Friday, January 13, 2012

Passport to Paris 2: Rise of the Venetians

Let us continue lest we forget everything that happened over Christmas break.

Let's see, where were we? Ahh yes. The train ride.

So we had booked an overnight sleepy train ride on Christmas Eve to go from Paris all the way to Venice. (Which is in Italy, for those of you without a map. You know who you are.)

Our sleeper cabin was a sardine tin built for six, and we were prepared for that. When we got there though, there wasn't anyone else in the room. Just us! We were so excited, it was as if you'd told us we were on the Hogwarts Express. (Okay maybe not the Hogwarts Express. I would have exploded from a heart attack of happiness. Maybe more like the Polar Express. But definitely not the Orient Express. But I digress express.) Still, it was nice to be able to talk freely and take up multiple seats.

When we finally pulled out the beds, it was kind of a bummer for the person on the very bottom. There were these armrest things that stuck into the laying-down space making it, in my opinion, impossible to sleep without sawing your ribs off.

This is not a dramatic representation.

But, thankfully, we didn't have cabin buddies, so my mom just slept in the middle bed on the other side. What luck.

We didn't, however, use the comforters or pillows provided because the comforters had long black hairs on them and the pillows looked like they'd been beaten with an ugly stick. So we stuffed our coats into the pillow cases and just used the shrink-wrapped sheets we were given for warmth. It was fine though because the room was pretty hot anyway.

Then it was bedtime.

So we turned off the light and started going to sleep. But it was reeeally hot in the cabin, so after about 15 minutes of squirming, I asked:

"Hey. Would it be inappropriate if I took my tights off?"

"No, go ahead," said her mother knowingly.

I'm not even kidding, you guys, mere seconds after I took off my tights, there was a knock on the door. It was the conductor. He had a new roommate for us.

Well, idn't that special . . .

The French woman seemed to accommodate fairly quickly. After relocating the six hairy comforters and countless misfit pillows that we'd piled on her bed, she went to sleep. And I soon followed.

The rest of the night is kind of fuzzy, but I do have snippets of preserved memories.

". . . Molly, look at the mountains. We're in Switzerland."
"mnnggggrrhhhh . . ."
"Alright then . . ."

. . . WHY IS IT SO COLD IN HERE????????????? . . .

. . . I'M NOT KIDDING. WHAT HAPPENED?????? . . .

". . . Molly, help me turn the heat back on."
"Why doesn't it woooork???? OH GOD . . ."


". . . Molly, here's a hair comforter."
"Just don't touch it . . ."

Day 7

Good morning, sunshine.

The mountains had past. The French lady was gone. And the temperature was back to normal.

(We still aren't really sure what happened to the heat. I'm 99% sure it was real life. Amy and my mom confirmed that.)

So that morning, all sleepy and groggy-eyed, we arrived in Venice! Venice is a very beautiful place. But I will say, it's about two rainy seasons away from joining the water-logged city of Atlantis at the bottom of the ocean. It is really fun though because everything is a boat. Like they have bus boats and police officer boats and fire engine boats (which seems kind of counter intuitive) and even little taxi boats. Precious. So we took a bus boat to our hotel while, at the same time, getting some very nice views of the city.

The pictures are crooked because Venice is crooked.
I am a fantastic photographer.

Then we walked to our hotel but couldn't check in until 2:30, so we left our bags and explored a little.

San Marco Cathedral--One is silver and the other gold.
Just kidding. Everything is gold.

4, count them, 4 taxis full of Asian tourists
(presumably together)

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to check in. Then a sprightly but surprisingly strong little man popped in to show us to our "room," grabbed two of our suitcases, and walked us briskly to an entirely different hotel about 2-3 blocks away. I'm still confused as to what happened exactly. But we did finally get to our room which was essentially a double room with another bed squeezed into it.

Please note the headboard.

I'm so artsy I can't even stand it.

Oh we also walked into a couple of the churches before lunch and sat in on some of the Christmas masses which were, obviously, entirely in Italian. (Oh yeah it's Christmas, did I forget to mention that?) I actually understood some of the words, which was shocking, but I can say with 100% certainty that this was not the most cryptic mass I've ever been to . . .

We wandered around Venice some more that night before dinner. (There's not a whole lot to do in Venice, so wandering is pretty much your only option.)


Then we trekked back to the room where we watched a very flamboyant Italian wedding planner show thing before falling asleep.

Day 8

Took the bus boat back to the train station and grabbed a train to Florence!

Fancy gondolas and not so fancy bus boat stops

Arrivederci Venice!


Florence is SO fantastic. There's so much art and history stuff everywhere, and it's all so interesting! Amy studied there 3 years ago, so she was a very good tour guide for the 2 days we were there. So good, in fact, that I put absolutely all my trust in her and just went with it. Thus, I have no idea what we did. (Chronologically speaking) But thankfully I have a list of our adventures that my mom sent me. I will be using that exclusively.

