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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 06, 2015

Wednesday - enjoying Florence

I did what I said and had a totally relaxing, do nothing day on Wednesday.  Although I did have to deal with what could have been an unpleasant situation with my hotel.  I use cheapish hotels as anyone who knows about my travel knows.  And sometimes I get a really nice one but mostly I get okay ones and that's okay.  I'm mostly just sleeping in them.  But after my first trip to Florence and particularly after my trip to Paris, I have learned when I'm searching for hotels to look for the pictures of bathrooms.  If they don't have any, I look at more hotels.  The hotel where I am now had pictures and they looked fine.  So I was shocked when I got to my fairly spartan room to find that the bathroom was on the order of the Paris one - in a small square area there was a commode, a small sink and a shower head with a drain in the floor under it - no curtain, no enclosure nothing.  So Wednesday morning I bravely girded my loins and talked to the woman at the desk explaining that I had seen all their pictures of bathrooms and none of them were like mine and I didn't like it and would it be at all possible to switch to one with at least with something around the shower.  And, miracle of miracles it was.  I had to wait till Wednesday afternoon to get into it cause someone was checking out that morning but that was fine.  The other very strange thing was that my first room was in a different building than the rooms where the front desk was!  I was across the street.  Weird.  And ah, budget travel.

Anyway, the rest of Wednesday was just pleasure.  And I took a grand total of 5 pictures!  The first one was on my phone and I took it just to send to Chris and make him jealous.  I stopped at one of the cafes that surround the Duomo and sat outside with a cup of tea and a little egg and truffle sandwich (which was a first and very good) and from where I was sitting took a picture of what I could see of it without getting up.  Then later I took this much nicer pictures and I know everyone will be glad to see the Duomo for the umpteenth time!  I sure was.

Then I was wandering around and thinking about sitting on a bench and here came this couple.  She sat down and made him sit and she was fooling with her camera.  I asked her if she would like me to take their picture and made various motions like I do when I ask people that question and she was delighted by the whole thing.  I think she told the man and at some point she gave me her camera but I couldn't get it to take a picture.  I gave it back and she tried and no picture so she opened it and there were batteries but I think she decided they must be dead.  And she was just talking along happy as a clam.  So I got across the idea of me taking their picture with my camera and I was talking along too - told her that would give me something to remember them by and our nice conversation.  That's when she held up her camera, giving me a big grin and so here they are.  Pretty dear folks.
I took little notes of what I was seeing as I sat at the cafe and I saw a man with an apple green knit toboggan hat on and matching tennis type shoes.  Where do they find these things?  I also saw a fairly rough looking man get stopped by the police who seem to sit in a car on that plaza and I guess wait to see rough looking men.  Felt kind of sorry for him - he showed them his identify papers and then had to wait while they checked him out but they seem to part with smiles.  Uncomfortable for him though to have everyone in the cafe gawking at him.

Speaking of cafes, I was disappointed to find that the little one on the street where my hotel was in 2010 and again in 2014 with Chris and where I stopped frequently both years and even made a quick stop when I flew from Sicily to Florence on my way home last year because I wanted to get Parmesan cheese at the Mercato Centrale.  When I went in last year they recognized me and it that made me happy.  So this year I walked down to where I thought it was and from the outside it looked pretty much the same although I didn't remember it being called "Freddy's" and the inside was quite different.  On my way back I worked up the nerve to go in and try to ask if they were new owners and the man spoke quite good English and said yes, they had bought it a year ago.  So that's that.
 Chris had told me he read they were cleaning up Orsanmichele (which is probably the wrong spelling) and indeed they are.  The one above has been cleaned inside and outside.  The one below only the outside has been cleaned.  I would think they could continuously clean these buildings  and never have a completely clean building, especially the Duomo.  Each time I've been, some part has been filthy and some other part, relatively clean, and some other part pretty newly clean.
 And on one of her shopping outings Heather had seen some beautiful fabrics and I think bought a couple.  I saw this and took it because it was so absolutely gorgeous I couldn't stand it.  It doesn't show in the photo but the red pattern was somehow textured so that it was slightly 3-D.  If I was rich, skinny, and young, I would want a dress exactly like this made out of it.  This is just the fabric wrapped around a mannequin but very skillfully.
The final treat of Wednesday was having dinner at Enzo & Piero's restaurant which is on the same street and where I've eaten in 2010 and 2014 with Chris.  It is really good good and I think quite authentic even though they are very popular with tourists too.  That night there was an English speaking couple sitting at the next table and at some point we ended up having some conversation which is always nice.  And there was a little girl there with her mama and papa who was being very good and was cute, of course.  At some point, a flower seller came in with roses - they do that and go table to table and usually no one buys any.  I said no too and then caught him back to see how much they were and they weren't much so I bought one and asked him to give it to the little girl for me.  The little girl was kind of enthralled by the whole business and the parents seemed delighted with it - big smiles to me and head nodding and such and then when I left more smiles.  So that was nice too.  My waitress this time was from Texas!!  I knew her English sure was perfect but there was some kind of accent there and she said it's because she's lived here 13 years now.

So just the kind of day I wanted and needed.  And since it turned out to be a longer post than I thought, I will do Thursday in a separate one.  It will be mostly pictures and I'll tell you why when I write the post. :)

A presto!


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