparently, multilingual on their website does not include English. I check in, drop my things off in my room, and go back to reception to figure out how to connect to the ‘complimentary wi-fi in public areas’ as stated on their website. The receptionist tells me, in broken English, that the wi-fi isn’t free and it costs 7 Euros per day. Now that isn’t a lot of money, but the wi-fi only works in the lobby and the website I booked my hotel through said that the wi-fi was free.
He ends up giving me a 24 hour access card for free, and I go back up to my room to gather my things before exploring the city. I quickly realize that most of Florence is dirty, which seems to be a common theme throughout Italy. I spent most of the evening walking around and trying to get oriented. Although most of the streets are narrow (not nearly as narrow as Venice, though) , it’s pretty easy to get lost.
One good thing about the narrow streets is that they are good for hiding in the shade. Starting in Venice, I quickly realized that there is right (correct) way to walk down Italian streets, that is, the side that is in the shade. I’ve noticed in Florence that the side of the street in the shade is far more crowded than the other.
I got back to my hotel around 9:00pm after getting dinner at a family style buffet. I go up to my room to notice that my shower doesn’t have a shower curtain. So I call down to the front desk to explain my problem, but because he doesn’t understand English, so he has to come up to my room to see the problem. So I show him the missing shower curtain and he leaves to find me a new one. About 45 minutes later, he comes back and tells me he doesn’t have any more, and that I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
Not that big of a deal, but I purposefully cancelled my hostel reservations to have nicer accommodations and sleep in a hotel. While it does have air conditioning, I have been disappointed with it to say the least.
So after he leaves, I decide I’ll just take a bath instead. Problem is, there isn’t a plug for the bathtub, so the water just runs down the drain. I call him again, and because he still doesn’t understand English, he has to come back up to my room. I try to explain to him what the problem is and even turn the water on to show him how it just runs down the drain. He tells me there isn’t anything he can do, and I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Not wanting to use the flexible shower head like a garden hose and splash water everywhere, I wash my face in the sink and just go to bed.

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