So obviously judging by the title, I arrived in Florence early evening and followed my printed Google map to the Plus Florence Hostel. How big was this backpackers!? So big! Very YMCA. Full of Aussies of all ages checking in and out at reception. By the way, is there anyone left in Australia, seriously, Europe is over-run with them! I checked in and made my way to my four bed female dorm. It was okay, nothing to write home about, but clean is the priority in a backpackers, followed by what you can only hope are fairly normal people sharing the room, preferably with no psychotic tendencies, but then again maybe that’s asking for too much, when you’re only paying 25 euro’s a night?
The complimentary map told me I’d get 10% discount at the nearby sushi restaurant, and quite honestly I was ready to take a break from anything resembling Italian food. Thirty minutes later I’m sat at the sushi place and overhearing the conversation of two American girls at the table next to me, discussing slang words from different countries. “Have you heard of the word ‘chav‘”? I giggled, and they asked me if I was from England. And so a long night of conversation began. Our world’s as it turned out were completely different, they were the most religious girls I’d ever met, and I find these sorts of subjects fascinating, hence we stayed talking on the terrace bar at the hostel, where they were also staying, until 2.30am. They were so honest about their religious views and lifestyle, and yet so willing to hear my opinion at the same time. From looks to lifestyle we were polar opposites, yet I love that staying in a backpackers allows you to meet people from all walks of life that you may not cross paths with on a day to day basis. We didn’t swap Facebook details, but that conversation is one I’ll remember for a very long time.
Not one to get up in a hurry on vacation, I eventually stepped out of the hostel just before lunchtime and made my way to the open air markets, where every possible leather bag in every imaginable colour is sold by a cheeky market man. Two foreign girls looked a little overwhelmed when the stall owner offered a bonus if they bought one of his bags, he’d come with the bag for free. Their faces looked a little concerned, I however found this hysterical and wound the market man up, before merrily heading off towards the food markets.
Fig muffin purchased, and swiftly thrown out after one bite, when I realised I’d made a bad choice, boooo, I continued on to view the Duomo, snap snap snap, arty photos taken, I was distracted by the Lindt store and soon forgot about the giant church glaring down on me. Mmmm chocolate. Yes I’m a bad tourist, so sue me. After the exhausting look around the Lindt store, it was time for coffee, where I watched the snake like line of tourists waiting to get a ticket into the cathedral. It’s true, I may not be very cultural when it comes to those sort of things, but let’s see here, I’m sitting in the sun enjoying my iced cappuccino and you Mr Tourist are standing in line for an hour, who’s the winner here? Gold medal for me I say.
Another hour or two of fabulous architecture and scary looking statues, and my quota of culture was more than full. Then I managed to stumble over a very avant-garde gelato store, decided my feet could do with a rest and discovered the amazing combination of ricotta and fig. Molto bene!
My shopping radar managed to locate Zara and H&M in the afternoon, thank goodness. I was feeling the need for some friends or familiarity, and travelling on my own I had to settle for familiarity. It’s amazing how those two shops felt like a piece of home 🙂 and yes I admit it, I spent more time admiring the new season’s collection in Zara than I did the historical sites, but hey! different strokes for different folks and my passion is for fashion so c’est la vie.
After solo dining that night, I planned on getting me some sleep, that was until the very loud Mexican-American girl arrived in my room, she made me look quiet. Finally resting my head on the pillow, I awoke a few hours later to the girl in the bed above me having a drunken conversation on her phone ‘Luca, L-U-C-A, Luca’ was all I remember her repeating and I thought back fondly of the cosy double bed in my lovely room in Venice, followed by more fond thoughts of how I could smother the girl with my pillow to make her shut up.
Next day drunken girl was feeling very sorry for herself with a deadly hangover and had no recollection of the phone conversations until I told her, and looked completely shocked when she looked through her phone at the number of calls she’d made to this so-called Luca. Despite my utter annoyance at her causing me such lack of sleep, I decided to forgive and forget and we went for iced-cappuccino’s. Sometimes when you need company, you can’t be too picky, even if you did have murderous thoughts of the person.
As luck would have it, I returned to the hostel later to find yet another new roomie, Malina from Canada, and struck up an instant friendship with this beautiful, bubbly girl. This people, is the pro of staying in a backpackers, I have met some of the most important people in my life just from a chance meeting in a shared room in some random country. Drunken girl, Malina and I agreed to go for Mexican that night, another restaurant on the hostel map that I’d scoped out in the afternoon and liked the look of. We were joined by Steve, an American who owns a frat-house in Arizona, too funny. We arrive at Tijuana a little dubious at just how good this food was going to be, but 20 minutes later it arrived to the table and whilst drunken girl and Steve discussed wines from different regions, Malina and I bonded over queso dip and burritos ‘OMG this dip is amazing!” “Yummmm this burrito is soooo good”, it was official, we were definately destined to be friends. I recommend checking out this restaurant if you ever need a break from pasta in Florence, and it turns out the Jersey Shore girls are also fans, as I spotted them dining there in one of the JS episodes.
The next morning it was adios Firenze and on to my next adventure at my villa in Tuscany, first drama, my 5 euro fine on the train for not validating my ticket. Mr Train Inspector, I hope you enjoyed your coffee that you no doubt bought with the money you insisted I hand over. Not a good start to the day….