One of the many funny signboard vandalism in Firenze
Back from Italy, took another 2 days off so I'll be back at work next Tuesday since Monday is a Japan holiday.
Reached home last night around 8pm, after around 18+ hours of flying from Venice - Munich - Tokyo - Osaka, it would have been worse if we hadn't travelled business class (thanks to all the mileage from Ryo's work trips). 12 hours on the plane was surprisingly easy to get through this time, with dinner for the 2nd hour of the flight, then 2 short movies (with lots of fast forwarding). Started to feel drowsy around the end of the 2nd movie, (thats about 4hours gone) reclined to sleep mode & actually fell asleep for around 4 hours. woke up to the 2nd meal, ate another hour, did crocheting for the last 3 hours & then we reached Tokyo around 3pm in the afternoon.
Our cash of 1.5k Euros was enough surprisingly, we had abit of a scare when we had only like 500Euros left for the last 6 days of the trip but my sister joined us and became the cash source while we paid for all places that accepted credit cards. Everything is so expensive! (after Taiwan) Prices are equivalent to Japan, or more, especially in Rome & Venice. Florence was slightly cheaper than Japan prices; it was actually my favourite city as well since it was the safest. no suspicious people lurking about, quiet streets with joggers/dinner goers, tourists wandering around, it's almost the perfect place to live if only it has more international restaurants. I was craving for some light Japanese / Asian food towards the last day in Florence, we were kinda eating only breakfast & 1 other meal per day since the 2nd meal is usually so heavy we didn't need to eat 1 more.
Claiming back our VAT refunds was a nightmare. There was a big group of Malaysians in front of us, around 7 pple who had probably done a round Europe trip & they were claiming VAT refunds for stuff bought all over Europe. We waited in queue for >1 hr to realise that we couldn't claim because we didn't have the customs stamp which was outside airport security (& almost screamed at the VAT refund person here) & we had to run out to get the refund papers stamped & come back through security & queue up AGAIN! The VAT refund was also the Travelex money exchange service and the people serving the counter were super slow. The lady in front of us wanted to change money, & the person took 15 min to conduct the transaction, including taking checking the passport detail by detail, photocopying the passport, counting the notes slowly to the customer 2 times (& losing count halfway through so had to start over again). Everyone in the queue was seething mad & many people actually had to give up their claims and leave when their flight made the last call announcement.
Generally the Italians we met were friendly & helpful; however, it was embarrassing the way some Asians behaved overseas. These people behaved like they were shopping at the market!! In the brand boutiques & outlet malls, the people from mainland China & Taiwan shoved and pushed people, spoke in super loud voices and were quite rude to the sales people. A youngish woman was like asking to see wallets in LV & she slammed the product she was holding on to the glass counter when told that the design she wanted wasn't available and the LV saleslady actually reprimanded her. "I don't like..." she whined. duh.. don't like can just leave the store right? not like this is the only LV in the world.
Overall I quite enjoyed the trip but wished there was more relaxation time in between. There isn't a single starbucks, (for non-coffee drinks) & all the bars are standing - sitting means u pay a 15% service charge, and i don't drink coffee! Gelatos are usually eaten standing outside the shop too and all the sitting was only done during meals & transportation rides. My legs & feet are still aching now actually. All the soft drinks are jacked up like 300% (water is 80cents in the supermarket for 1liter but 500ml is 3 euros in the shops)
Today I was supposed to clean up my study room which is becoming very much like a store room but fell asleep from 11am to 3pm (><) I guess i'll just relax and do everything tomorrow instead. Ciao!