We were finally leaving! Everything was packed, and we left for the airport around 8:00 am. Our first flight was from Columbus to Chicago. Due to the time zones we were leaving at 11:01 am and arriving at 11:16 am. Not everyone had chosen the faculty flight, but a majority of the students did and we were able to meet up while waiting for our plane. Once we arrived in Chicago we got food. I was wearing a drawstring bag with the OSU logo on it and got an OH-IO from a stranger within the first ten minutes. The first one of the trip!
The plane to Germany was huge! There were three rows of seating with two aisles in between. Our group was scattered throughout the plane. We had these awesome video players in the head rest of the seat in front of us. We were able to watch television shows, movies, and documentaries. They had a great selection too. I counted at least 50+ comedy movies alone. These screens also provided information about the flight like the speed, ETA, and the current location.
I actually ended up sitting next to a Michigan fan on the plane! She commented when she saw my OSU bag. What are the odds? We were all tired but excited at the same time. We had a big day ahead of us! We still had a flight to Florence from Germany and then a train from Florence to Rome.
I had a window seat and was able to see a beautiful sunset. It was golden on the horizon against the silhouette of the plane wing. At that point it was 7:20 pm Chicago time and 2:20 am Germany time. When we flew over Manchester we saw the city lights and the highways. You could spot each town by the clusters of lights and see all of the roads connected them. It was like little lit up spider webs all over the landscape.
While on the flight I woke up from a nap and looked out the window just in time to see the Swiss Alps! It was crazy. They stretched as far as the eye could see. I had no idea that we would be flying over them. We were close enough to see the ice caps and the green valleys.
The flight finally arrived in Florence. We made it! We were in Italy! Mellisa, our faculty director helped group everyone together. The worst thing possible happened to me. My luggage was lost!! I was devastated. I could not believe that this happened the first day of the trip. Turns out it was just in a different part of the airport. Mellisa was able to speak with the airport workers and find it for me. It was hard because Italian was their first language. At this point it was Saturday May 11.
No sleep! After arriving at the Florence airport and everyone claimed their luggage we boarded our private coach and met our tour guide. We arrived in Florence at 11:00 am. Upon arrival we were given ear pieces in order to hear our guide speak to us as we were walking. Our walking tour began as soon as we got off the bus. The guide was very thorough and explained the history of the town of Florence along with the buildings and statues that we passed by.
This building is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Construction for it began in 1296and it was completed in 1436. The exterior of the basilica is faced with marble panels in shades of pink and green.
I was surprised at how elegant so many of the doors and gates were in Italy.
This part is inside the Duomo. In the photo above you can see the designs on the wall. According to the tour guide people are actually buried in the walls behind the designs.
Our tour lasted until 1:00 pm. Then we were given three hours to explore the area. We split into groups and did some shopping. A lot of the girls bought leather goods. We were told they make excellent purses and belts and wallets. We were also free to grab some food. We stopped at a restaurant and had our first pizza in Italy! We also got some gelato. We met up again at 4:00 to board the train to Rome.
At this point we had all been up since 8:00 am the previous day. We had naps on the plane but no actual good rest. The train left at 5:04 pm and took an hour and a half. Nearly everyone fell asleep.
At 6:30 pm we arrived in our hotel and checked in. We settled down and unpacked everything and got dinner. I don’t have any pictures of dinner because my devices were dead from travelling and taking pictures all day. We were able to explore the area around our hotel a bit. We also found a great gelato place down the street!
This was the view from our hotel room!!! It was gorgeous. Some rooms had balconies. Others had multiple windows. We were on the highest floor with no balcony. Since we still didn’t have phone service we had to write down everyone’s room numbers to go visit them. We had a blast checking out how each room was different. Jack was my roommateand we got along well. Our room had a bathroom and two beds. The hotel workers were very courteous and friendly. We unpacked everything and laid out our clothes for the next day and went to bed! We were all exhausted.