This trip to Florence was very spur-of-the-moment.
I still remember how I was in my hotel room in Vienna, which was the fashionable Le Meridien.
The Le Meridien had just opened in Vienna several weeks before my stay, and it was an ultra-modern and chic hotel. It changed the hotel trend in this city permanently.
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I had one week free before I needed to fly to London to meet up with someone.
So I literally threw a paper clip on a map of Europe lying on the coffee table, vowing to go to wherever it landed.
The paper clip stopped just short of Florence, a beautiful city I had last been to as a child.
So that same day I walked into a travel agency in Vienna and booked my trip to Florence.
Oh yes, and a vague resolution to fit a day at the Ufizzi Palace into my very empty week.
This was also the first time since my college days that I traveled anywhere without plans, family or friends — so it was rather an adventure for me.
She’d just arrived from Tokyo that very same day.
By the time dessert rolled around, we’d made plans to meet every night for dinner at a good restaurant.
It was the perfect arrangement, allowing enough freedom so that we could still do whatever we pleased in the day; but not allowing for many moments of loneliness at night.
However, even the hardiest of solo travelers will pine for some company once darkness sets in.
So every night, my new friend Keiko and I took turns choosing a restaurant from the plethora of choices Florence offered.
Then we ordered what we wanted, drank it down with a bottle of wine, and split the bill in half.
And utterly charming tiny restaurants that dished up pasta based on grandmother’s recipe to regulars at lunch for three euros a plate.
This was the Florence that never makes it to postcards but it was the city I fell in love with.
If I’d been armed with a guidebook, printouts from travel websites, and hundreds of tips and bits of information from well-meaning friends, eager that I see everything I should?
Perhaps not, because my Florence came about by accident – the result of a week of walking around alone without plans.
And sometimes that’s the best kind of trip in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.