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Getting To Florence The Hard Way

Getting To Florence The Hard Way

Up early and beyond thankful for not having a headache (thank you beautiful german beer) I headed for the train station to score some breakfast and stock up on supplies to keep me full on my epic 10 hour train ride to Italy.

It’s always the small things you appreciate when travelling, so getting to my train seat and seeing a power outlet almost made me cheer as if I was at the football and my team had just scored the winning goal. Sure I would spent a serious amount of time watching the landscape change from the beauty of green and snow capped mountains to the rustic colours of tuscany. But I’m a wannabe travel blogger I also have to work at some stage and trains have been by far my best environments for working.

The journey was incredible and for a while made me almost regret skipping Austria, after all the country’s name is almost the same as mine and really how awesome would it be to see this kind of view a bit more.

Austria View

As I marveled at the postcard like views from my train window while tapping away at the keys on my mac, I realised the train was running a little late. Then when we stopped at the border to Italy for over half an hour I really started to wonder if I was going to make my connecting train to Florence, curse the ticket man in Munich for not giving me much transfer time.

As it happened my train was late getting to Bologna, almost an hour late. Racing to find the ticket desk I found that I could get another train but would be up for a new ticket and no I couldn’t use my eurail pass. I would also be dumped at another train station in Florence and have to catch yet one more train to the station I needed, Santa Maria Novella.

Boarding the train to Florence at last I thought it would be smooth sailing. As long as you call smooth sailing travelling on a train that was melt your face hot inside. Turns out the heater was stuck on… why the heater was on in the first place given it was 30+ degrees outside and summer time I don’t know. In the sauna of a train where every other able bodied person had taken up home in the windows and doorways I sat defeated and sweated like a fat man wrapped in latex, it was not pretty.

Making it to Florence I then set about finding my hostel. Hopeful I wouldn’t get lost as the last time was in Helsinki and that was like 5-6 countries ago, I was a semi seasoned backpacker now. Alas after having checked my maps and even asked some locals I couldn’t even find the bus stop I needed, let alone the hostel. Out of sheer luck I wandered down a street hoping I was walking in the right direction to my hostel and found my bus.
Florence Street

Checking into the hostel I dumped my gear and headed for a cool shower to relax. I then set about finding these two travel friends of mine that had convinced me to come to Florence in the first place. They were of course the amazing duo of Suzy (suzyguese.com) and Annie (waywardtraveller.com).

Suzy saved me getting lost and met me at my hostel before taking me out into the streets to find a drinking spot. In the end it was her that got us slightly lost, but I could forgive her as she had only just arrived back in Florence herself. Grabbing beers we sat back and caught up on what we had both been up too. The only distraction, Australia was getting pummeled by Germany in the world cup.

Soon after Annie arrived and the three of us, tucked away in the corner of the pub talked travel and all things blogging while enjoying a nice cold beer. Eventually the girls lead me off to find a kebab to satisfy our hunger and all I can say is, I’m glad they had some idea on where we were going as I was well and truly lost.

Getting back to my hostel after our feed I reflected on the day I almost didn’t make it to Florence. I’d met two people who I’d only ever swapped emails, tweets and facebook messages with. Strangely after an hour or two together, it felt like I’d known them a lot longer. I had survived a missed train, a train that made me sweat from places I didn’t know possible and travelled through three different countries. All this in one day, I could never say a backpackers journey wasn’t an interesting one.

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29 Responses to Getting To Florence The Hard Way

  1. ANDREW January 16, 2011 at 4:11 PM #

    German trains run a lot closer to on time, hence why the German Ticket Agent probably gave you such a close connection. They may also not know so much about the Italian trains.

    Glad you made it to Florence to meet up with the girls, sounds like a good day in the end. Though if you make it back that direction, stay longer in Bologna. It is a great place and less touristy than Florence.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 16, 2011 at 9:31 PM #

      Andrew I have heard that but both my trains into and out of Germany to date have been late, maybe I just got unlucky.

      I’m hoping to get back there this summer and spend more time in the area. I really enjoyed my time in Italy and can’t wait to see more of it.

  2. AYNGELINA January 16, 2011 at 4:51 PM #

    I wish I had known you were heading to Florence, I know a fantastic hostel there.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 16, 2011 at 9:32 PM #

      I could have used your tip Ayngelina as the hostel I stayed at had a 2am curfew which made some plans finish earlier than I had wanted.

      I blame Annie for the hostel as she recommended it. I’ll grab your recommendation off you for next time I visit.

      • ANNIE January 17, 2011 at 1:36 PM #

        I said SORRY!!!!!!!!! Last time I recommend someone stay near mee!! 😉

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 1:44 PM #

          haha Annie I was waiting for you to see this 🙂 It was actually good having the hostel so close to both you and Suzy. And to be honest it wasn’t all that bad, it was just the night Lorenzo’s band was playing that we had to come back to get me tucked in for the night.

