Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 2 in Florence, the Duomo, the Accademia, the Uffizi, Piazzale Michelangelo

I woke up early this morning, around 7 am, the hostel has no curtains on the windows, I think the sunshine woke me up.  I rolled over, pulled the covers over my head and tried to get a little more sleep, finally getting up just before 9 am, in time for the hostel's free breakfast. I heard this hostel had a great breakfast, I had no idea it would be as outstanding as it was, better than any  hotel's free breakfast I have ever had. The hostel has a chef who prepares the breakfast, there was an assortment of foods, I wish I had taken a picture of everything.  There were pastries with ham, mini sandwiches with fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato, there were creme tarts with strawberry slices on top. Everything was delicious, I was surprised to see people eating the standard breakfast fare, milk and cereal.

I checked out shortly after breakfast, I had to change rooms today, was not a big deal.  I left my luggage at the hostel, my computer at the reception desk, and went out to explore Florence.  My  first stop, camera shops, the camera I brought with me to Europe had died, it is still under warranty, I may ship it to my parents and let them send it in for repairs.  In the meantime, I needed a new camera, I could have gone with a cheap low end, but this is the trip of a lifetime, when will I ever tour Europe like this again?  I invested in another super zoom camera, this camera is a 12.5x zoom, good enough for what I need.

I went to the Duomo after I bought my new camera, I took a few shots and the low battery warning appeared.  Florence's Duomo, is probably the most beautiful cathedral I have seen in Europe.  Many of Florence's buildings are architectural works of art, fitting for this city of art.  I was going to go check out the lines at the Uffizi, Florence's famous art gallery, but I decided to go back to my hostel and charge my battery.  Last thing I wanted was to be sightseeing and my camera's battery die.

Lynnae & Duomo & Baptistery 
I went back to my hostel, let my battery charge for about an hour, and call home on my magic jack.  I left the hostel around 1pm to restart my sightseeing in Florence. I headed towards the Duomo when I left my hostel this afternoon, the woman at the  reception recommended a Panini shop in a square not far from the Duomo, I decided to stop there for a quick lunch, it was inexpensive 2.50 Euro for the sandwich.  After lunch, I headed for the Uffizi, I was prepared not to go at all, I wanted to see the lines though.  If it was more than an hour wait, I was going to skip the Uffizi, see it the next time I am in Florence.  The line was long, I left, went to take some pictures around Piazza della Signoria.

Lynnae in front of Palazzo Vecchio

Fountain in Piazza della Signoria

Statue in Piazza della Signoria
After Piazza della Signoria, I went back to the Duomo, there was almost no line to enter, I had not planned to tour the inside of the Duomo, but since the line was short, it was free, I went inside.  The Duomo looks like many other Catherarals I have seen on the inside, I walked around, took some pictures and then headed for the Accademia to See Michelangelo's David. I stopped and bought caramel gelato on my way to Accademia.

Inside Florence's Duomo

Caramel Gelato on my way to the Accademia to see David
The wait to get into the Accademia was a little less than an hour, I passed the time talking to an American couple living in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I told them about my CIA story, they had the usual response, shock, sounds like a TV show, etc. They said they always meet interesting people while traveling, I agreed.  Seeing David at the was worth the wait, pictures do not convey what the sculpture looks like in person.  David is the main attraction at the Accademia, I looked at the other exhibits, but wanted to go back to the Uffizi, see if the lines were shorter in the evening.  

David at the Accademia
When I got to the Uffizi there was no line, some people were waiting, asking questions of the man working at the door.  I could not understand the conversation, it was all in Italian.  I later passed by the Uffizi and saw a sign and a huge line, free from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm, those people were waiting for the free time.  I am glad I  did not know it was free this evening, I could have waited 2 hours and been at the front of the line.  Since I did not know about tonight's freebie at the Uffizi, I paid 11 Euros, no wait time, went straight to the 2nd floor to see the artwork. I did not know no photography is allowed in the Uffizi, I asked a worker to take a picture of me on the steps, after some Italian conversation and telling her coworkers, she took one for me.

Lynnae in the Uffizi 
The Uffizi was nice in the late afternoon, no big crowds, a few artists copying the sculptures on sketch pads, some students taking notes.  I spent about an hour looking at the sculptures and artwork, then I went to the top, where there's a cafe, saw the view and left.  My next destination was across the Arno River, the Piazelle Michelangelo. I considered watching the sunset from the Piazelle Michelangelo  but I was hungry, did not want to hang out there until 8:45pm.  I hiked up the hill, saw the great view of Florence and made my way back down to the city.

The Arno River

View of Florence from Piazelle Michelangelo 

Lynnae in Piazelle Michelangelo
After Piazelle Michelangelo, I walked back down into Florence, I was hungry, needed to find something to eat.  I passed the Uffizi on my way back into the main part of Florence, there was another long line, this was the free event. The sign said the wait time was between 60 and 90 minutes, I was very happy I was not in that line.

Line at the Uffizi for free night
Florence had cleared out between the time I went to Piazelle Michelangelo and returned to the main square, it was quiet, no crowds, a few people taking pictures here and there.  When I went this morning, the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria were overrun with tourists.  Was interesting to see the difference   I kept an eye out for somewhere to eat, then I saw a teenager with a sign asking pizza? pizza? He asked me, initially I said no and kept walking, then I turned around, said pizza, yes.  He showed me to a crowded restaurant, mostly Italians, I figured it should be good.  I ordered the sausage and mushroom pizza, it was good, almost Naples quality.

After dinner I returned to my hostel.  I met my hostel mate from Australia, we talked about our travels.  She studied in Paris for 5 months, spent a lot of time with Americans and has acquired an American accent, it happens. Later our hostel mate from Mexico showed up. Tomorrow I move on to Pisa for a night, then Rome. I may stop in the walled city Lucca on my way to Pisa tomorrow, I have not decided yet. 

Day 2 in Florence Photo Album

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