Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Honeymoon Part VIII

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We never made it to Uffizi yesterday, so we went to bed with every intention to get up at 7am and be over there around 8. Instead, we ended up getting there around 9:45am and the line was crazy long, so we spent 8 Euros extra per ticket to get in early with a reserved ticket.

When we got in, we had baby Frommer's with us, which actually has a little guide to Uffizi, and Jason was using that to guide us through. Our tastes and Frommer's tastes must be much different though because some of the things he gave 3 stars to were not very impressive to us. I mostly enjoyed the sculptures, most of which had really long toes. I also liked a couple portraits of Martin Luther and a couple paintings of old people. As per usual in Florence, pictures are not allowed, so we started our day out on a way to another 30 picture day.

After Uffizi, we got a book about it since we couldn't take pictures, grabbed a quick bite to eat, took pictures of Hercules and fake David in the Piazza and headed back to our hotel. All we needed at the hotel was to drop the book off and grab our flex rail pass.

As we headed back to the train station we decided to check out a grocery store. Of course, Jason wanted grapes, then we found strawberry and chocolate milk, followed by the cookie aisle, and really cheap iced tea. We finally found them in the cold case for .58 Euros, when we've been paying 2-3 Euros for them. We also got a Magnum White Chocolate to try and everything cost us 6.40 Euros altogether.

At the train station, while stading in line for ticket service, I found coaster and sent Jason to check them out since we hadn't gotten any coaster yet in Italy. He bought the coasters, which are made of leather (or fake leather) and say Firenze.

When we finally got to the ticket counter, past the departure of the train we wanted on, we found out there were two more departing in the next hour and they are local trains so we could just hop on. So we found the right train to get us to Pisa and after one of the sweatiest 90 minutes of my life we arrived in Pisa at about 3pm.

We walked towards where all the touristy stuff is and after about 15 minutes had our first glimpse of the tower. As we continued walked towards the tower, we saw some postcards, but decided to get some later. There were a lot of bicycle rentals, the kind of bikes like at the Weinhard Hotel, and there were horse and buggies available too like in Florence. Randomly, there were also a lot of hamburger stands in Pisa.

As we approached the tower, it was leaning in our direction so you didn't notice the lean as much as if we had approached it from another direction. We went to the tower because there wasn't a line, but we were sent to a ticket office where you purchase tickets to all of the attractions. So we got tickets for 7:40pm to the tower because that was the earliest time available, and we got tickets for the cathedral and baptistery as well. We went to the cathedral first and it was pretty much the same as most of the cathedrals in Europe that we've seen. Gaudy with lots of unnecessary things.

After the cathedral, we went to the baptistery. It didn't seem like much. Just a big building to get baptized in. We read that the placement of it is important because it opens to a path leading directly into the church, so after someone is baptized, he or she can then have a straight path to the church. We weren't blown away though until one of the workers asked for silence and started to sing. The acoustics in there were crazy! There was a really appealing echo, particularly for Gregorian chants. Jason though that might be his favorite part of our honeymoon so far.

We had time to kill before we could go see Pisa, so we walked along the lines and lines of tourist shops. Mostly we were hoping to find coasters, but I ended up finding a knife that was also a lighter and another lighter with the leaning tower on it.

Then, we decided we should find a place to cool down and hydrate. We went to a pizzeria, but it was like 6 and they said pizza isn't served until 7. Se we ordered salads and water. We ate inside, where it was much cooler, and had the coldest water of our trip so far. It helped us to cool off and then we got our appetite back, so we order lasagna and more amazingly cold water. The lasagna was good, but those 2 liters of water we had were some of the best drinks of my life because it was so refreshing.

It was only 7 by now and we went to look in the official souvenir shop. We got some postcards here and almost got a crucifix as well. However, it was 21 Euros and we decided against it. Then we got in line for the leaning tower.

When we started to climb the stairs it was very disorienting. Far more so than either of imagined it may be. At certain points, even though the stairs were going up, it felt as though we were walking down or at least level. We stopped about halfway up and enjoyed the view from there for a few minutes, then continued to the top. When at the top it really seemed like the tower shouldn't be able to stand. The lean was obvious and it was a bit nerve racking. Then, we found out there were even more stairs to a higher point. They were also very narrow.

On our way back to the rail station, we caught a whiff of burgers cooking and couldn't resist. It actually tasted incredibly good at that moment. When we got to the station we reserved tickets for the 8:10 train to Roma from Firenze. When we got back to our hotel we packed and went to sleep because of the early morning ahead of us.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Twitter

I've been really addicted to Twitter lately. I'm not quite sure why, I think since hardly anyone I know is one Twitter, I feel like I've accomplished something if someone in the Twitterverse retweets me. Anyway, I keep trying to get Jason to tweet, and he has a couple of times. But his picture next to his tweets was still an egg. It was annoying me, so I resorted to editing his Twitter profile for him. Clearly it means more to me than it does to him.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Freedom of religion

http://www.mrconservative.com/2013/04/11450-teachers-punished-for-publicly-bowing-his-head-in-prayer/

I enjoy reading articles on Mr. Conservative from time to time. A couple of pages I follow on Facebook tend to post links to some of the more interesting articles. The news he finds tends to flabbergast me. Like the student at a Florida college who got in trouble for not writing Jesus' name on a piece of paper and stomping on it.