  3. JILL - JACK AND JILL TRAVEL THE WORLD January 16, 2011 at 5:49 PM #

    Enjoy Florence. We have tons of good memories (and one bad one) there. And we took a pic very much like the one you have of the alleys. How long are you going to be there?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 16, 2011 at 9:34 PM #

      Thanks Jill, I really did enjoy my time there. I was actually there about 6 months or so now, its just taken me so long to document my travels. I wanted to write it daily so that I could remember it and so my family could see everything I got up too.

  4. ANDI January 16, 2011 at 8:22 PM #

    What a fun day!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 16, 2011 at 9:35 PM #

      I’m not sure fun is the right word Andi, but by the end of the day I did have a beer in my hand so things did get better.

  5. CARLA January 16, 2011 at 9:25 PM #

    Yeih! Congrats! Your post reminded me of my first travels: the excitement, the fear, the confusion, and the final sense of satisfaction. I have to say that it gets better with time, because the “fear” part disappears.

    Happy travels!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 16, 2011 at 9:39 PM #

      Hey Carla thanks for the comment. I don’t think it was so much fear of getting stuck in Bologna, more that I was looking forward to getting to Florence to meet my friends and after having sat on a train for so long I was keen to relax and have a few beers with them.

  6. ANDREA January 17, 2011 at 2:40 AM #

    I’ve had so many bad train experiences in Italy! They are definitely not like German or French trains. At least you finally arrived and were able to explore beautiful Florence.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

      Andrea I have to admit that it was the only time I’d been caught up in a bad experience on the trains in Italy. Still the last train to Florence that had the heating up was definately the worst train ride in my life.

  7. MATT January 17, 2011 at 3:53 AM #

    Glad you finally made it where you needed to be, I had plenty of close calls catching trains in Europe as I’m habitually late. Just reading this makes me miss train travel — like you said, a great way to get work done and you feel so connected to the areas you pass through.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM #

      haha Matt I tended to get there early so I can grab a few thing for the journey. I also booked most of my trains in the mornings so I had to get out of the hostel anyway.

      I loved the trains and can’t wait to get back to Europe for another go on the trains down south this time. They are just to relaxed and easy to get around on. Delivered from city center to city center.

  8. ANNIE January 17, 2011 at 1:55 PM #

    I so remember this day, you texting me about your horrible travel experience! haha. Glad that me and Suzy could be there to help and show you were to get beer! 🙂

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 4:33 PM #

      I remember it too well Annie, that hot train was horrible. Was very happy to finally get there and enjoy a beer.

  9. ZABLON MUKUBA January 17, 2011 at 2:25 PM #

    its always great meeting new people, especially the ones who we have talked to for a while through emails

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 4:34 PM #

      Zablon mate I’ve had so much fun meeting people I met online in real life. Especially people from the travel community because we have so much in common to talk about.

  10. SUZY January 17, 2011 at 4:25 PM #

    Finally! Something about how amazing Annie and I were in Florence! I remember being so incredibly jet lagged, so that’s my excuse for the stroll/getting lost to get beer.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 17, 2011 at 4:36 PM #

      lol Suzy this was just the start, I’ve yet to tell everyone what a great tour guide you were 🙂

      Yes I do remember you being a bit jet lagged as well. You only got to Florence like the day before me I think.

  11. ROSSROAMS January 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM #

    I’m not sure what’s worse, “sweating like a fat man wrapped in latex” (lol) or paying a €50 fine for not buying a ticket before getting on the train.

    My European backpacking adventure was christened with this €50 fine because I didn’t have time to buy a ticket or I was going to miss my train. Some welcome!

    You’re right, the views out the window were beautiful. I hope they helped to ease your mind as they did mine.

    How long are you in Florence for? I had a blast during the 3 weeks that I stayed there.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 18, 2011 at 9:09 PM #

      Hi Ross, I had a ticket but if they had tried to ticket me on that train I’d have lost it I think.

      All up I spent 4-5 days there and could have stayed longer but I wanted to see a bit more of Europe before heading to London for the start of my visa. Am looking forward to going back over summer this year to see a bit more.

  12. IAN January 19, 2011 at 12:21 PM #

    Wow that is bad luck. But the good thing is despite everything you where able to reach Florence. Traveling is really surprising in many ways and one tiring experiences I has was getting lost good thing there are always a way for solutions.

  13. JEREMY B January 19, 2011 at 9:59 PM #

    Hence you now see the difference between efficient Germany and laid back, not pay attention to the clock Italians! That was quite an adventure getting there but at least you got to hang out with a couple of great travelers!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM #

      haha Jeremy, yes I’m sure clocks don’t exist or if they do nobody pays attention to them. Still sounds like the right kind of place to relax don’t you think…

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