October 08, 2004

Train to Florence

Posted at October 8, 2004 09:11 AM in Daily Life .

This morning (it's about 6:20 PM local time on Friday), R and I got up and had the hotel breakfast again. Lots of bread products here. I'm glad, in a sense, that I'm not doing Atkins anymore. In any case, the bread here is good and they even have cornflakes. I love the coffee, of course...mmmm....

Anyway...we got up, had breakfast, and R made a few calls to Florence. We had the realization that reserving a room in Florence when we'd be arriving Friday for the weekend might be smart. It turns out that we were right. Most places that we knew of were full or were full on Friday night. In the end, we booked one so-so place for Friday and then a nicer place in a converted palazzo for Saturday and Sunday nights. After this and another coffee, we checked out and headed for the train station only to find...our train was full. We didn't get tickets ahead of time...So, we wound up waiting for an extra two hours (more coffee...) and caught the next Eurostar direct to Florence.

There was a little comic relief on the way in that they actually assign seats on the trains, which we had only vauguely figured out coming into Venice because our train had been fairly empty. We knew which class we were in and clued in on that but when we got on, we just found seats matching the numbers on our tickets. Unfortunately, numbers are unique by car, not by train...about halfway through the trip, we found this out when someone wanted one of our seats. We were two cars over from where we were supposed to be. With all of our bags, we didn't want to move but the Italian woman was cool about it and just took an empty seat next to us. We managed to sit with some other Americans, including a youngish couple from New England and chatted with them a little (though we never exchanged names).

On arriving in Florence, we hiked the mile or two to our hotel, checked in and collapsed for a while. The place was much larger than our last rooms but with a shared bathroom and such. It's also up about four flights of stairs. Tomorrow, we move to slightly nicer surroundings. Seeing how it was about four and the
Duomo closes at five, and the Baptistry at six, we decided to see some sites. Our place is about two blocks from the piazza of the Duomo. We went inside, saw the cupola (amazing!) and I learned that I am able to screw up my digital camera. (That's sorted out now though...) There is a nice mural in marble of Ficino, which I might have pictures of, and a store down in the crypt. The Duomo is free so we're going to go back tomorrow (we ran out of time) and climb up to the cupolo and walk around the dome and the frescoes there.

The Baptistry is the spiritual home of the Ogdoadic tradition, one of the spiritual groups that I work with and the one that I've been the most involved in over the last few years outside of Dzogchen or Vajrayana. It costs a few euros to get in but we went in with an hour or so to spare. The inside is one very large room with tile mosaics everywhere, statues all over the wall and the interior of the internal dome is covered in beautiful paintings. I got pictures of much of it, including the axis mundi of my tradition with the palindrome. Those should come out...

With everything closing down, R and I left and got gelato again. Afterwards, we came here to the Internet cafe and decided to read e-mail and blog...We'll be here in Florence until at least Monday morning. After that, we may go to Assisi or Naples (for Pompeii) depending on whim. There is also the chance to visit Merigar, one of the homes of Norbu's Dzogchen Community, but it is really off the beaten path and we may not be able to really get there without renting a vehicle or spending a day or more to do it. We'll see. R really wants to see Assisi for some reason.


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