Monday, 24 January 2011

Italy... Day 3 & 4


The last 2 days we were in Italy, we pretty much stuck to Pisa. We did go to a town called Lucca for a little bit on Sunday, but everyone was a little stir crazy to see the Leaning tower, so we headed to Pisa after only a couple of hours walking around Lucca.

It was a cool town though. It was completely surrounded by a stone wall and the town center used to be a Roman Coliseum before it was turned into housing. We walked along a market and in the town center and just enjoyed the sunshine.



Oh, I almost forgot... that morning we went to McDonald's to grab some breakfast and saw that you could get Pecorino or Parmeseano-Reggiano on your burger. You could also get kiwi's on a stick...lol



After Lucca, we drove into Pisa and finally found the Leaning tower. It did take a while though...lol. We saw it from the road and knew we were headed in the right direction. We spent some time just walking around the tower and taking pictures. We had a blast trying to find the right angle to get the perfect picture. It was definitely one of those surreal, oh-my-God-I-Cant-believe-I'm-actually-standing-here- moments.




Sandy was hilarious. She kept turning towards the tower and not towards us, so I dont think we ever got a good picture of her...lol


We ended up eating dinner at a cafe right at the Tower. It was a little chilly, but we sacrificed to sit outside so we could say that we ate at the base of the Leaning Tower... it was pretty awesome!

Our last day in Italy, we decided we wanted to go back into Pisa and go into the Cathedral at the Leaning Tower and just spend some more time there.


We went into the Cathedral and it was breathtaking. There were frescos all over the walls and lining the walls and ceiling of the altar. Every where we looked there was art.... the whole place was a piece of artwork.





After the cathedral, we went into the Baptistery. We found out that they still have baptisms there. We climbed the stairs to the top and got some great shots looking down. You could also look out the windows and see the cathedral and the leaning tower.



As we were getting ready to leave, the guide stopped us and asked us to stay, that he was getting ready to demonstrate the acoustics of the Baptistery. We thought he was just going to shout or clap or something... he actually sang. It was just notes that he sung, but it was beautiful. Luckily, the camera has video and I thought to snag a video of it!
video

When we left the Baptistery, we walked into the Mausoleum and all around it. It was all open air, which was neat, but the walls were all completely painted and the fresco's were really damaged from years of weather damage. Some of them had even been removed off the outside walls and inside to try and preserve them.

One of the beautiful statutes


After we walked around, we decided to grab some lunch. We found the cutest cafe and decided to eat there. It was obviously a family owned place and it was cozy and delicious! We all kind of felt like we were at someone's house eating... the food was cooked right behind the counter and it was awesome. I had a caprese salad and ravioli in a cream sauce that was so light and delicious!


Italy Day 2...Florence!

On our second day in Italy, we decided to drive an hour away to see Florence! It was amazing!!! Even the drive was gorgeous...

The Italians call Florence, Firenze.

We got there about lunch time and found a little cafe to stop into. We had pizza, which wasn't that great (after all, Naples is known for their Pizza, not Florence), and we had Gelato and some little pastries... delicious!


After lunch, we started walking towards one of the many museums in Florence and we came across a street market. We walked around the market for a while and then, Liz and I were waiting for the girls to finish looking at something, when she looked to her left and said, Um, we need to go in there... you especially need to go in there. I looked up and there was a huge indoor food market! It was amazing!!!!




After walking around the food market (and spending way too much money...lol), we headed out and finally found the museum we were looking for... the one that housed Michaelangelo's David! I thought David was in Rome, for whatever reason, but nope, he's in Florence. And he's breathtaking. The way they have it set up, is you walk into this long hallway that's lined with other Michaelangelo statues and the very end of the hall opens up into a bigger space with a huge dome ceiling and David is right under it. You seriously cant see anything else but him. I cant even tell you what other statues were there (except Michaelangelo's Pieta, I did see it).



After spending some time with David, we finished walking through the museum and then found ourselves back outside. We walked towards this huge dome and came across the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. It was hands down, the most beautiful cathedral I've ever laid eyes on. It was stunning. Absolutely stunning. We walked around the whole thing and never got tired of looking at it.




There were statues right across from the Cathedral...they were sketching the cathedral itself.

After that, we found a place for dinner, where I had risotto (mine was better...woot woot!), and then we headed back to Camp Darby and called it a night. We didn't even scratch the surface of Florence and I really cant wait to go back! It was awesome!

Pisa! Day 1

Back in December, Liz and I started talking about trying to take a trip in January. We'd talked about possibly all of us going on a cruise, but could never find a really good one we wanted to take. She had a friend who was stationed at Camp Darby in Pisa, Italy and she posted pictures in like a t-shirt in the middle of December, so we decided we wanted to go there since it was still relatively warm! We started planning and then our boss, Sandy said she wanted to go and bring her daughters, and then Betty, who we work with, wanted to go too. So, we decided on a girl's weekend in Italy!

