Arising early yesterday, I threw on some clothes & headed to the kitchen for the free breakfast. Sadly, it seemed I wasn't early enough & just about managed to scrape enough fruit together, to fill a bowl. Afterwards, attempting to get organised, I showered, packed up my things & checked out of the hostel. I still hadn't actually worked out where I was going after Florence or what the hell I was doing in general, but let's face it, I'm not known for my organisational skills.
Deciding to stay another night in the city, I found a cheaper hostel online, not far from the train station for the night. Plus Florence, cheap, clean & fully equipped with an indoor pool, gym & rooftop terrace. Still no sodding cooking facilities though! In fact, this one doesn't even come with a microwave, you simply have to plump for the in-house restaurant. Moving my luggage to the new accommodation, I made it my mission to spend the morning laying concrete plans for the next few days.
Despite some initial gut feelings that were putting me off going, I eventually committed myself to heading to Venice next. My guide books had told me the fast train was going to cost about €45, which, I was nearly sick at the thought of spending, but seemed to tell me it was cheaper on the slower regional train. However, when I looked online, I could only find the hefty priced version & so, being on the budget that I am, I decided to take the bus, a snip at €24. However, with the website not being entirely clear where the bus depot was, I spent an hour stressing out, trying to find it. Eventually, locating it on Via Santa Caterina da Siena, I booked it for 8:55am the next morning.
The bus from Florence to Venice is run by a combination of three bus companies, Baltour, Eurolines & Sena. There are three departure times a day, 8:55am, 9:30am & 4:15pm, each taking five hours. The first two require a change in Bologna & the latter is direct. The first bus leaves from Via Santa Caterina da Siena, whilst the other two go from outside the city center. Hence why I chose the first.
Feeling smug with myself, I booked up two nights in the Generator Hostel in Venice, through booking.com & went off to enjoy the markets I didn't have time for the previous day. Firstly I walked to Piazza della Repubblica for the flower market, there every Thursday, 10am - 7pm. This was a little disappointing. In my mind I was thinking Chelsea Flower Show, in reality, it was a bad day at Homebase. Deflated, I popped down the road to Piazza di Mercato Nuovo, for The Piggy & Straw Markets. Stalls upon stalls, laden with brightly coloured fruit & vegetables, all willing me to photograph them.
Spurred on, I headed back to Piazza dei Ciompi to try to catch the Mercato delle Pulci flea market. Thankfully, this time it was open, although, not all the hut-like stalls were, which was so disappointing, as I could see through their windows & it seemed as though all the best ones were closed. Regardless, I still really enjoyed poking around at all the vintage ware & managed to buy a 1966 postcard, originally written & posted to Rome. Not exactly necessary, but I liked it.
My last market for the day was in Piazza Ghiberti, but this was a bum note, as it was just another leather market & I'd seen it all before in San Lorenzo. Having exhausted Florence's markets, I headed over to Via Ricasoli, to have a look around Galleria dell'Accademia & gawp at the wonder that is Michelangelo's statue of David. Gosh, it was magnificent, it truly was. How any man can carve such wonder out of stone, is beyond me! Although, I have to say, that penis was very detailed.
Evening looming, I retired to my hostel & ended up making friends with my Mexican roommate. Sadly he spoke little English & my Spanish is non-existent! We somehow managed to hobble a conversation together, enough for him to tell me he'd been to the train station & managed to locate the cheap ticket for the train to Venice! Bastard! Of course, it was all too late by then, I'd booked the sodding bus.
Leaving him my number whilst he was in the shower, I headed back out to Piazza Duomo & met up with Katie, a very talented illustrator & fellow Brit, currently living in Florence, who I'd been in contact with through Instagram. Ah social media, how you bring people together. Katie, myself & her Finnish friend Salla, took a stroll across the river to Piazza San Spirito, for a vino bianco, my first in two months, at a little bar called Volume. Sat outside, chatting away, the Mexican rang & later came to join us. Unfortunately, Katie & Salla aren't Spanish speakers either, so poor Mexico got the cold shoulder most of the night, which I felt quite bad about.
There I am, sat sipping my vino & as I look across, I see Beard's doppelgänger sat at a table in the corner, giving me the eye. Actually had to double check that it wasn't Beard! Same face, same facial growth, but no tattoos. Obviously I was interested & after a couple of hours of subtle glances & wry smiles, I eventually went & introduced myself. What followed was me discovering my future photographer husband & rolling into my hostel at 5am. Oh Venice, perhaps you come too soon.