2006-01-06: Between two cities
Today we left fair Venice, where Shakespeare doth make some sonnet (no, wait, that was fair Verona, some place with a trailer park called exile containing Leonardo Di Caprio from memory or confusion with movies). We had a nice late start and I woke with an appetite, a sign I hadn't had for a couple of days. After our breakfast we caught a bus back into Venice (with a ticket again, and this time with me hauling all our travel possessions on a shoulder). We had to go past a market we've passed several times already and I could see it tearing at my wife that we couldn't stop and wander about it.
Another Venice GW stockist
In Venice we did wander a bit more. We found some more streets we hadn't been down (though that isn't hard in this area). It was too early for shops to open (being 10am and all), but it may also have been a public holiday of some sort in Italy. We're not sure which one, but it involves witches on broomsticks in posters. We sat down by one church while Edyta scouted in a music hall (where you could see most of the building from the area they made you line up to pay for admittance) and a church that I went into after she returned. The church was your standard one, full of dark brooding pictures of men cowering before the cross and happy angels lording it over them. This church was in need of repair though. Most other churches were closed for the morning due to Mass, probably to do with the holiday (though we didn't remember this fact till much later in the night).
I did get a second treat while walking the streets, we found a store selling Games Workshop miniatures. No, not the first one again, another one with a completely different display window. There was even a little ogre in a chariot modelled to look like Santa, though I don't think I'd like his presents. There were your standard Anime and other games (including a miniatures game looking a bit Warhammer-ish but from a company I've never heard of). Two games stores in the one city, I hadn't even pulled that luck in England; this city has made up for not being able to find a single store in Spain. I have high hopes for Florence and even an expectation of an official store in Rome.
We got on our train and settled in (which involved filling the overhead racks with our luggage and coats). We were sat next to another couple and wondered why we ended up being squeezed in when half the train was empty, but several stops later the carriage was completely full, especially after the visiting Chinese Sisters of Mercy got aboard the train, and then proceeded to open their laptops to report on the days subversive activities. The train ride wasn't too awe inspiring; we quickly entered mountains where there were cliffs on one side and the sun on the other so you couldn't see much outside. Then there were the tunnels. In Tasmania if there was a hill in the way you just went over it, here they like to go through it. At least Florence was the end of the line so I didn't have to worry about getting of at the wrong stop.
At Florence train station I wished we were back in Venice. Our help from a hotel information booth in locating our hotel was a pointing to the tourist information booth. We walked to the tourist information booth, past a group of very Mexican looking Italians loitering in a park, hanging in gangs and drinking Vino in bottles just left lying around. For me carrying all of our luggage I felt like a very vulnerable target. Damn all those people and stories of thieves in Italy, you've got me jumping at shadows. The tourist information booth was closed. Damn you Italians and weird holiday hours. With no option left we took a taxi to the hotel. Damn you taxis and your expensive Italian charges (still didn't match the cost of the taxi we took in Reading on New Years Day, but close in Euro). The hotel guy gave us the bus numbers and the location to buy tickets but the place selling tickets was closed. Damn you Italians and weird holiday hours. The area of the hotel really smelled like a sewage pit.
I'd been hoping it would be snowing in Florence. Whilst in Spain a snow dump hit this city but it has since melted away. A fine covering of white snow would've cheered this place up, but by now it would've just been a damp, muddy brown muck. Much like my first impression of Florence.
The toilet in the hotel is one of those annoying European toilets where number twos are left proudly on display until you flush (and then clean if they have been a little bit sticky). At least there were at normal toilet levels, there were some in Venice that only came up to half the height of the normal toilet, but still half a height more than the infamous French squat toilets. When travelling overseas watch out for all the weird toilet designs. And so far I'm thankful I haven't encountered any of the toilets where waste is flushed and paper is binned, I've been advised they can be found in this country.
After all this damning and another illegal bus ride (in a bus that displayed clearly in English a 240 euro fine for riding without a valid ticket) we made it into Florence and had tea. As most things were now shutting we set about finding our bus to return the hotel. Fearing the fine we bought all the bus tickets we needed for the next couple of days. We then had to find our bus stop. The bus information booth pointed us to where we had originally got off and where there was no marked bus stop for our bus, so we then had to stand in the area till we saw a bus with our number and then chase after it till we got it at a stop. That was the end of our day of travel.