We left early on the Friday morning before MLK day and arrived in Pisa in time for lunch. We flew over the Italian Alps and I got some gorgeous shots from my window seat! Probably the most gorgeous thing I've ever flown over.


We spent the first day just kind of settling in. We stayed on Camp Darby, so we checked into our hotel, got our stuff put away, and went to the commissary for some snacks before heading out to downtown Pisa.

Let me just describe our trip into Pisa. We'd gone out right after we checked in to try and find a place for lunch. We had directions from the front desk, but never found the place we were looking for, so we went back to the base and had some lunch. We ended up having to rent 2 separate cars since we had 6 people, so Liz and I were in the lead in our awesome Smart Car.


We took a right outside the base gates and headed out on our way to find the lunch place. We got to a stop sign and had to turn Left. There was traffic, so Liz and I just had to go and leave the other car behind. Luckily, there was a pull off almost right in front of the stop sign, so we pulled off the road and waited on them to go. All of a sudden, I head Liz go, "OMG It's a Shim! It's a Shim!" I'm totally focused on the other car and making sure they can turn, so I turn to ask her, what? And I see it. A transvestite hooker sitting in a white plastic lawn chair, putting on her make up. Seriously. It was epic. Anyway. We thought it was just a fluke...a one time deal type thing. Um, not so much. There were hookers everywhere. And yes, we took pictures...lol


Once we finally composed ourselves, we made our way to Pisa. The funny thing is, that night we never found the leaning tower! We were right there and just didn't find it. So we just walked around the town and tried to find some Gelato. We never found the gelato that night, but as we were walking around, we smelled the most amazing yeast bread ever. We followed our noses and found this tiny little hole in the wall bakery and bought giant, sweet yeast rolls. Liz and I shared one and had it filled with Nutella. It was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten!




The rest of Mymom & Grampy's Trip

Okay, its time for a massive update. I have been awful at updating this blog and we've actually done a lot that needs to be posted...lol. Oops. I'm still laid up with the flu, so I'm taking my down time and putting it to some use.

I'll pick up where I left off... Mymom & Grampy's Trip. When we got back from Naples, we had to stay at the hotel on base since they were completely replacing our heating system in the house.

We took them to Cambridge and showed them the sights and then we went to London. It was a freezing cold, miserable, London day. I dont think anyone had that great of a time, which is sad considering how amazing London really is. We bought tickets for the double decker tour bus and rode all over the city, to make sure Mymom and Grampy got to see the big stuff.


London Bridge!

And then it snowed. And It snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. It snowed all over the place... that was pretty much the theme while Mymom and Grampy were here...lol. We also had a lot of hoar frost (which is where fog freezes on everything) which was really cool. We drove into Biggleswade for an antiques fair one afternoon... the fair ended up being cancelled, but we got to see some beautiful, snowy countryside.

Spider Webs on our garage... so pretty!





We finally managed to go to Windsor Castle! We've been wanting to see it forever, but every time we plan to go, something happens. It was worth the wait! It was awesome! You cant take pictures inside, which sucks, but it was gorgeous! And it was all decorated for Christmas, which was really cool. We got to go into St. George's Chapel, which is the chapel right in front of the castle. Something like a dozen kings and queens are buried there, including Henry VIII, which was cool.
The guards in front of St. George's Chapel.



And then it was Christmas Eve. We watched Christmas Vacation, because its what we do...lol.

A very spoiled rotten little boy


The next morning we woke up early and opened presents! Christopher spoiled me rotten this year!!! After skyping with our families and waking up a little bit more, I got started on Christmas Dinner. I made Beef Wellington, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and parsnips, and yorkshire puddings! It was a success!!!

Using my new Food Processor!

Carving up the beef Wellington!

A couple of days later, we headed out to go to York. On the way there, we passed by a couple of signs for Burghley House in Stamford and decided to detour. I'd heard Stamford was pretty cool, so I figured we'd find something, at least lunch, in the little town. It turned out to be gorgeous!!! Burghley House was closed for the winter, but the grounds are a park and they were open to the public. We got out and walked around in the snow and came across Reindeer! It was awesome, especially since it was only a couple of days after Christmas. They were so tame too... Mymom and I even pet one!

We will definitely be going back as soon as it's open!


Mymom and I in front of one of the doors... it was tiny!

We had lunch in town at an Italian place and it was pretty good...nothing like our actual Italian food, but good just the same. We walked around a little bit more and found tons of antique stores; though they were closed for the Holidays. We ended up going back the next day with Christopher in tow and hit up some of the antique stores and I found a tea set! I've been looking for one forever to have from England and could never find one that I really loved.