Ciao, Roma

Apparently my hangover was contagious, because Angela woke up with it on our last morning in Rome. We packed up all of our crap, (Angela was sporting the free t-shirt from the pub crawl the night before; that’s how bad she felt), checked out of the hotel, and made a beeline for McDonald’s. If you’ve ever eaten at a European Mickey D’s, you know it’s different. Whatever item is your favorite (for me, it was the McChicken), they won’t have it. It’s just how Europe is. I chose McNuggets instead, and discovered that they charge extra for dipping sauce. What?! Who eats McNuggets with no sauce, other than my four-year-old niece? I coughed up the extra money. It was definitely worth it.

After snarfing our McDonald’s lunch (even though it was only about 10 a.m., pretty sure they didn’t have breakfast), we dragged all of our luggage to the train station. It’s called Termini Station, and it’s huge. It’s different than Grand Central, in that it’s very modern. Angela and I waited in line for hours for our tickets. (To her credit, she managed to hold down her hamburger. Poor girl, she was miserable.) We finally boarded the train, which I’m pretty sure is the last thing Angela wanted to do. We had endless stops, and small seats, but finally we arrived at what turned out to be my favorite city in Italy…Florence.

Rome is like New York City. It’s hot, (in September, anyway!) it’s busy, and it’s swarming with people and cars and buses. Florence was a different creature. It’s full of cobblestone streets that are for pedestrians, and it’s full of grand old architecture. And of course, the statue of David.

We waited in line to see David the next morning. He’s huge…and I’m definitely only talking about his height. He’s on a very high pedestal, so he towers over the room. His body was amazing. His man parts? If the guy was alive today and knew how many people would be gazing at him, he would rethink that nude modeling thing. But it was cool to see. And Ang even managed to take an illegal picture with her cell phone.

We spent some time wandering the city, then went to the Uffizi. Yay. Another art museum. But it had some neat stuff, like the painting of the birth of Venus, and some original Michelangelo paintings, so it wasn’t terrible. After that, we needed beer.

Then we walked some more. One great thing about Florence: you can drink while walking down the street.

We walked across the Gold Bridge, which is apparently so named due to the insane amount of jewelry stores that lined the street. I learned the hard way that bridges are very windy, and it’s not a good idea to wear a skirt and pose for pictures on one.

We wandered back toward the hotel, and found an Irish pub. Pretty ironic, especially since Allison and I also hung out at one in Rome. Irish beer tastes the same in Italy as it does in Ireland. FYI. We hit a street market, since Allison and I were both hunting for those soccer-looking sweatshirts that say Italia. Score!

On the way to dinner, I had a few fun photo ops. First I found the Italian equivalent of one of my favorite trashy Oklahoma stores, the dollar store. Except in Florence, it’s the Nine-T-Nine cent store.

Then I nearly died laughing when I saw this sign in a restaurant window. Not only have salad bars been around since about the middle ages, if you know me at all, you know I can’t stand salad, or anything in it.

By this time, it was time for some grub. The best Italian food I had the whole trip was in Florence. We found a sidewalk cafe, but the only table large enough for our group was occupied by a lone, overweight British guy. We joined him, and I think he was a bit overwhelmed by us. I like to think he had fun and we entertained him. Hard not to, as Angela ordered our drinks…

But he was a good sport.

Full of liters of beer and fabulous pasta, we decided to wander some more. And being that we had been on the go for several days and were all having Facebook withdrawals, we went into an Internet cafe run by some Middle Eastern guys. I think we scared them. Can’t imagine why.

Their buddies across the tiny cobblestone street ran a convenience store. We felt obliged to give them some business.

By then, it was about bedtime. We walked back to the hotel, where I had to take a picture with the toilet. (I have a longstanding habit of taking photos with European toilets; I think they’re so much more interesting than American toilets.)

And with that, it was time to say goodnight to Florence. Venice awaited the next day…and a fabulous cruise ship. Much more pleasant transportation than the train.

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