Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bern to Florence

This morning I woke up to the sound of Thisan having a loud conversation with Marvin. I had earplugs in, so I'm pretty sure everyone woke up to the same sound.

The whole day went by quickly, but the morning especially. I had breakfast, said goodbye to Toni and Becky, and went to the train station. It was an hour until the police office opened, so I reserved tickets for the train and sat in a tucked away corner for the remaining half hour. The police were really efficient and concerned but stoic, it was great. We finished in just enough time for me to run to the train.

The train first ran from Bern to Brig where I made a transfer. In my opinion, the scenery goes downhill once you get out of Switzerland (no pun intended). Brig to Milan was the next leg. Milan didn't make good impression on me from the train station. Milan to Florence was the last step. Upon arrival I rushed from the train station across the Arno river to a hostel I'd read about. Unfortunately, the hostel was full — this is the first time that's happened to me. But I'd rather have that happen every so often than keep track of where I'm going to be in two days, booking in advance.

It's worth mentioned how sketchy the entrance to the hostel was that I ended up staying at. At first, you just walk past it, not realizing there is a door or a number. Then, once you see it, you're certain it couldn't possibly be a hostel. In fact, the door only takes you to a narrow courtyard, offering a few more doors and hallways as possibilities. If you guess right, you have to ascend fifty long anonymous stairs up two flights before arriving in a large space with deteriorating frescoed walls.

The girl helping me with a bed said it's a church that's been renovated for use as a homeless shelter in Winter and hostel in Summer, which is perfect. So long as the homeless can find it. They didn't build anything permanent it seems, but everything is clean and well kept, and everyone who works there is friendly.

The only dorm mate I met was from Colorado. He had been biking and was traveling with a very small backpack. Later he explained this was because all his clothes had been stolen. Twice. There was someone else staying in the room but I never met them; they returned after I fell asleep and left before I awoke.

What was left of the night I just spent sitting on the bank of the river eating a sandwich and fruit I made from some supermarket supplies. It was a slightly cool evening — in retrospect, a non-representative beginning to my stay in Italy.

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