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Charlotte in Italy!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Buongiorno from Firenze!
CIAO EVERYONE! I made it! Where to start...? I woke up yesterday at 7:30. I
got to the airport in sf 2 hours early and got on my flight at like 1:30.
The flight was 10 hours exactly and went perfectly fine, but I was stuck
in the middle seat between Carrie and this little old German woman who
kept her little light on the entire flight to read and kept elbowing me
in the ribs, no joke. Ow. And then there was the fat guy in front of me
who leaned his chair back all the way til it pressed into my knees and
then when he fell asleep completely let himself go and i was deprived
of leg room. needless to say, I wasn't able to sleep. I tried really hard!
But I couldnt. When we landed in frankfurt I felt sick and was exhausted
nd germany just looked all gray and ugly and all around poopy. I was
yelled at by like 8 germans in security before i found a bathroom. By the
time i got to my 11:30 (Germany time) flight to Florence, it was 2:30 a.m.
CA time, and boy oh boy did i want to sleep. Sadly, I was told that my
flight was overbooked, and I'd be on the 12:30 flight instead. This was ok
with me because as an apology for the inconvenience they gave me a
voucher redeemable for 175 Euros at Lufsthansa (the main european
airline). The flight to Florence went ok even though i felt sick and groggy.
When we started our descent into Italy we were flying over the Alps
and it was soooo beautiful. And then we were flying over the hills of
Tuscany with green stretching fields and green vineyard rows and
red tile roof whitewashed villas and I started to get really
excited!! Florence was MOLTE BELLA! However ... when we landed,
our luggage wasn't there. We were afraid it was lost until we realized
that it was probably on the flight we had transfered from cause it was
overbooked (me, Carrie, my friends Jon and Claire from Berkeley
all had to transfer) so we checked on that flight, and it turned out to
be delayed 2 1/2 hours. So we sat in the baggage claim area for another
hour and 1/2 and waited. When THAT flight arrived our luggage wasn't
there!! Then we finally checked with lost and found and discovered it
was still in Frankfurt. By this time we had missed our program's shuttle
so we called them, but they took another hour (literally) to get out to us
because of some car crash and it being peak traffic hours and the bus
workers being on strike (this is apparently common in Italy). Finally,
we checked in and I got the keys to the apt and my new Italian cell phone.
This is when my day started to turn around! Driving through Florence was
absolutely gorgeous. Not exactly what I expected - it's a big and busy
city, the roads are packed, and it's pretty modern-looking in a lot of
areas... but then of course you turn a corner and there's a medieval
church just sitting there looking pretty. And every road you drive down
has narrow twists and turns and is flanked by 4-story buildings made of
clay with balconies and flowers growing and little cafes and then you
drive along the river which was lit up by street lamps (it's now like 6
pm) and looked like something from a fairy tale. I wish you
could see it! Now here comes the best part ... after my long
long day (I've been awake for around 30 hours) we arrive at our little
apartment building. Our apartment is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!
This is by far the nicest place I have ever lived or will probably ever
live, at least for the next 15 years or so. It FAR exceeded all of our
expectations and wildest dreams. There's a big metal gate in front
that's locked (yay for safety, mom!). Open the gate (which has an
intercom, shnazzy) and you're in the front yard which is grass
on both sides of the path to the door with beautiful big old magnolia
trees on either side. Then... wait for it... we unlocked the front door
and it was pulled open for us. By our DOORMAN. He is super old and
friendly and his name is Giovanni. Inside the floors are marble and
there is a marble spiral staircase to the 4th floor. We of
course rode the elevator with Giovanni, though. Then we get out and
there's only 3 apartments on our floor all with big wooden sets of french
door. When we go in, there are vaulted ceilings, potted plants in the
corners and paintings on the walls... pause for effect... just in the
foyer. This leads into our amazing super nice kitchen, which opens onto
our BALCONY with a stupendous view of the Tuscan hills. Follow the
marble into our 2 spacious and immaculately clean bathrooms and 3 LARGE,
cute, 2-bed bedrooms with bay windows and 6 LARGE individual closets for
each of us. More than enough room to hold all my stuff and one of my small
suitcases, mom! I know im ranting but this is seriously like the most amazing
amazing place. We all freaked out when we got there. Then I mustered up
some reserves of energy and we walked down to this little restaurant(me and
my 5 roomies and another girl) and shared 2 bottles of vino and some pasta.
are all really very nice, by the way. Then we called it an early
night at around 10 cause we were very tired! Today, we had orientation
at a hotel down the street which lasted from 1-4. On the way there, I experienced
my first real difficulties with the language barrier... in attempting to order a
sandwich from this little trattoria. I don't know how to say "sandwich". Eventually
I was saved by pointing to it. Then in paying for it I was baffled by the Italians'
lack of respect for any semblance of a line. It must have taken me 5 minutes, and I
got cut by some old ladies! After orientation, we walked to the school and Carrie
and I picked up our luggage (finally), which had been delivered to the school's
office. Then we took a cab back, unpacked, and Carrie, Bekah and I decided to go
for a run. Bekah is my roommate and plays soccer for Trinity University, so I was
a little intimidated to run with her, but I was itching to see more of the city. We ran
across the river and through town a ways, and I saw all sorts of statues and pretty
buildings and was overwhelmed already until we came back and made our way on the
bike path along the river. THIS WAS GORGEOUS!! Everything was lit up and we were
across from the Duomo and the Palazzo Vechhio (the Campanelli) and the churches and
it was just beautiful. We made our way to the Ponte Vecchio and walked across and
marveled at all the shops. We think we're all going to head there tomorrow. I took a few
pictures today of the walk from our apartment to school, and the inside of our apartment,
which I'll share with you when I can. I hope everthing is going well in California! I miss
you guys. More later, when I get time. Gotta go shower and get ready to hit the town!
January 29, 2009 at 1:42 PM
Great to hear your story and that Italy is wonderful. Have fun and keep us posted!
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Firenze, Toscana, Italy
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Buongiorno from Firenze!