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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Heading overseas

Earlier in the year Cheryl had suggested going to Lucca (Tuscany, Italy) as there were classical concerts there. I sort of ducked  this (by being vague) because a) it was "abroad" and  b) it was operatic. I did however look at Lucca and thought this looks fascinating.... and then said go for it.....

Alas after things were booked Cheryl found she really couldn't go and so rather than waste the tickets Tricia was asked if she would go. VERY RELUCTANTLY (it took all of 0.001 seconds for her to say yes) she said yes.

So I found myself on my way to Stansted Airport, for my first flight out of the UK in approx 18 years and those were on business trips to Luxembourg which involved flying to Airport, get hotel shuttle to hotel walk 5 mins to office repeat in reverse!

We arrived at the car park (Cheryl would say ridiculously early!) and the plate recognition software worked straight away. We picked the shuttle bus up wandered into the airport and found that they had just opened the checking gates, so we checked bag and went to have a breakfast.

Trish and I had a discussion on whether we could head into departures yet. Let us suffice to say that I was right ;) and we went through security and spent an hour or so looking at the shops (no Trish you can't buy a new camera or lens!!) and then when the flight was called we headed to the gate. Trish and I had upgraded our flights to Priority Boarding (worth £6 as it meant you got on your flight first avoiding, as Trev would put it, the peasants queue!).

And so I am on a plane. It took off and I'm going ooh look Trish that's Hatfield Forest lake!! I then realised Trish is not a big fan of taking off! She was ok after we were en route. The flight was fascinating, the field patterns changed between countries and at one point it became very wooded. We went over Zurich and then the Alps which still had snow on it which was very spectacular and then we went over the Med and to Pisa and landing. I guessed Trish would hate this so being a good lad I held her hand (she's going to kill me!). We did see 3 Little Egrets as we landed and loads of Feral Pigeons.

As we were wandering off the plane I was fairly relaxed my bag was there (it's a very unusual colour) as I saw it when they were taking them off the plane.

We went into passport control everyone was in a queue and we noticed a passport desk with no one at it. We went over and handed the official our passports. He never raised his head, looked at them and passed them back and we went to baggage where our bags promptly appeared!

So now the bit I was not looking forward to.... getting from Pisa to Florence. We came out of the airport and could take a Train or bus - they had been trying to sells these at the airport (Terravision) and on the plane (Autostrade - owned by Ryan Air) but we had hedged our bets and said no. To the right there were buses saying Florence. The Autostrade was leaving at 15:20 but the Terravision was off in 5 minutes (14:50) so we handed over our 6 euros and got on board. We were soon whizzing along to Florence and about 16:00 hours we disembarked at the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence.

Our initial research had suggested getting a Firenze card as this would get us entry to all city museums and free public transport for 50 euros. Importantly it would get us priority entry avoiding queues. They can be bought from information desks and we found the one opposite the station.

And where is the hotel? Down here? Here? Dam wrong road! ah! that is one we want....

I wasn't impressed with what I had seen of Florence so far (bit unfair as the bus and gone through the outskirts) but we turned a corner and WOW! The first sight of the Ponte Vecchio we walked towards it and on our left was our hotel! Not bad we arrived about 4pm it was a super journey. We checked in, dumped our bags in the rooms and went to sight see.

And let us bore you with photos!!

The Ponte Vecchio

walking through the outside of the Uffizi.

And into the Piazza Della Signoria...

This is a copy of the David by Michaelangelo. The original is in the Galleria dell' Accademia.

This couple had just got married. She was gorgeous.

We then headed back to the hotel for a shower.

The hotel didn't have a restaurant but there are loads of places to eat. We went into Guccimuseo's where I had Bruschetta with tomatoes followed by a Ham and Cheese Salad (sounds so much better in Italian ;) ) served by a charming waitress :)

These dogs looked pooped!

The Duomo

You can sightsee by horse drawn carriage

The Baptistry

We had an ice cream (well it is Italy!). I was boring and had Vanilla

Into the Piazza della Republica

Back to the Piazza della Signoria

Through the Uffizi

Back to that bridge....

And with the sun setting some well earned sleep. Tomorrow was going to be busy!


Eagleseagles said...

Beautiful city and you have captured it so well with your photos!
Love the description of the journey too!

oldcrow61 said...

What a wonderful place. The statues are very impressive. Looks like a great first day.

Ragged Robin said...

Looks an amazingly beautiful place Pete - your sunset photos are very atmospheric. I especially like the Duomo and the statues/sculptures look incredible.

Loved the tale of your journey - sounds remarkably hassle free :)

Look forward to the rest of your adventures.

Tricia said...

Thanks for holding my hand....made all the difference :)