Sunday, August 4th
I last left you at our arrival in Florence. Our hotel, Il Guelfo Bianco, was very eclectic and featured only three guest rooms on each floor. Here’s a peak at our purple room and the lobby.
Our hotel featured a nice breakfast of all organic and homemade food. We had what became our typical European breakfast of croissants with butter and jelly (they had the BEST homemade blueberry jelly), melon and I had some cheese too. We had early reservations at Academia to see the David statue. It was only a five-minute walk from our hotel and the line was nothing. Our Rick Steve’s audio tour was successful this time around! David was absolutely incredible. Everyone says this but he really is bigger in person than you would imagine. As Rick tells you, the rest of the museum doesn’t have anything to write home about.
We checked out a local artist painting a watercolor of the city skyline. We thought long and hard about buying a piece from him but ultimately decided it wasn’t wise for fear of bending it with two more plane rides to go. We wouldn’t mind having a nice skyline rendering to remember our favorite city (you’ll see the gorgeous city views we want to remember in a minute!)
We continued to walk toward the river to make reservations for dinner because our target restaurant, a place with only three tables recommended by Sean’s boss, wouldn’t pick up their phone. They were closed so we had to figure out a new place. I love all the narrow streets.
We wandered around in and out of shops for a few hours. We stopped at the statues and square outside the Galilee Museum.
Most importantly, we ate an epic lunch. Best. Sandwich. Ever. There has not been a day back home that I have not thought of this sandwich at lunch hour from All’antico Vinaio. Look at the line!
Sean mistakenly ordered one that was slightly pre-made (you could still add veggies). I got focaccia (so crunchy and fresh) with artichoke cream, prosciutto, buffalo mozarella, zuchinni and sundried tomato. We split it because I’m nice (and he bought me a glass of wine–only 2 euro–for lunch.) We eventually ate the second sandwich late in the afternoon.
After our lunch coma, we toured the Duomo. It was a really long line, but it moved fast. It’s not as intricate inside as you would think based on the gorgeous exterior, but nonetheless, it is still pretty.
After our afternoon nap, we got ready for dinner. But first we took a cab to the top of the city to San Miniato al Monte.
We took sunset pictures and enjoyed the views for a long time. We walked down the hill to a plaza with lots of people and vendors celebrating the sunset.
We walked down to the river and mistakenly went to the far bridge, so we had to hail a cab to take us to dinner.
A’gosto was famous but not overly touristy. It was dark and very intimate with pictures of celebrities on the wall. We met one of the twin brother chefs, who actually helped wait on our table.
Sean had the most delicious steak and I had artichoke and sundried tomato pasta. I was so full because we also had a large caprese salad and a platter of meats and cheese (to our surprise) as appetizers. We drank a bottle of chianti and talked about our future. It was perfect.
After dinner we walked to The Westin across the river and had drinks at the rooftop bar. It was a nice end to the evening with a day full of walking. Look how pretty the Duomo is at night!
Monday, August 5th
Today we endured a lot of heat before leaving Florence. We had breakfast at the hotel and took pictures outside the Duomo.
We walked over to Santa Maria Novella to find the famous perfume shop that Sean’s boss wanted us to get lotion from for his wife. After a little hunt, we finally found it and of course I also had to buy my own vanilla body lotion. Nuns have been making soaps and perfumes here since 1512.
We took pictures outside the church in a pretty square.
Next we went back to the sandwich stop for round 2! We both had our own sandwich today because dinner would be late.
We walked a bit more and finally shopped in the markets. We bought my mom some beautiful murano glass beads for her birthday, three scarves and a turquoise bead necklace for myself and some post cards. We got a smoothies because it was so hot. Not sure how it’s possible to have a lukewarm smoothie, but we did.
Finally we went back to hang out in the hotel lobby before going to the airport. Unfortunately, I bought this weird global postage and we struggled to find a mailbox that would take our postcards. We asked the friendly hotel attendant to drop them in a box, but sadly they haven’t found their way to my mom and Sean’s dad. Sorry! Wish we just took them with us to Paris to mail.
The Florence airport was super easy to navigate. I found it odd that the arilines (we flew Veuling Air) used large buses to transport guests from the gate to the actual plane only a few feet away. We landed in Paris at 9pm, but it took us 1.5 hours to get to the hotel by metro. We wish we would have just paid more to take a cab, but we didn’t know it would be such an ordeal until too late of course.
The Park Hyatt Vendome was a welcome place of relaxation and luxury after a long day on the go. We changed quickly and went to dinner at Tres Honore. It reminded us of restaurants on South Beach. We had a light dinner and dessert because it was past 11pm. I took the most heavenly bath before bed and easily fell asleep.
I’ll pick up in Paris for the last leg in our European adventure next week!