Date : 9/18/06
City : Florence
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We rode the night train from Paris to Florence, arriving only slightly disheveled and discombobulated. Stumbling off the train we quickly realized that we were at the off-brand train station in the far reaches of Florence, not the centrally located, walking-distance-to-our-hotel station I thought we'd stop at. So at 7:00 AM this fine Florentine morning we had to figure out how to make our way into central Florence by bus, taxi or foot. Chris figured out how to work bus system and somehow we acquired two hangers-on (tourists from Singapore) at sea, without hotel reservations, map or survival instincts. In other words, they even more lost than us. Even though Chris and I had no idea what we were doing, the two lost tourists kept asking us what to do and I have to admit to getting testy with them, but we promised to get them into the tourist district in any case. We boarded a bus and trundled off, but not knowing the least bit about Florence geography, I kept trying to correlate the street signs whizzing past with the markings on map. Finally, some older Florentine ladies on the bus took pity on me and asked in Italian, "Where are you going, the train station?" "No," I said, "Il Duomo" which was a landmark near our hotel and one I knew how to say. The old ladies went all aflutter and what I could catch in Italian was something along the lines of, "Get off the bus right now, you damn fool American! We're right in front of the Duomo! Can't you see?!" They practically pushed our whole motley crew off the bus and as the bus pulled away I saw it: Il Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore, a huge, beautiful, ornate cathedral in the middle of grand piazza.