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It is a big one....part four

Siena to Florence

Siena to Florence

We are in Siena until the afternoon and then we move onto Florence today, we saw a bit of Siena last night, but we both are looking forward to seeing it during the day. We both woke up around nine or so and headed downstairs to breakfast as it’s included in the hotel rate. The selection at breakfast was the usual things but the food didn't look that great… the eggs were really runny. So we avoided the hot food and stuck to cereal, which was the safe choice, Amanda had a tea with breakfast but we asked if we can get some milk for the tea. When the lady brought out the tea it was so cold that it made the tea instantly cold, I poured some into my coffee, also making it instantly cold.

After breakfast we went back up to the room and put the small amount of stuff we had taken out of the luggage back in and checked out. We left the hotel just before eleven, leaving the luggage there, besides the camera, map of Siena and our phone and started to walk to our first stop on the map. Our hotel is conveniently located on the main street in Siena, near all the shops, and just a five-minute walk to the main square. Our first stop was the main church in Siena, it was around a 10-minute walk, but it was a really gorgeous church, we didn't go inside as you had to pay, but the outside was still stunning.

The church itself was not huge like other churches in Siena, but still it was stone white and had a great amount of detail in the sculptures on the exterior, as well as there being a pattern with the stone used. We walked around the outside of the church, and sat on the steps just looking at the square the church is in and the church itself.

We moved on to the basilica, Siena is such a confusing place to direct your self around, due to the streets being so narrow and all you can see is the surrounding buildings. Not all streets have street signs and not all roads on the map were marked. As we tried to make our way there, I lead us down the same street three times as I was sure we had to turn off that particular street. But due to my lack of direction, it lead us to the basilica.... well almost, as we were on the bottom of the hill and the basilica was on the top, no stairs leading up, we still had to get to the top.

Along the way we found a fountain, the fountain was built in 1169 or something like that, I know it was around the twelfth century. It was not really a fountain, the photo will explain it better, but it was a really nice little quiet spot in Siena, the water was crystal clear with heaps of coins at the bottom and a few fish swimming around. We sat down right in front of it as we looked on the map to figure out our way to the top of the hill.

We started to walk, still getting very confused at every corner, but we just walked the direction we thought it would be, as it was a large building for Siena so it stuck out and every now and then you would catch a glimpse of it, helping our direction. Siena is very hilly, some quite steep taking it out of you, as we climbed the hills we found a spot that had a great view just before the basilica and sat and looked at the spectacular view it offered.

We got to the basilica and one or two Asian tourist groups, as usual for the world, surrounded it. It was a red brick building, very average looking on the outside. Entry was free so we had a look inside and the inside suited the outside, being very ordinary, at least we came, we saw and we conquered. Now it is just after eleven, eleven thirty and we headed back to the main square of Siena to have a coffee and I wanted to climb the massive bell tower in the main square.

We got to the square without any confusion of directions, we found a place to sit down and have a coffee. Most places, if not a bar or a typical coffee shop, seem pissed off when we just order a drink and no food, even when the place only has couple of patrons. We ordered our drinks, the weather is really good today, sun is out and shining, still cold but not that bad. I drank my coffee and Amanda stayed at the cafe drinking her tea while I headed up the bell tower.

Amanda didn't want to go up, as there were supposedly around 400 steps to the top, so I headed up there without her. You first walk into a courtyard, with a Christmas tree in the middle, I searched for the sign for the tower. Everything was in Italian and which did not make it easy, the sign lead me to very narrow and small steps, I walked up hoping its wasn't like a staff only or random staircase leading somewhere I shouldn't be. The stairs got narrower and tighter before they widened leading me to the ticket office.

The ticket to the top cost eight euros, I started to walk to the top, walking around and around the spiral stairs, it was really tight, every now and then you had to pass someone, making it very difficult, while one person waits in the corner and the other squeeze pass them. As you made your way up, small open windows appeared, and you could see how high you were getting, eventually I made the top.

