I am here in Firenze! I made it!
There were hiccups but I got here and just had a good night's rest and a wonderful breakfast. First, I discovered that my name was not on the roster for the flight from Amsterdam to Florence. It turned out that there had been no reservation. I know I sent money via a wire transfer, so I am thinking that I am the victim of a scam. I chose to buy a new ticket as, fortunately, there were seats on the plane, so that I paid twice the original ticket fare but it got me here. Then, as I was en route, I checked my notes and realized that I had not updated my hostel reservation after having extended the term of my trip. I remained calm, and was lucky to find the airport shuttle bus to the central station downtown. I opted to go to the hostel anyway, and see if there was room. After a quick taxi trip, I talked to the desk clerk who found me on the system though I did not have the reservation number. Fortunately for me, there was one no-show so there was one space available on a bunk in a mixed dorm. I grabbed it! It was midnight, and I settled in quickly and soon fell asleep despite the noise of the street traffic from the open window. I awoke precisely at the start of the breakfast time, at seven o'clock. After a quick rinse in the shower, I dressed and went downstairs to be greeted by an incredible spread of food in a charming grand dining hall adjacent to a garden from which the sun shone and the birds twittered. (One sparrow flew in and landed on a neighbor's plate to nibble at the eggs but I shooed it away.)
Yesterday, I finished up my short excursion as a tourist, riding along a canal and walking through a park in the hot sunny weather before stopping to leisurely have a sandwich and tea, then browse through a progressive bookstore. I bought a book about China's economic activities in underdeveloped countries and the experiences of its laborers abroad. I also browsed through a flower market and bought some seeds as gifts for the sibs with houses.
Then I returned one last time to the office to hang out. I was fortunate and privileged to have some time to chat with our leader, which was a time I shall treasure. He is interested in the book on China, by the way.
Actually, I have continued to read The Life of Pi and am nearly three-quarters the way through after reading at a cafe and then making the journey to Florence. One hundred pages of the book describe the protagonist's journey as a castaway on a life boat. They read like a journal. The guy, a person in real life who lived the main facts of this story, apparently, in fact kept a brief journal as well as he could in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is hard reading it through for the detail, the harshness of the circumstances and the suffering it recounts.
This is a large hostel in the heart of the old part of the city and close to all the important historical, cultural and religious sites. It is humid and there are a few mosquitoes about. There are many Asians here, probably due to targeted advertising. In fact, there are a lot of South Korean youth here. I cannot escape them!
I am hanging around so that I can switch rooms by eleven o'clock and settle in to my designated bunk area. I will walk around in the interim, after I check out a map.I am surprisingly calm, yet pleased. Indeed, you could feel the excitement and joy of the passengers on the plane last night as we approached Firenze. As soon as we got into the city center, the presence of tourists, many of them English speakers, was obvious. I think there would be a lot of students here right now, before the general tourist crowds arrive in July at the peak of the tourist season. I am eager to join them to take in the fabulous wonders that I have always heard about and longed to see in Florence.
I am off to a good start, having reveled in the breakfast fare that is included with the accommodation fee. I had eggs Florentine, lasagna, whole wheat bread, oranges and grapefruit, coffee, juice, chocolate and orange marble cake, tiramasu cake, and a poached egg with bacon. That is just the beginning of my dining exploits!
By the way, I bought an adapter for the power cords and rechargers of my camera and laptop, guaranteeing that I can stay on line and write here, and include pictures, once I get settled and can leave the equipment to recharge today.