Today was incredible. I can't even begin to describe it, but I'm jet lagged still and not really tired so I'm going to try.
Alanna and I both slept til like 12 today. We stayed out pretty late last night with people from our program. We found a couple cool spots to hang out, but it seemed like a lot of places that would be like American-style bars closed early. We did find this one Irish pub with lots of American students though, and it was good to speak in English for a little bit.
After we finally woke up this afternoon, we wandered out to find this sandwich shop that Alanna's friend had told her about. We finally found it and the sandwiches (which were like $5) were awesome. Super fresh, made to order. I had foccace with prosciutto, mozzarella and tomatoes. I've noticed that everyone here pretty much eats prosciutto in some form with every meal.
We then decided to go to the Boboli Gardens, which are these huuuuuge gardens behind the Pitti Palace. We first had to get museum passes, and we got to the office where you buy them right at closing time (~3 pm). We sweet talked the lady and managed to get our student passes, otherwise we would have had to wait til Tuesday. The pass was 40 Euro but it lets you get "free" tickets to all of the famous museums. It's well worth the investment for a nerd like me.
Walking around the Boboli Gardens was incredible. It was nice to hang out in a green space for a while too— that's something that I'm missing about home. The city is awesome but there's not a ton of fresh air here. We all decided that we'll probably be studying there a lot.
We headed home to change/relax before dinner. We then met up to eat at this awesome little restaurant near the Medici Chapel. Our waiter was the coolest. He gave us all nicknames— one girl was The Boss, another was The Princess etc. My name was the First Minister.
I had this amazing baked lasagne. It was SO GOOD and an appropriate sized portion. That's something cool about the food here: it's the right size. Not too much, not too little.
Alanna, Patrick, Brian and me (which had kind of become our little crew) decided to try our luck with the Florentine nightlife again. We met up with two other girls that they knew, and then headed across the Arno (the river that runs through Florence). We found another Irish Pub, but this one had a lot of Italians.
All of the sudden, this group of young men at the bar break out into the Italian equivalent of Happy Birthday. Then one of them came to our table and asked Alanna to give the birthday guy a kiss for good luck. We laughed and she gave him a kiss on the cheek. Next thing we know, we're all hanging out. This group of guys turned out to be a traveling club soccer team from Milan. We had a picture taken with them, and they spoke super broken English. With my knowledge of Italian, and their attempts at English we managed some conversation.
There was a funny moment though when one guy, Andrea, was trying to convince us to come with them to the disco (dance club) nearby.
"We go to bar...now...then disco...then bedroom."
Alanna and I were a little taken aback and gave each other the hell no look. But then we realized what he meant. He repeated the sentence, but this time pretended to be asleep with the word "bedroom." He then said:
"I uh-sleep. Then am new person."
We gathered that he was saying that he was partying tonight and would sleep tomorrow. He and his friend Francesco mainly talked to us about Florence, and they seemed pretty nice. Since we had boys in our group and I had pepper spray in my bag, we decided to follow them to the disco.
We first went to a piazza full of Florentine locals. It was so cool to see real nightlife. Andrea introduced us to his father and a bunch of other older men. One asked if I was his girlfriend and told him I was pretty. He quickly explained that we had just met. I could understand most of what was being said around me, but I wasn't really able to participate in the conversation because of the incredibly fast pace at which everyone was talking. It was so cool though to be so immersed in the language and culture.
Ten minutes later, we started walking to the Disco. It was close to our house actually (back across to our side of the Arno). But by the time we got there, it wasn't worth it to go in. We have a 2:30ish curfew, and we would have only been able to go in for about 30 minutes. With a 10 Euro cover, it didn't make much sense.
After saying goodbye to the soccer team (with double cheek kisses from them all— it's customary to do that when you meet and say goodbye, no matter how long you've known the person), the four of us headed home.
We made one final stop at a central american bar (in the Italian sense of the word, with pastries and coffee and some alcohol). The other three tried a south american beer, but I just wanted a nutella crepe. I felt like my priorities were in order. It was delicious, but soooo sweet. I definitely could only eat one of them, but then again one crepe is huge.
Brian and Patrick walked us home. I was grateful that they hung out with us all night— it made me feel super safe. I don't think I would have gone with the soccer team if they hadn't been there, but this was honestly one of the coolest things I've done in a while, and I feel like I owe my safety/comfort to them.
I had a blast today and tonight. It was the kind of experience that I had so hoped to have before I came over here, but wasn't sure if it would happen. After writing this I'm kind of sleepy. Hopefully I can FINALLY go to bed.
Tomorrow I think we're climbing the Duomo. I'll have to remember to put my memory card back in my camera. That's why I don't have pictures today. Alanna took some at the Gardens, and a few at the Irish pub. The Italians took lots of pictures with us (American girls are kind of a novelty), but I'm not about to hand out my contact info to randos.
P.S. Last night I fell off of a curb and twisted my ankle really hard. It's legit swollen today, and I've been taking ibuprofen and elevating it. I can't really rest it though because we have to walk everywhere in the city. This will be fun.