Florence: Day 1


Friday morning we woke up and took the high-speed train from Rome to Florence.  In only an hour and a half, we were standing at the Santa Maria station in Florence.  After arriving, we checked into our apartment.  Rather than stay in a hostel this trip, we decided to rent an apartment through  Having never used before, we weren’t really sure what we were getting ourselves into.  A little hesitant, we opened the door and found ourselves standing in a beautiful loft apartment.  The frescoed ceiling and queen size beds were nothing like the hostels we had been living in.  More importantly, we only five minutes from the Duomo!   

After quickly unpacking our things, we headed to the city center for lunch.  For four euros at I Due Fratellini (, we bought a delicious sandwich and glass of Chianti wine.  Sitting down outside the sandwich shop, we people watched while we ate our lunch.   

Energized, we were ready to see the city.  Wanting to see the whole city at once, we climbed the 463 steps of the Duomo for a view of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.  We couldn’t have picked a better day to climb the Duomo.  The temperature was perfect and the sunshine sparkled off the gold buildings. 

On the descent, we walked on the inside of Brunelleschi’s dome.  We were so close to the dome’s frescos that I almost felt like I was one of the character in the painting looking down at the parishioners below. 

We left the Duomo and reemerged into the city – this was only the beginning of a fabulous trip!  


Lauren Wallender, Elon University

Happy Backpackers

I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there‚Äôs so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.

Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014

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