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Published: July 15th 2015
After a lovely time in gay Paris, we took the Thello back to Italy. The train station is massive and the checked luggage is a bit of a trek, you'll see signs and you they aren't super helpful. It's on the lower level in the furthest back corner on the right if you imagine yourself standing in front of the train station and looking in. It's a GREAT deal though! HUGE locker for 24 hours for only 9 euros. We put two travel backpacks, a rolling piece of luggage and some misc bags in there and STILL had space. Unfortunately, Le Train Bleu (restaurant at gare de lyon train station) only has bar/lounge menu service in the hours leading up to the departure time for our train so we didn't get to splurge on a meal there, but did have the appetizer/tapas and a dessert. Susan and S. were in LOVE with the foie gras. It's VERY pricey, but it was a nice place to sit and chill before going to our train. We got our evening meal at Paul in the train station which had the best deal for your money and it was pretty dang delicious. Onto the Thello: I had pretty low expectations for Thello based on what I read, but I'm up for adventures. That said, this train is VERY OLD and EXTREMELY hot and very crowded and there's no A/C anywhere, not even the dining car. There's adventure and there's uncomfortable. Maybe it's nicer or there's air in the more expensive bunks? If you have a screwdriver you can remove the screws from the windows in your compartment and have the pleasure of air. The food in the dining car is frozen barilla dinners and weird pizzas that they heat in a microwave. Here's the best thing i can tell you: GET YOUR FOOD AND DRINKS BEFORE GETTING ON THE TRAIN and if you don't have small bills because their credit card machine was broken and they ran out of change. The bunks were actually pretty comfortable, and if not for the heat it would have probably been a more bearable trip, but like I said it's hella HOT in the compartments once you close the doors. If you really need to have a full day where you're going the overnighter is an okay way to get there, I've had worse travel experiences (certainly had better too) but if I could do it again, I would have taken one of the super fast trains newer during the day.
If you're going beyond Milan, don't pay for your onward travel via Thello's site, go to the trenitalia site or wherever you're traveling to next and get it there. The train arrived on time, but we were worried it wouldn't so we booked a later train out so had to wait in Milan for 2.5 hours which isn't super pleasant mainly because of the many people who want to steal from you. No joke a dude straight stood in front of us and eyed our luggage, eyed us, eyed our luggage and eyed us for several minutes before deciding we weren't suitable marks. He wasn't the only one there of questionable intentions. Anyhoo, we catch our train, easy ride to Florence and a short walk to the highlight of any trip for me: our SPG hotel splurge! This year it was the St. Regis in Florence. SO LOVELY. SO SO LOVELY. It was kind of funny though because last time I splurged on the Westin here and I was sad it was going to be a different part of the city, but they are like right across the square from each other. Yes, so I was definitely sold based on the bed which had a canopy and a chandelier (yes, the song is playing in my head!) and there was a little balcony off the room (to open the doors onto the balcony, they make you sign a paper saying you won't commit suicide and if you do, it's not on them). LOVED IT. First thing we did was take showers and a nap. Got up and went and had lunch at the restaurant I had one of the best meals ever at the previous time I had been in Florence, Ristorante Il Profeta, short walk from the hotels http://www.ristoranteilprofeta.com/ It was a great meal, should have stuff with pasta because that's what I remembered it for so I blame myself for the only OK risotto I got (but that's because it's made differently there and was like orange), but the appetizer plate and what my dining mates got was super delicious.
Susan and S. went out to explore Florence looking for some sort of crazy knife sheath thingy. When they got back we went down for the champagne sabering and going to be honest it was a bit dissapointing :[ They only did one bottle and you would have missed it if you weren't looking behind the bar. Thankfully, I was and that was cool, but I thought it would be more of a THING. For 12 euros I got three little apps including a fresh oyster (yuck) and two glasses of champagne. Susan had tea service. We then went back and had another nap and aperol spritzes on the balcony and watched the sunset. Later, we went on an ill-fated walk around the city and an ankle pain flare up, lack of decent food options and the fact that everything was closing at like 9pm (it was a Monday night) led to a bit of a breakdown in communications and fun.
Next morning we were up with the birds and off to the Amalfi Coast!
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