Message from Lyn: I always nag the hubby why he never helps me with the IT part of blogging. Although I’m an IT grad, I thought it was a mistake and he is the one who loves this techy stuff. But I realized something. Despite the fact that he doesn’t really help with the technical stuff, he is my grammar nazi. As I always say, I am not a writer and doesn’t pretend to be and I’m so lazy to proof read most of the stuff I’m writing so having him to point out some unacceptable grammar mistakes is always helpful (although I don’t care most of the time. I know you’re reading my blog not because of my writing prowess but just because I’m witty. Choz lang!)
During times that I’m not in the mood to write or so busy at work, I wonder if I can let others guest post. And I always ask Gibson to try.
Finally it happened. So without further ado, here is our Florence adventure in the eyes (and words) of Gibson.
The Filipina Expat a.k.a. my wife, has been urging me to write a piece she can feature in her blogsite. Writing narratives has never been my forte nor did I ever attempt to write one, but let her know if you think we should do this again! 😉
I’ll start off my historical first blog narrating our time in Florence.
Continuing on our south-ward travel, we travelled from Venice to Florence via train. Our group was never short of thrills as evident by what we had to go through to make it to the Venice train station on time!
Little Biel stopped for a photo before boarding the water bus stop
As we were about to board the platform of the vaporetto that we thought would take us to the train station, a Filipina (God Bless her along with her husband!) came out of nowhere to tell us that we were on the wrong bus stop. Assuming we fully understood her instruction, we moved to the next which turned out to be another wrong one. When we were about to board the vaporetto, she literally ran her way to catch us on time and tell us that we should take a different vaporetto. Cut the story short, we would’ve ended 10-20 minutes late for our train ride if wasn’t for her and her savvy. I was secretly looking at her back looking for a pair of white wings. Thank you God for sending her our way, she was truly an angel in disguise! (Lyn: Filipinos are really helpful to fellow kabayans while abroad)
Around two hours of train ride from Venice to Florence go by in a blink if you’re the type who enjoys the sight of green fields and country-side views. For the kids, Oreos and other crackers did the trick.
They’re all smiles when photos were taken but bantering were also there whenever they realized they have the rights to be bored
We arrived at the Firenze S.M. Novella Station after less than two hours of journey. It was raining lightly when we got there and had to use our umbrellas and the kids’ rain coats as we find our way to our hotel apartment. With luggage in tow and umbrellas on the other hand, no one was able to take photos of our arrival.
From the station to finding our accommodation, it took us around 15-20 minutes. Fails in comparison to our experience in Venice despite the rain! The lady looking after the apartment (Claudia) met with us to talk us through the ins and outs of the room. We made it a point to ensure that the water heater was working, and it was so, whew! We were only able to leave our stuff at that time as the apartment is yet to be cleaned.
Not to waste time, we went out of our way to a place highly-recommended by Claudia: the Mercato Centrale which was only 5 minutes away and thankfully, the rain has stopped. On our way to it was a bazaar strip of Florence leather goods and souvenirs. As excited as we were entering Mercato Centrale with thoughts of eating our hearts out, we were a bit letdown by how crowded the place was. Shops that serve market-fresh Italian food ranging from something as plain as cheese, to pizzas, to fresh steaks are all in this place. I even remember a steak shop which I think serves freshly-cut portions of meat.
We were drooling to try the awesome variety of food from the shops in Mercato Centrale but long queues and lack of tables and seats spoiled our cravings. 🙂
So on our way out, we settled for some of their finger foods.
The kids were happy with their chicken nuggets, and the oldies dug in to share these. I can only remember the fried pasta, the golden cube one, but they were all delicious.
Guess where we ended up having lunch? At a Chinese restaurant close to our apartment! Turned out that the area we’re staying in is quite popular with Chinese tourists and I guess residents, too. The food were ok and nothing noteworthy apart from the fact that they made us use plastic cutleries and plates!
We then quickly went back to the cleaned apartment to get changed, etc. before strolling around Firenze! One of the best things of our apartment was the laundry shop available at the ground floor of the building. Given that we were in the middle of a week-long trip and only tried to pack as less as possible, we were due to run out of garments to wear sooner or later. No attendant to assist, but a couple of Euros for the washing machine, detergent and dryer and that’s one important task done and over with in 40 minutes!
A few pictures of our accommodation…
Lyn: I thought I was time-warp to 80’s. The decor, the bedsheet.. I can’t. But aside from these, I highly recommend this apartment. Perfect location, apartment is clean and complete, good hostess. Name is Appartamento San Lorenzo Via Faenza Medici Chapels. Mouthful!!!!
We then went on our way and our first stop was Piazza di Santa Maria Novella which was 5 minutes away from our apartment.
Why call it a stop without snapping a few photos, right? And the kids were happy to oblige..
…so is the Filipina Expat herself and her near-identical looking sister (Jholen)
And Piazzas are the bird slayer’s domain, so you should know what she’s up to in this photo…
Our next “can’t miss” stop was the iconic and perhaps most-featured building in Florence, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral’s construction spanned nearly a century and a half until it was completed on 1436. Lyn: it is more popularly known as Il Duomo di Firenze. This is the main church of Florence.
It looks way more splendid in person than how it is in photos. The architecture is something else…
A zoomed-in look of the exterior. The exterior design and patterns were all sculptured, not just painted. I am still in awe of how people from centuries ago, with less tools and equipment, managed to build a thing of beauty as intricately detailed as this structure.
Cole showing some interest in taking photos
As there were a few sneakerheads in the group, we HAD TO track the nearest Footlocker branch and luckily, there was one nearby the cathedral.
Next up was the Piazza della Signoria.
The Italian Oblation Statue. Kidding! They call it Fountain of Neptune. Not really an ideal background for a family photo, hence just me…
We then did a 10-minute walk towards Ponte Vecchio and stopped by for a few photos along the Arno River. Lyn: Ponte Vecchio was until 1218 the only bridge across Arno in Florence. This bridge is peppered with many interesting shops that you might fancy.
As we had an early start to the day that included a couple or hours on the train, we had to have an early-ish finish. We wrapped it up with dinner at an Italian restaurant called L’imperatore Ristorante Pizzeria located in the same street as our apartment. Cole couldn’t and wouldn’t eat anything Italian other than pizza and Spaghetti Pomodoro which Biel shares little of every time. As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed my T-bone steak even though it was served after everyone were done with their meals. The guy who took the order forgot to punch it in but I couldn’t blame him as they were packed that evening.
I guess that would be it for my first blog.
Always remember: happy wife, happy life! 😉 (Lyn: Ahhhh….Words of a wise man)
And that’s it! The first ever, and hopefully not last, blog post of my habibi. I’m not sure if I can convince him again to write although I think he enjoyed the writing process. Stay tuned for our Pisa and Rome adventure.