Thursday, August 04, 2011

August 4, 2011 -- Florence, Italy. So, readers, first things first. Today is my son Ken's birthday. So, I want to wish Ken the best birthday ever! Take the day off, enjoy the wife and family and have a snack at Canter's Deli for me!! I love you.

Rowers going under the Ponte Vecchio
Today is our last day in Florence, and we're 4 days from returning to the U.S. We started out the day getting some laundry out of the way. We also thought we could rent a car and head for Lucca. There are a couple of car rental agencies in Florence -- one, EuropCar, had cars for rent but cars were 160 Euro's for the day. That's $240! On top of that, they didn't have a GPS, so even if I was nuts enough to rent a car for that kinda money, I couldn't find my way around. The next agency had cars for less, but a 2 hour wait in line deterred us from getting one. So, we thought -- OK, we'll take a train.

We were only a few blocks from the train station, so we made our way over there to check out the schedule. There was, in fact, a train for Lucca at 13:44. It turned out to be a "slow" train and the trip would have taken 2 hours plus to get there. So, in the end, we decided not to go to Lucca -- at least this trip. We saw on the map there is a Science and Technology Museum in Florence and decided that, after lunch and an Internet Point "fix", we'd make our way over there.

Planetarium in Florence, Italy
Lunch was at a nearby Falafal joint we discovered near the hostel. They have great coffee, my favoriate drink (Fanta Zero) and the best beer in Italy -- Birra Moretti. The Falafal is pretty good, too. About two doors down is a place called the "Internet Train", so we stopped in and used the computer to buy a ticket for the Sistene Chapel tomorrow at 15:00. We'll be in Rome by noon, so that'll give us plenty of time to drop our bags off at the hostel and make our way to the Vatican. We then set out for the Museum of Science and Technology -- and the planetarium there -- to see what we could see. Unfortunately, they were closed, and the building seemed completely shut down.

On the way back to the hostel we stopped at one of the local supermarkets, the Billa, to buy some fruit and drinks. It had been a busy day wandering the city, so it was nice taking a 30-minute break enjoying a cold drink, listening to some music on the T.V. and talking. We thought it'd be fun to find a Chinese restaurant, so we made our way over to the "InfoPoint" nearby. We learned there were a couple of good restaurants near the train station, so another hike over there was in order. We found a great little family-owned place and had a light dinner of noodles, won ton soup and rice.

At around 8:45 p.m. it was time to check out the music concert near the Odeon Theater in the middle of town. By now, we knew Florence pretty well, so we found the venue in short order. The quartet consisted of a drums, piano, base and "bongo". I would describe it as "modern jazz" -- and frankly it wasn't to our liking, so we left, making our way back to the hostel. On our way, we ran across a street guitar player/singer, Paolo Depa. He was better listening than the more "professional" group, so we stayed for a while. He sang a variety of popular songs from the 60's-90ìs, including the Beetles and Elvis!!

By now it was 11:15 p.m., so we figured it'd be prudent to get a good night's sleep and hit the train station early.

More tomorrow from Rome..