“Where’s the note from your parents giving you permission to fly alone? I can’t let you through.”
After these words left the British custom officer’s mouth, as you might imagine, I was a pretty angry 15-year-old girl. I mean there’s nothing better than flying for 11 hours only to find that you’re not allowed into the country. Because of a permission slip. This is my third grade field trip to the zoo all over again. Goodness gracious, I thought, this is worse than when Pretty Little Liars announced who A was. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that this airport situation was worse than Pretty Little Liar’s big A reveal… Or anything being that bad. But, nevertheless, it was still pretty darn unfortunate. After the customs officer confirmed that I didn’t have permission to fly from LA to London alone, he escorted me into a cozy seating area full of criminals who also didn’t get through customs. Oh the joy. To make matters worse, the people around me were dripping in a malodorous scent… The only thing worse than criminals are criminals who smell bad.
After about 17 minutes of extreme discomfort, Max was called and everything got sorted out. And I was ready to go on an adventure with my big brother Maxie. Oh yeah—I forgot to mention. It’s Julie (Max’s sister) here. I’ll be guest writing this blog post. So go ahead and take out your owls—this post is gonna be a hoot!
After Max and I left the airport, we went and got some traditional European food. I mean there’s nothing more culturally diverse than Subway… Right? Afterwards we went back to Max’s dorm room to unwind for a bit. In no time at all, Max and I were out and about again and ready to explore London! We stopped for some more European food (a takeout Chinese Restaurant) and went shopping. I got myself some pretty cute clothes at a flea market. The day went on and we wandered, took some cute pictures, and eventually we decided to go see the Broadway show Oppenheimer. Fast forward an hour and we were sitting in the seats in the theater. The show started and the first 13 minutes were great… I can’t really remember the rest. I fell asleep. I’d like to think it was because I hadn’t slept in 35 hours but you never know…
We had a 4:55am wakeup in order to catch our plane to Bologna, Italy. Oh the joy. Once we arrived in Bologna, we had two hours before our train to Florence. Guess what we did to burn the time? SHOPPING! We found the cutest little market and I got five items of clothing for less than 20 Euros. I found a peasant-style top for 7 euros (around $7.50). It was almost identical to one I saw in Urban Outfitters the previous week that was selling for $60. Score! We eventually ate some pizza and rode on the train to Florence. We found a nice little restaurant and ate some–PLOT TWIST–pizza and pasta. After our meal, we walked the half-mile to our hotel in the pouring rain. I’ll end today’s post with a haiku about Day 2.
The clothing is cheap
O. M. G. I am so tired
Please make the rain stop
After we slept in to a reasonable 10:30am, Max and I were ready to begin our Italian adventure! We roamed Italy, and due to it being Easter, the churches were open and I witness some of the most beautiful architecture ever. Pictures will be attached. We wandered the city of Florence by following the masses of people. There were street vendors everywhere—if you want an inexpensive selfie stick, Italy is the place to get it! I managed to get a super cute purple scarf for only 5 euros. Amazing.
As we were wandering, Max asked a vendor how much a painting of the city cost. The vendor replied 20 euros. Max, deciding it was too much, walked away. Max liked the painting, but not THAT much. The vendor followed Max and continued to lower the price. Max just kept on walking and eventually the vendor haggled it down to a simple 5 euros. Max went for it and bought the painting… Not quite sure who the real winner was here.
After a lunch of pasta and pizza (and a dessert of gelato), Max and I turned off Google Maps and started exploring off the grid. We ended up atop a hill overlooking the great city of Florence. The view was almost as spectacular as the guy I shared it with (love ya, Maxie!) After we were done soaking in the beauty of the town, we decided to get on a bus in order to get back to the city. This is when things went downhill and fast (in more ways than one). As we entered the bus, we asked the driver to buy two tickets. He said, “It free! No buy ticket!” And that was that. It turns out that that wasn’t that. After a total of 3 minutes on the bus, an Italian official asked to check our ticket and validation. But… we didn’t have a ticket (insert a real life frowny-face emoticon). We tried to explain our situation and the fact that the driver told us that we didn’t need one. The end result: He pulled us off the bus and fined us 50 euros for not having a ticket. We also missed our bus stop.
To those of you who want to use public transportation in Italy: you need to go to a drug store, pharmacy, or restaurant near a bus stop to buy a ticket. You cannot buy them on the bus, nor are they ever free. You can validate them on a machine in a bus. We learned the hard way.
We ended the day by eating some gelato. It was a gelat-of-fun!
I want a Pisa your heart. Or maybe just some pizza. Or maybe even both! Max and I achieved both Pisa and pizza in one day. We started off our day by getting on a train… Guess who didn’t check our ticket? Side note: the ONE time we didn’t have a public transportation ticket was the only time it was checked (as seen in day 3). Once in Pisa, we did some typical pushing over the Leaning Tower pics. We also climbed to the top! After, we walked around the area and visited the local cemetery—we had been DYING to see it all day! We also visited a local art museum and church… To finish the day, we decided to go to the bathroom! Side note: it costs money to use the bathroom here.
I’ve devised a list of things that cost money in Europe that are free in the states:
-sitting down in a restaurant
-a basket of bread in a restaurant
-water in a restaurant
-using the bathroom
-bags at grocery stores