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a bit of thought from a guy and his girl, "Standing Before the Face of God" …

Olympics!

What a weekend! We finally busted out our European Rail passes and put them to real good use! We went to Torino for a day and then headed back south and stopped in Florence!

We left Thursday night at midnight and took an all night train and got into Torino at about 8am for the Olympics! Somehow I was able to muster up 6 front row seats at a women’s Russian vs Swiss hockey game! I was bummed I couldn’t get to see a men’s game but it was well worth it! Actually, I could have gotten tickets to a USA Mens game vs Sweden but it was double the price (still worth it to me) but nobody else was such an avid hockey fan and didn’t see the benefits, so we settled with what I got! But hey, it was still compeletely worth every euro cent! Anyways, we picked up our tickets and then headed towards Torino Esposizioni (one of 2 Olympic rinks being used). We got inside and I went on a picture frenzy! I got pics of the arena, the seats, our awesome seats, center ice, warmups, the scoreboard, and videos too! Make sure you check those videos out. You will hear how loud it got in there! After the game ended (Russia won), we headed to find some food. We walked the streets a little bit and then got onto the train towards Florence. One thing we all noticed was how much cleaner Torino was compared to Rome. Rome is notoriously dirty though. But Torino was very clean, and for hosting the Olympics, it was probably even calmer than Rome. I really enjoyed this because we were somewhat able to just relax and take everything in!

It was definetely a nicer ride into Florence than to Torino. From rome to Torino, it took us 8 hours. To Florence, it was only 5! But we got into Florence, or Firenze in Italiano, at 10pm and found our hostel. It was seriously right in the middle of the city! Caddy-corner to the Casa di Dante (House of Dante- Dante’s Inferno, politician, etc.). Now, if you’ve ever traveled in Europe before and stayed in a hostel, you’ll understand what I’m about to describe. Hostels are extremely cheap youth traveling hotels. Some are run just like a hotel and others are more like people opening up their homes. Well, we got a 6 bed room and it was basically in somebody’s apartment. But we payed a very cheap price. Well, to make a long story short, 3 of the six people were completely out of their comfort zone and retreated to a more expensive hotel. Now, I’ll be honest, I would have rather stayed at a hotel as well, I was out of my comfort zone as well. But these entire 4 months are about experiencing new things…and I didn’t want to spend any more money too! The guys that worked/lived there were sooooo weird but turned out to be very nice. So me, Josh, and Mikey sucked it up and just stayed there and it turned out to be fine anyways…just very interesting! Anyways, the next day we ended up splitting into two groups. Us 3 guys wanted to site-see and the others wanted to shop. The first place we went was the Cathedral of Florence or the Duomo (House…the house of God and His People). It took 106 years to build the Cathedral! It can hold 30,000 people and if you would go online, type in Florence, the pics that will come up will be of the Duomo! It’s also the highest building (by far) in Florence. Now, because it was so high, Mikey and I wanted to climb to the top. We payed our 6 euros and began. Just to get to the Cupola where murals and paintings were above the alter, we had to take close to 350 spiral stairs. Now I got pics all online describing what I’m talking about, so check those out! Then after that, we decided to go higher! We went to the top of the dome itself! In total, 463 steps! The steps were disgusting! I can’t even think of a time when I was that scared (my dads belt doesn’t count!). When we started climbing over the arch of the Cupola, the stairs rounded with it, probably close to a 110-120 degree angle! Finally we came to the top and we both were crying like babies. There was no protective netting or extra-high rails, just the waist high railing overlooking the ground below! However, it was worth the climb! The view was amazing, you need to check out the pics and videos. And please excuse the video, my hands were shaking, it was windy and I was scared like a little girl! After the climb down, we met back up with Josh and walked around and did some more site-seeing. We checked out the Ponte Vecchio. I’m fascinated with this bridge. It was the only bridge in Firenze to not be demolished by the Nazi’s retreat during WWII! It’s been standing since 1564! I love history that is so close to my time, 50 – 60 years ago! Today, jewelers have shops lining the 2 story bridge selling their handcrafted gold, silver, and diamond jewelry. We also saw a parade that we believe was escorting some aristocratic family or politician and also checked out the outside of the museum that housed the Statue of David by Michelangelo. We didn’t know at the time that this was “this” museum and didn’t go in and when we found out, we were leaving and out of cash the following day. That’s the only thing I’m disappointed about from this weekend, not making it inside. As I said earlier, our hostel was across from the Casa di Dante, so we obviously checked that out as well as a few of the churchs and piazza’s in the area.

Florence was such a beautiful city. Very clean, very peaceful and calm. I would love to go back again (see the Statue of David!) and check out a few more museums and learn more about the history of the city. Overall, we saw so much of Italy, but not nearly all Italy has to offer. We’re going to Venice next weekend for Carnival so that should be just as fun, if not more! I want to ride in a gondola!

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