The view from what I thought was the top was just spectacular and really amazing, it was a clear day with the sun out and you could see the whole town right up to the mountains outside of Siena. Was such a great view, then there were more steps leading up, I walked up them, thinking this was the top, took some more video and photos, then found more stairs leading to the highest you could walk up. I really enjoyed it, as I was up there, I started to think if I was going to do bungee jumping I would be so scared.

I made my way back down the stairs, spending at least half hour walking up, looking around and walking back down. I made my way to the cafe Amanda was sitting at, we had a look at the time, it was ten to one and our train left every eighteen minutes past the hour. So we made the quick decision to go get our bags and go to the train station to head to Florence. We picked up our bags and waited for the taxi to arrive, by now it is one o'clock, but we made it to the station with twelve minutes to spare. With no reservation required as it is a regional train, we found the platform and jumped straight on, it was perfect timing.

As we got settled on the train, placed my big backpack in stow away up top, and Amanda's suitcase standing next to me, the police walked onto our carriage. They asked to see some people's identification, and as they did they would write down details, they wanted to see our passports, they wrote down some information, presumably our name and what not. We thought this was weird. The train trip to Florence was an hour and a half, we stopped at twelve stations before arriving.

Once we arrived in Florence, we had our printed copy of directions from google maps, we tried to find the first street we were meant to head down but our stomachs got in the way, we found lunch at a McDonalds near the station. We grabbed some lunch, nice big Mac meal for me and the usual fries, plain Sundae and coca-cola for Amanda. After our stomach’s settled, we headed to our hotel, with the directions we had from google, we walked down the correct street and the hotel should have been located on the right hand side. This was not that case, well it was the case, but due to our incompetence we walked down the street back and forth three times, only to find out that if we had walked about two hundred meters further down the street from where we thought we’d gone too far, we would have seen the sign for the hotel.

We made our way up the reception desk, it being in the third floor, the elevator was so small, I sent amanda and her luggage in it, as I walked to the level. (Amanda here: I’ve come to realize Harry is petrified of being in elevators, especially small ones so if he happens to join me in an elevator I jump up and down a little just to scare him :P) We checked in, they had a rack of books on things to do in certain cities that you could borrow, so we borrowed a book on Florence to check out what to see. Our room was alright, bit run down but still was nice, we had a view of the main cathedral in Florence the Duomo, which was really pretty at night, but when we say view it was more like the top of the Duomo and the tower that connects to it. It was a basic room that grew on us throughout the two night stay.

We relaxed in the room for a bit, Amanda went to buy Internet connection from the reception desk; she panicked and bought unlimited Internet connection for our whole stay in Florence. We researched what to do in Florence and did quite an extensive research on what we wanted to see and what we didn't want to see. As we went along we circled places on our map and bookmarked places on the iPad on where we will go tomorrow. After all our research we had heaps of places we wanted to visit in our only full day in Florence.

After all our research, it was around dinner time and it was too late to go see any of the sights, so we headed to a strip of restaurants the reception suggested, we found a cool restaurant serving typical Italian food, it was really nice food and a good atmosphere in the restaurant. Amanda had the lasagna she thought it was average, I had a pork cutlet that was covered in seasonal herbs and olive oil, was so nice and yummy, cooked to perfection, the juices and oil left on the plate was just soaked up by bread, a great meal for me. I ordered a beer with my meal, but for some reason instead of getting just a normal size bottle or a glass of beer, I got a whole litre instead… I wasn't complaining.

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Yummy yoghurt at breakfast

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Main church at Siena

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Me trying to figure out how to getto the old cathedral, i hate the streets in siena!

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Thats the cathedral i tried to direct us to!

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The small streets

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Fountain we found on the way

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View along the way to the old cathedral

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The tower in the square i am about to climb up!

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View along the way

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The tight steps up to the top

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View at the top

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My handy work at taking a photo witha timmer on

Posted by Harryandamanda 05:14 Archived in Italy

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