Sunday, July 22, 2012

More From Florence

Here we are waiting for our first train into Firenze from Rignano on Monday morning. The weather started off on the cooler side but warmed up for us throughout the day.

 Here we are in front of the Duomo. WOW! We hurried along the narrow old streets, trying to keep track of everyone, gawking at the gelato displayed in storefront windows, and suddenly we turned a corner and this gorgeous, almost other world building pops up out of nowhere. The lighting was perfect for making it look even more out of place-everything else seemed to be in shadows but the Duomo. Really, though, I was not expecting to be so impressed and somewhat baffled by the design and the grandeur of this structure. So cool. We got tickets for a tour up to the top.

Isn't this floor neat? I bet it was exciting for the architect and designers to see their ideas become concrete. 

 I like this picture of everyone getting closer to the top of the Duomo. Can anyone spot Kristin twice?
                                            A shot of the Babtistry from above and here are the doors.

 We made it all the way to the top. Heidi rode up in the Baby Bjorn strapped to Spencer. It was a brave thing in those winding staircases, but Spencer is super brave. Happy Heidi. Happy Family.
 This hike to the top was the start of our "Body by Europe Workout." We made up for some of our calorie shedding walks with plenty of gelato. Arancia was a favorite until the Pear in Rome.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Europe 2012: Traveling to the Villa- Firenze

A Green family trip to Florence planned for a week stretched into five weeks in Europe for Spencer, Heidi and I. This came about because we love to travel together and was made more realistic in part when Spencer was able to get funding to an academic conference in Germany during the first week in June. Our route was Florence-Rome-Venice-Paris-Switzerland-Goettingen. I am beginning this post while we are are in Switzerland. We took a train to Philadelphia which was really quite pleasant. Then our over-night flight to Paris was a sweet dream for Heidi, a film sampling for Spencer and an extra-long flight with a sleeping baby on my lap for me. I got a wink of sleep which is better than none and we were so grateful that Heidi could have such a peaceful flight. Other passengers even complimented her on her calm trip when we landed. Unfortunately, our plane was late and so we missed our connecting flight to Florence. We were thrilled with the airline's first proposal of putting us up in a hotel in Paris until there was an open flight for the next morning but somehow that quickly turned into a flight 8 hours later and a meal voucher. During our meal, we sat next to a couple who ordered the beef tartar. Beef tartar = a good sized pile of completely raw ground beef topped with a raw egg. Welcome to foreign. Seeing them eat forkfuls of that was baffling. After our meal, we returned to our terminal via the shuttle bus, where we tried to get comfortable enough to nap.

 After a while, I thought we might be able to get on an earlier flight, so I approached the counter. I was given a negative response so I turned around to head back to our cozy lime green seats when I spotted Annie, Diana, Bryttan, Dylan, and Tori. Their flight left earlier than ours, but it was nice to visit and send a message of our change of plans to the Mom and Dad Green.Finally our flight came up on the screen to board, or it was just about to when we hear a name that sounds similar to mine being called up to the desk. It was my name and there was an issue. Apparently our original booking agent had failed to purchase or arrange an actual ticket for Heidi's flight from Paris to Florence. After our confusion and their apparent inability to fix the issue with their sister airline we were required to purchase a ticket for Heidi I order to make the flight which was totally boarded by the time we got there. Oh, it was so frustrating especially after spending all day in the airport, we were angry that someone had not worked out the ticketing mistake sooner. We have learned that "forbidden" is used often by European English speakers.

The flight to Florence was quick and it was a relief to land in a small airport with a country smell in the air. We took a bus into Firenze(Florence) to the train station where we hoped to find Papa Green or someone from the family waiting for us. As the bus drove past the station's entrance, I glanced over and saw the blue and grey on a man I thought could be Jon. It was him! We were so glad to see him and he us- finally at around 10 at night.Apparently he had only seen Erin and Soren and had not heard that we would be coming later. The next train to Rignano Sullivan Arno, which is the stop closest to the villa, was not until after 11p.m. A very friendly couple from the area gave us a generous hand with our luggage at our stop. They admired Heidi and then went happily on our way. To me they had a delightful cartoonish quality to them. He was lanky and tall with a friendly face and she was shorter and slightly plump with frizzy hair. Mamma Green was there waiting for us with the shuttle car. The ride up the winding and narrow, yet mostly vacant dirt roads was jarring after two days of travel and holding Heidi on my lap. Ok, some roads were paved, most of them. Anyway, we pulled up to the fortress villa very glad to be settling in to our Tuscan home. It was so much larger than I had imagined and with loads of stairs and an enormous kitchen.