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A Florence Fiasco This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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As we walked down the narrow, cobblestone street to our Florence, Italy, hotel, I could feel myself holding my breath.

“Don’t expect anything special. In fact, this hotel room will probably be the smallest one we stay in this whole trip,” my mom warned. After the cramped basement apartment we stayed in while we explored Cinque Terre, this was very bad news.

Looking to my left and right, first at my younger sister and then at my older sister, I sighed. Two weeks speaking only to my four family members was tearing at my last frayed nerve.

My dad walked up to a wrought-iron gate and pushed it open. “Well, here we are. Try to behave, girls,” he cautioned.

My sisters and I collectively sighed and followed our parents into an old, brick building. We wound up two flights of stairs to the third floor.

What kind of hotel starts this high up? I thought to myself.

“Oh yes! Welcome, welcome!” the receptionist chirped excitedly upon my mother’s request to check in. “Okay, we have you in new suite. Out back.”

Out back? I couldn’t help but twist my face in confusion. But, faithfully, we all followed the man down the two flights of stairs and out behind the main building. Sure enough, there was a little cottage-type suite hidden in the courtyard.

The man left us there with two sets of keys and scurried back to his post.

I scanned the faces of my family members. Puzzled faces all around. Slowly, my dad pushed the key into the locked front door and it clicked. The doors swung open and I watched each person’s face slip into awe.

The suite was beautiful. With two bedrooms, a state-of-the-art bathroom, a full kitchen, living room with sleeper sofas, and a full-sized dining table, this place was far from the smallest accommodation thus far. Immediately we started claiming beds and preparing to explore.

At last we set off, not to return for hours. Upon our return to the suite, everyone collapsed into bed, exhausted from that day’s adventures. Adventures that made waking up the next morning that much more difficult.

“Wake up, wake up! I’m hungry. Let’s eat!” My little sister shook me awake. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I noticed my sister and parents were by the door.

“Do you want us to wait for you two or will you meet us at breakfast?” my mom asked, clearly hoping for the latter.

My older sister and I exchanged a glance and agreed to come up to breakfast as soon as we were dressed and ready. At that, my parents and little sister scuttled out the door and toward the main building, leaving my older sister and I to change.

At last we were ready, and we, too, headed for the main building. Locking the door behind us, we started walking. We reached the main building, and started climbing stairs and looking for signs of a hotel.

Feeling like we had completed quite a trek for so early in the morning, we read the sign that marked the second floor and immediately noted the word ‘hotel’. We headed in, smiled at the receptionist, and made our way to the hotel restaurant.

My sister and I looked around, trying to find our family. Unsuccessful, the chocolate-filled croissants caught my eye and we were distracted. We wrote off our parents’ absence to somehow missing them in the process of walking to breakfast. We engaged in conversation and enjoyed our breakfast pastries when, about fifteen minutes into the pleasant meal, our mom comes busting through the restaurant door.

“Oh my goodness girls, I was so worried! Thank goodness you are okay!” She hugged us, grabbed our hands, and whisked us away from our delectable meal. On the way out of the room, she tried to hand the host a few Euros, but the confused man denied them.

“Hey! What gives?” my sister asked my mom, clearly annoyed with the hasty exit.

My mom, confused, looked at us up and down. “You mean… you didn’t realize that you were in the wrong hotel?”

“But… but…?” I stammered. It was all I could do at the moment.

“There are two hotels in this building. Ours is located on the third floor. You chose to dine on the second floor,” she explained.

Receiving this news while walking down the stairs from the wrong hotel was too much to handle for my sister and me. We burst into laughter. The idea of two hotels, two competitive businesses, occupying the same building was such a foreign idea for our American brains. How could these two businesses prosper without any buffer distance at all? But hey, I guess that’s Italy for you.

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VeggieLoverForever said...
Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:01 am
This is really descriptive really very good. The hotel I stayed at in Florence was very simalar to this. The receptionist's desk was on the third floor and you either had to take this ancient rickety metal bar elevator that only could hold 2 people or you take the stairs to the third floor. The elevator and stairs were also very dirty. Like you and your family I was very confused and disapointed to see that. But when we got to our room on the very top floor that had it's own staircase, i... (more »)
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