Summer16 | Florence

Contrary to what everyone said, finding a taxi in Trastevere in the morning proved to be difficult every time we needed one. We either woke up too early every morning or everyone else slept in, because the streets were quiet and empty most mornings.  The latter is probably the case, considering the parties lasted well into the morning, every night and I do mean EVERY night. So on the day that we were leaving for Florence I set my clock early because I knew we needed to get out early enough to find a taxi to the train station.  And of course, we didn’t make it out at the buzz of the alarm.  In a full powerwalk we raced past our daily breakfast spot and headed straight to the taxi stand that we stood at a few days prior, in the same panic, rushing to get to our scheduled tour at the Vatican.  After waiting about ten minutes, I started to worry.  We have a 10:15 a.m. train to catch and at the other end of the train is our Airbnb host waiting to greet us in our apartment in Florence.  I’m ready to turn back and go to the restaurant and ask them to call a taxi, but decide to give it five more minutes.  Right at the 5th minute, my friend spots a taxi and waves it down.

Two minutes into the ride and it’s not hard to tell that the driver’s liver was still intoxicated. You could tell he had been up most of the night, if not all night.  He was spastic!  My friend and I look at each other as if to say, we may have found a taxi, but we might not make it to our destination at all, let alone in time to make the train. But first, he needs to stop and get gas.  Oh, don’t worry about us, we’re in no hurry.  That’s obviously what he thought, but the voice that was screaming in my head was saying what in the hell have we gotten ourselves into. I stifled the voice long enough to actually say out loud, “you need to turn the meter off while you’re pumping gas”.

Off we go, on two wheels while he’s slamming on the breaks, riding really close to other cars, jumping in front of cars and the scariest of all was as he’s zooming from lane to lane, we almost took-out a horse and it’s rider and the car who’s lane he jumped in, to avoid hitting the horse. By now, seat belts are on and I think my friends face was as red as a rose.

As fast as it started, it ended. It was as if he had taken Xanax while he was at the gas station. With no cars in front of us, it felt like we were moving in slow motion.

One thing Chicago has taught me, is whenever I get into a taxi I turn GPS on, on my phone. He’s pulling an old taxi driver’s trick.  They’ll either go the long way or the wrong way to run up the meter.  I’ve been quiet up to this point because I know everything that I want to say will cause me to miss this train, but as I’m turning my GPS on, I finally say, “Why are we going so slow when there’s no one in front of us”? He rambles something but picks up speed.  But he’s going fast in the wrong direction.  Now, I don’t care about missing this train, I’ve had it with him.  I ask, “Why we are going this way when GPS says you should’ve turned back there”?  He gave me some bull of a story about traffic but turned off eventually to head in the right direction.  My friend and I release a sigh of relief when we spot the train station.  No tip and I shorted him for the fuel stop.  He looks pissed.  Four eyes rolled.  Two heads turned.  Four legs walked.  Bye!

It takes us a minute to figure out where we’re supposed to be but we get there. At this point I think we’re both just happy to have made it in one piece.  So there we stood.  The board that lists the trains and track information are a bit chaotic but we figure out the method to the madness.  About 10 minutes before your train is scheduled to depart the track number appears next to your train number.  But wait…we’ve yet to see the train number that’s on our tickets.  After a while, I decide to go back to the information desk to inquire.  Thankful for calmer voice in my head, that was a good call.  They had in fact changed our train number.  Five minutes before the train was scheduled to depart, the track number appears.  This isn’t my first time at this rodeo.  I’ve taken trains in Europe before, when we get past the doors all of the tracks and their numbers will be in plain sight. Right? Along with at least 100 other people we roll our luggage through the doors and we keep walking but no one seems to be heading in the direction of what appears to be our track number, but we keep going.  All the while, I’m saying to my friend, “this doesn’t feel right”. I approach the vacant train and as soon as I step onto it, I step back off.  This can’t be it, it’s empty.  My friend looks left and notice that people are going down stairs.  We head that way.  Sure enough there’s another level of train tracks.  No signs, no one directing traffic, just stairs.  We head down and race to our train.  When we finally sit in our seats, I need a shot of something other than cream and sugar in my latte.

FLORENCE!!!!

We get in the queue for a taxi. I knew almost immediately that our luck was about to change.  The driver, all of 25, stood there in his skinny capri jeans and Chuck Taylor gym shoes.  To know me is to know that I have no love for man capri’s, especially the skinny jean version of them.  But clearly, he’s the reason this style exist.  He wore it well.  It. Ain’t. For. Everyone!  Some things done in Rome should stay in Rome or Florence, in this case.

It is here that I realize there’s a big difference between a female and male Airbnb host.

A very chic, well-spoken, older, but looks younger; smiling woman is standing at the door to greet us. She welcomes us with a hug, grabs one of our bags and we all head up four flights of stairs.  When I say flights, I mean like 25 stairs per flight, like steep concrete narrow flights, like no elevator in sight flights.

Now if you haven’t read my blog post on Rome, https://noirtraveltea.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/the-ruins-of-rome/ you won’t really appreciate my love for this apartment.  It is stunning!  It’s beautiful with a side wine (a whole bottle I might add), cases of free bottled water, beautiful matching towels and linen, dinner reservations on our behalf, a second set of towels for every bedroom, recommendations from the host on where to go outside of the ordinary tourist list and a list of the best local restaurants to go to.  The next best thing to a seven course meal is a seven star Airbnb.

Stay tuned for the rest of Florence…

 

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