Well this article is no different. I find that I have trouble in teaching in the public school system because of things like this. I have one student who is very adamant about the fact that he is an athiest and gets very vocal about the fact that I "can't teach religion," when I ask the class to turn to a an American Spiritual called "Give me that Old Time Religion." Seriously? We are in band, playing a song, that doesn't even have lyrics written for you to see. I'm teaching you to play notes, in a particular key, with the other students, so that eventually we can make music.

Well, if I worked at this school district I'm sure I would have been reprimanded already. When my outgoing atheist takes the Lord's name in vain, I have a habit (gained before I started teaching) of finishing his vulgar use with praise. For example, Student says, "Jesus," "...is Lord of all," I finished. Although, at my school district I did receive an e-mail to all staff telling us to be careful what we post online, so I could still get in trouble. Oh well, public school is not my thing. I want to home school and teach my kids to love on Jesus. I also want to teach them Biblical Hebrew, because everyone should know how to read the Old Testament in its original language. Well, I really want an excuse to keep my own skills up.

I Love You (Duet)

The following is a love song that I wrote a couple years back. Intended to be sung as a duet. Jason and I haven't quite perfected singing it together yet, but we're working on it.

Girl:
I love that you know just how to make me smile,
and if I say no you'll still walk a mile
just to come to me and look me in the eye,
and tell me that you love me all of the while

Chorus:
and I love you
you know it's true
gonna stay this way
forever and a day
cuz I love you
no one else will do

Guy:
whenever I see you it opens my eyes
to the wonders of the world and the stars in the sky
you brighten my day with the brightest of smiles
and tell me that you'll love me through all of our trials

Chorus

Together:
you make me complete yeah you make me whole
loving you forever now that's my goal
I love you completely with my heart and my soul
I love you and I need you, I just want you to know

Chorus

Guy:
Now as we grow old I'll still open your door
Girl:
and I won't say no only ask you for more
Guy:
I'll take you to dance for a night on the town
Girl:
and I'll always love you, now spin me around

Chorus 2

and I love you
you know it's true
gonna stay this way
forever and a day
cuz I love you
no one else will do
I love you
only you

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Honeymoon Part VII

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The alarm went off at 05:15 playing Europe's "The Final Countdown." I shut it off almost immediately, knowing I had set another, and went back to sleep for another 30 minutes. "Move Along" was our second alarm, and when that woke us up we got out of bed.

We had packed the night before and set out our clothes for the day, so getting ready was quick and easy. The concierge remembered us from the night before when we asked about a taxi and called one for us. Then, he said, "No one is looking, how about an espresso?"

Our taxi arrived shortly and took us to the train station. I went to the counter to get our ticket situation figured out and she knew just what to do. Our tickets were first class and will probably be the only time we ride first class. Unfortunately, even though we had a ticket, we had to pay a reservation fee of 20 Euros.

We were reading our books about Florence for awhile and had both taken dramamine. I started feeling sick, so I went to sleep. When I woke up we were arriving in Florence and Jason was asleep too. We got our bags and exited the train.

We went straight to the taxis after our bad experience in Mestre. The taxi ride was short and cost about 10 Euros, tax was 4 Euros. The hotel seemed nice, Frommer's said even two star placed are amazing here because they are in palaces and other historical buildings. I don't think ours' is that cool, but when we got to our room it was nice, had air conditioning and faced the garden behind the hotel, which also meant it would be quiet. We didn't actually get our room until four hours after we arrived though, so for that time time our luggage was locked in a cage. That option was way better than having to sit in the hotel with our baggage or carry it around town, so I am glad they had the luggage cage.

We asked the concierge the best way to spend 3 or 4 hours and he sent us towards the market and a couple of churches. The first basillica we saw was giant. It had a lot of green stone that looked like it was marble, I'm not sure because we didn't look very closely. We got distracted by the Lindt store. Of course we had to buy some chocolate, so we got a variety to snack on. We ate some of our delicious chocolate as we tried to find a place to eat suggested by Frommer's.

Of course, when we finally found the place, they weren't open yet. It was 11:25 and the lady told us they open at 12:00. Next door was a museum, The Torture Museum: The Florence Dungeon. The audio tour was supposed to take 35 minutes so we thought that would be perfect to kill time before lunch. We were given the student rate because she didn't have enough change for our big bill. We were learning a lot about how people were punished, lack of hygiene, and widespread disease. After the Torture Museum we went next door to eat.

For the first course I got rice and asparagus, Jason had some sort of penne pasta with shredded beef and tomato sauce. Then, I had chicken with some cheese sauce, and Jason had a beef fillet with a hard cheese grated on top. Of course, we shared everything pretty evenly and it was delicious. We had water and a red wine to accompany our meal. We were only going to have water, but the waitress was like, "No vino?" So we decided we should have it after all. It was delicious and we were stuffed. This place was legit, Frommer's did good! A lot of Italians were eating there and the menu we ordered from was hand-written in Italian, so our waitress had to tell us what everything was.