Okay so there are a LOT of pictures from Florence. I've narrowed it down about as much as I can without leaving anything particularly special out. Here goes.

Let's just go through some of the key monuments, for all you travel-lovers out there.

1. The Duomo

The history of the Duomo is SUPER interesting, but also very intricate and detailed. So I won't get into that now. But maybe you should look it up. It's very worth it. Trust me. Start with this golden door. Just type in "Ghiberti Brunelleschi and competition" and you'll find something I'm sure.

2. Mooooving right along, to numero due--Orsanmichele. This is another church in Florence with very high ceilings and large columns.

The view from the third floor was spectacular.

Interesting lil factoid: Orsanmichele used to be a granary.

3. Here are some other random pictures that don't "deserve" their own block of text. They didn't do anything wrong, I just really love montages!

San Lorenzo

Palazzo de Medici and the de Medici crest

Palazzo Vecchio--See those little windows at the top of the main building?
This palace is so old, those windows were used to pour boiling oil
on invading troops. Awesome.

Inside, so preety

I don't know if you at home have noticed, but my hair has been growing fiercely and uncontrollably for the past couple months. Now, this doesn't mean it's particularly long. No, for me, this just means it's been getting really droopy and scraggly and, frankly, it's murder to deal with.

Since Amy wanted her hair trimmed too, we decided to do something about it, so we bought some scissors from a 99 cent store (yes, they're glittery), and started our own little hair salon in the bathroom. I think we might have some before and after shots? Yes. Yes we do.
So, before . . .

Aaaaand after!
Such an improvement, dahling.

Day 9

We went to the Bargello in the morning, which if I were an English major I would tell you that:

the Bargello : the Uffizi :: the Musée d'Orsay : the Louvre

But an English major I am not, so I'll just tell you that the Uffizi is overrated and it's not worth waiting out in the cold when you don't even know if you'll get to go in and the Bargello is right over there and it's super awesome and you should go to it instead because they have Donatello's "David" which in my opinion is just as impressive as Michelangelo's "David" and you can even see a COPY of Michelangelo's "David" right outside for free.

Go to the Bargello. You won't be disappointed.

So we went to the Bargello, HAD SO MUCH FUN THERE, and then went for authentic Italian gelato at Amy's favorite gelateria, Grom.

Grom is yommy.

We then walked to San Lorenzo for the open air market which was mega extensive.

At the market, my mom bought a leather belt from one of the vendors. He was so nice, and when we went to pay he offered to lower the price since we didn't try and bargain. Maybe he was lying. Maybe he wasn't. I don't know. But I feel good about it.

Then we went for naps.
 My life consists of naps and the time between naps.

We then walked to Santa Croce, yet another church, but this one is especially noteworthy as it is the resting place of many celebrated people like Galileo, Michelangelo, Macchiavelli, and Dante!

Then later that night we passed yet again through the Piazza de la Signoria, where the famous statue replicas are. Take that, Uffizi. Who needs ya when we have . . . outside David!

Then over the Ponte Vecchio . . .

For a lovely dinner on the other side. How quaint.

Then, with our bellies full of wine and pasta, we hiked up Mount Everest for a very nice view of the nighttime Florence skyline.

Day 10

The last full day. Again this was sort of a day of transition. We woke up and went to the train station to go back to Nice in the morning. (And Amy wasn't feeling well.)

When we boarded the train, there was some confusion with our tickets. (Confusion amongst the three of us. No one else was involved in this confusion.) We knew we had to change trains a couple times, but our tickets didn't say where. So I volunteered to go out of the train and see if I could ask someone or figure it out from a sign somewhere. T minus 10 minutes til the train left.

So I was over looking at the sign that said where our train was stopping when I heard a very little noise. Almost like a little flea inside my ear whispering "Hey . . . Molly . . . Molly . . ." I looked up and what did I see? My panic-stricken mother was running toward me, screaming my name, and frantically waving me to get my butt back on that train.

I didn't even stop for a second to think. I wasn't even thinking anything. I just ran.
I ran and I ran and I ran faster than I've ever run before in my life.

I ran so fast I wasn't even a solid object anymore. But not really a liquid either. Probably more of a plasma. I ran so fast I was a plasma.

When I got back to my seat, I looked down at my phone. 3 minutes. I'd been gone for 3 minutes.

Really?! (This has been Really?! with Seth and Molly.)

But to their credit I probably looked really confused and not like I was in a hurry to get back on the train any time soon. I think I just have that "look" about me.

We finally got to the hotel, and settled in for the night.

Day 11

I took them to the airport in the morning, and we said our tearful goodbyes. 


All in all, it was a really fantastic trip. And I hope reading about it makes you feel at least a little bit like maybe you were there too. But now, I'm off to form some new adventures. Maybe some that don't necessitate such long blog entries.
For they are tiresome.

You guys are super.

Amitiés :)

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