Sunday, 12 May 2013

Fabulous Florence and Perfect Pisa

I can’t believe a whole week has passed since I was in Italy enjoying a long weekend exploring Florence and Pisa.  Time goes nowhere and already those days seem like a very beautiful dream.  Thank goodness for digital cameras to preserve the memories.

It was an early start last Saturday morning.  When the alarm shrieked at 3.45 a.m. there was an overwhelming desire to ignore it, but like all good tourists we flung back the covers, grabbed the pre-packed suitcases and set off for Gatwick Airport.  As the car sped down the motorway I had a nagging feeling I’d overlooked something.  Dog in kennel – check.  Cat being looked after by daughter – check.  Passports – check.  Tickets – check.  What was it?  No matter, it couldn’t have been important.

Easyjet now have a bag drop rather than a check-in.  Frankly I couldn’t spot the difference.  Oh, hang on, the nice lady weighing our suitcases told us we had apparently booked Speedy Boarding.  Good heavens, had Mr V and I taken leave of our senses and unwittingly splurged just to get to the front of boarding queue?  Apparently yes.  Along with everybody else on our flight.

Half an hour later we were on the plane.  Mr V skimmed through the Duty Free Shopping magazine in thirty seconds flat and then declared he was bored.  How to pass the flight time?  Some conversation?  I nearly fell off my airline seat from shock.  Take away a television and its football channel and my husband is a lost soul.
        ‘Okay,’ I said, ‘what shall we talk about?’
        ‘Gosh I don’t know,’ Mr V rubbed his chin thoughtfully, ‘what about work?’
        ‘Work?  But the whole purpose of this trip is to forget about work for a few days!’
        ‘I work very hard.’
        ‘So do I.’
        ‘Not as hard as me.’
        ‘Rubbish!  When you come home from work, that’s it.  Your day is done.  Mine is still going.  I work from the moment I get up to the moment I hit the pillow.  I not only do the day job, I run a home which is a 24/7 job.’
        Mr V adjusted his seating position.  Clearly a few words were about to be spoken to redefine my so-called hectic days of work.
        ‘Just because you slap an egg between a muffin in the mornings, does not mean you’re working flat out.’
        I idly picked up the Duty Free Magazine and wondered if Easyjet had ever witnessed a passenger being whacked with it.  Instead I distracted myself doing some people watching.  People wear some very strange clothes on airplanes.  Take him over there.  Blue and white striped shirt, pink jeans and orange socks tucked into bright green shoes.  I regarded my own footwear – flip flops abandoned under the passenger seat in front of me in favour of a pair of in-flight socks that looked like something my granny used to wear.  So cool...

When we arrived in Pisa the sun was beaming away in welcome and the temperature was 27 degrees.  And who forgot her shorts?  Was that what had bothered me so much on the journey to Gatwick?  I rummaged through my thoughts.  No.  It was something important.  I just couldn’t quite ... put ... my ... finger ... on ... it.

Dumping the suitcases we immediately took off to see the famous leaning tower of Pisa.  Except we ended up at the train station.  So we turned around and retraced our steps down narrow streets lined with quaint trattorias sporting hanging baskets and scrumptious menus.  But not even the aroma of tomato and basil could distract us.  For there, peeking over the rooftops, was the tip of the tower.  I can’t really describe the effect it had on me. It was like a magnet.  I found myself breaking into a jog and dodging the tourists as it came into full view.  And suddenly it was revealed in all its glory.  A vast cylindrical building, partially sunken and tilting precariously, but apparently standing up and not toppling over. All around us tourists were doing the ‘holding it up’ pose.  The architecture was stunning and the stonework glorious.  But not just on the tower, but elsewhere too.  To the left of the bell tower were the cathedral and baptistery, both of which were grandiose masterpieces.

Florence was another beautiful place to explore with its breathtaking palaces, vast cathedrals and incredible museums.  The camera was working flat out that day.

But all good things come to an end.  And regrettably our love affair with this historically rich country is over.  For now.

And when we finally landed at Gatwick Airport, I found out what I’d forgotten to do.  I’d failed to book travel insurance.  This small but important detail came to light when a bottle of olive oil broke in one of the suitcases and Mr V’s beloved Armani jacket became a glistening mess.
        ‘Never mind,’ I trilled, ‘we can always claim on the insurance.’
        Or not in this case.

Which reminds me.  If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from??

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