The combination of a full stomach and wine made us quite tired and it was close to 2:00pm, so we headed for our hotel to check in and have a nap.On our way to the hotel, we walked through the market checking things out.

Apparently we needed a nap more than we realized. We went to sleep around 14:30 and didn't get up until 19:00. I think it was a lot because we didn't sleep well in Mestre without air conditioning and couldn't take breaks in the middle of the day to rest there either. It worked out well because most restaurants don't begin serving dinner until late anyway.

Frommer's directed us well earlier, so we went to a place he gave 2-stars for dinner. We had a large lunch and though we would have a light dinner. As always, I was hungrier than Jason and I ordered for us. We got a spaghetti dish with tomato sauce, garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil. I also ordered us rabbit-hunter style (it was in a tomato sauce with olives) and I had still water while Jason had sparkling. The rabbit was better than either of us expected. It was tender and had good flavor when you ate it with the tomato sauce and an olive. The spaghetti was amazing! We think they make their own pasta, which makes sense because Frommer's said they make everything from scratch. While we were dining a band was doing soundcheck, but when we were getting ready to leave, they still hadn't started playing, so we headed back to the hotel rather than trying to stick around a listen to them.

We went a little too far because the street we were supposed to turn on starts out with a different name--they seem to do that a lot here. It was nice though because we ran into a lady that was looking for the same street and got to help her find it as well. We have internet at this hotel, but only in the lobby. So we uploaded some pictures to Facebook so we could update everyone and how awesome everything was going.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We slept in a bit today, not getting up until around 9am. Jason went down to breakfast without me because my stomach was bothering me. He said breakfast was not any better here than Mestre, so apparently Italians don't do breakfast well.

Around 10:00 we took off for Accademia because Jason thought I sounded most excited to see the real David. This is true. There isn't a ton of attraction to Florence other than David. The line was long and did not appear to be moving, so I continued standing in line and taking pictures of a dog laying in a market cart while Jason went to see if there was a better way. It was now 10:30 and he came back with tickets for 12:00.

Since we had some time to enjoy the city, we decided to check out our tour. It said it wanted us to meet at the train station. While we waited for the tour we grabbed some Italian fast food--pizza and hash browns. The browns worked well for breakfast, so I'm glad he ordered that for us instead of french fries. It was actually the closest thing to a breakfast food that was edible since we arrived in Italy.

The bus finally came to pick us up. The tour wasn't very educational or interesting. Then again, I don't think Florence is as spectacular or as interesting as Paris or Venice, but the food (save for breakfast) has been amazing in Florence thus far. On our tour we went in the hills and saw things we probably wouldn't have seen on foot, including Piazza Michaelangelo with a bronze copy of David and some stellar views. Jason hopped out while we were stopped there and ran, literally ran, to take some pictures. We got off the bus before the end of the tour so we could make it over to Accademia.

Accademia turned out to be really fun. It is a pretty small museum, especially after going to The Louvre, but they have a lot to see. The best parts were the collection of musical instruments and the sculptures. There were a couple of really cool sculptures. One was of a lady who was married to a banker I think, and because people came to know here from the sculpture, it helped her out when she went to a political function. Another sculpture of a woman and a child was interesting to me because the woman wasn't very tall or large, but her feet looked huge! Of course, David was astounding! It was pretty surprising how big he really is, and there is so much detail! You can see not only his true to life muscles, but his veins. I thought the detail of the veins was amazing.

The other neat thing about Accademia is that there are a lot of religious works. So, Jason and I got to talking and I realized he doesn't understand a lot about the historical timeline, particularly that of the church. We talked about how the depictions of Biblical stories in art was important because lay people couldn't read the Bible for themselves.

After touring Accademia it was getting close to 15:00, so we thought we had better eat lunch before places close down. We went to the same place we went for lunch the day before. I had lasagna and Jason got macaroni with ragu. Both were good, but the lasagna was much better. The nice waitress from the day before wasn't working, and the guy working in her place didn't seem to want to work, so unfortunately it wasn't as good as it was the first time.

After lunch we went through the market and I got an apron with my name embroidered on it. We were going to clean up and try to hit up the other big museum in Florence before it closed. However, we talked to our concierge and he said if you go in the morning there isn't much of a line, so we made that our new plan.

Taking advantage of our free time we relaxed in the afternoon. Around 19:30 we headed out to dinner. Jason wanted to go to the same place again so we started to head that way. Instead, we ended up eating where I originally wanted us to eat, Sabatini. Jason didn't want to go there because it seemed expensive and that was true. We were definitely glad we had worn semi-nice clothes, they even asked if we had reservations. The dining room was all indoor and candlelit. Unlike most places in Italy, we didn't sit at the same table as another couple. We had rissoto and asparagus, spaghetti with basil and tomato which had more basil than the last time we got a similar dish, and we shared a beef in a red wine sauce. It was good, but set us back 80 Euros.