Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
(If you missed part 1, be sure to go back and catch up)
Katie, Carolyn and I sat in the bar at Gatwick airport waiting to check in, talking about plans for our arrival in Florence and our anticipation for the cooking classes we were set to take with a famous Italian chef, Benedetta Vitali. At 6:00pm sharp we headed to our check in for Meridiana airlines. To our astonishment there was a big CANCELLED sign for our flight. There were many passengers mulling around, but no one from the airline to give us any information. Finally after about 45 minutes someone from the airline came to tell the, now very frustrated, crowd that everyone would need to stay together and be re-booked on a flight to Bologna Italy the next morning. From there we would have to then take a bus to Florence, arriving at approximately 2:00pm the next day. They put everyone’s name on a piece of paper and proceeded to make arrangements for us all to stay in the airport hotel and then to board the flight the next day. It was crazy, this whole flight full of strangers shuffling around together. Carolyn and I were scrambling trying to come up with alternatives. The way this airline operated so far it seemed unlikely it would actually turn out as planned. Carolyn started texting her travel agent and he started looking for different flights (I told you a travel agent comes in handy). Katie walked over to Easy Jet and found us a flight to Rome that night but by the time she finally convinced us it was a good idea, it was too late. They close check in one-hour prior to take off…No exceptions! So we booked a flight to Rome in the morning on Easy Jet and went to catch up with “the group” for our check in at the airport hotel and group comped meal…yikes…I won’t even go into details! We were seriously worse for the wear and had a few laughing attacks just trying to get to our rooms. The next morning we were up and out by 5:30 am, checked in early and made the flight…whew… Of course now we missed our first day of cooking school, but what could we do?
STILL trying to get to Florence
We arrived in Rome and went to catch a train to take the 1 1/2 hour train ride to Florence. It was blazing hot and now we had been traveling for what seemed like an eternity. This is when you appreciate the traveling companions you have chosen to take this journey with ….or not… Luckily for the three of us we were still in good spirits. Starving and hot, but in good spirits!
We got to the train station in Florence, easily disembarked and promptly exited the building. Only it was the back of the building. Where there was not a cab to be seen. Seriously? I mentioned a few times that maybe we should go back through the front and there would most likely be a Que. After some persuasion my comrade’s followed me and sure enough there was a procession of taxis lined up…yes!
As we drove through town the cloud was lifting – we had made it! We dropped the bags at the hotel and headed out to have a snack and cold drinks at an outside restaurant at the Piazza della Republica Square. Of course we didn’t realize there was a $6. EU charge just to sit there…not to mention the $7. EU for water. So much for trying to budget. We roamed around for a bit after eating, looked at some of the amazing statues in the different squares. A man was playing the violin and people were walking around eating Gelato. We were hot and sweaty and really happy. Our adventure had now really begun.
We went back to the hotel for a long awaited nap, showered and headed out to a beautiful restaurant on the other side of the bridge called Nove. We sat outside on a beautifully candlelit patio and had the most delicious food and amazing service (wiped the not so distant memory of that comped meal away in a flash). The people were so friendly and we had an incredible coconut pane cotta for dessert…The best ever!
We strolled back to the hotel full, content and excited for Benedetta the next day! More on that next time