A Travellerspoint blog

Pisa and Lucca

There's always a Plan B

Pisa and Lucca
So on the second train to Pisa I realized I left my tour book and map on the breakfast table! I must admit I had small moment of not knowing what to do... turning around and going all the way back was not an option, so plan B... I wing it!!

I got off the train and looked up expecting to see the Leaning Tower -- but that would have been too easy. So I strolled down a cool looking street and went into a local grocery store and ask at the service desk for directions. But I must admit I did not know how to ask... it seemed rude to say where's the LEANING Tower? Since they know it's leaning, why point that out? So I was trying to come up with a question and the woman -- who must get this question several times a day, told me the TOWER (notice she left out the fact that is was leaning!) was just a short walk from where I was!! How cool was that?

All my life I wanted to get a chance to touch the tower before it fell! Today was my day. Not only was I able to touch it, I was allowed to walk up the 240 steps to the top! Notice this time I knew how many steps it would take! See you can teach this old dog new tricks. Pisa had just finished a 10 year renovation of the tower and let me tell you, they did an awesome job. They were able to stabilize the tower and preserve it -- it looked brand new!

I ate an amazing lunch in Pisa before moving onto to Lucca. I did notice that silly smile following me again!!

Just a short train ride to Lucca and I'm so glad I did not miss seeing this ancient city. I will post the pictures of the walls surrounding the city and big city gates -- very impressive. I did a LOT OF SHOPPING! Because.... well because I could! I had a quick cafe latte in a local shop and boarded the train back to my hotel.

What a fun day -- Tomorrow I start my long journey home -- Florence to Milano to NYC to HOME on Friday --

Thank you all for your prayers --- this was a trip of a lifetime -- So happy I did not pass it up!!

Posted by TravelingSusan 13:19 Comments (2)

Montecatini Terme

Mondays in Italy are very quite. Most places are closed and the streets are empty! I took today to take a tram up the Montecatini Terme mountains! WOW is all I can say -- What a cute town tucked into this amazing terain. I was able to sit in one of the town's outdoor cafes for lunch - something I seem to do a lot of lately! The food and wine, yes wine with Lunch - EVERYONE was doing it! So since I want to be like a local - I too had wine! It was DA-LIS-OUS! This time I ordered an appetizer of meats, cheese and olives. I did not eat the pate, I did not know what was in it! The entire town only took a few minutes to walk through, but I felt like I was walking in a magazine. You have got to see the pictures I will post.

There are geraniums everywhere! My favorite garden flowers are red geraniums! It seems that is Tuscany's favorite as well. Spring is already here and most of the trees are in bloom - their magnolia trees are Hugh - bigger then some trees by us!

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This city is old and very well maintained -- it looks like a post card from every direction. This town does not disappoint! I can see from my view on top of the mountain, grape vines and oil trees. The roofs in the city below are all capped in terra cotta tiles!

The strangest thing keeps happening -- That silly grin that I can't wipe from my face!!

Tomorrow is Pisa and Lucca!

Posted by TravelingSusan 13:09 Comments (5)

The Duomo

My walk to the top of the Duomo

I love Architecture!

One of the things I wanted to do on my trip was to climb between the two domes of the Duomo! What an opportunity to see up close and actually touch this marvel of men's ingenuity! They actually built the entire church and waited until someone could invent a way to build the dome -- can you imagine-building a new structure and leaving the roof off the main building? Waiting for God to send someone with the knowledge to finish it? How cool!

So I stood in the fast line where I met two lovely young women from Long Island, how nice it was to chat until we were allowed passage. I soon found myself inside a cold very narrow stair well - climbing steps -- climbing more steps -- getting more narrow then climbing more steps! It was at this point that I realized I had no idea how many steps it took to get to the top. My lungs were burning and I remember I had sarcoidosis and "tumors" the size of nickels in my lungs, and sometimes I have a hard time breathing. I hate when I'm reminded of my limitations - I started to feel overwhelmed by all the things in my life that I have no control over. A thought of just turning around and quitting crossed my mind. So I prayed and my God who hears me reminded me that I could do ALL THING with Christ who is my strength! Then God gave me a chuckle. I caught up to the two young ladies that had started this quest with me, I had told them to go ahead of me on stair one so they did. then somewhere along our climb they slowed down. When we met back up I noticed they were breathing hard and exhausted -- they were overwhelmed by the task at hand too! Thank you Jesus for your tender mercies for allowing me to see that we all struggle and yet don't give up! I finished that climb and made it to the top to see the most amazing views of Florence --

I want to finish well! I want to live my life as a testament for Christ. I know the road will not be easy, it never has been easy. I want to stand firm in my trust of our Savior and know that he has plans for me, not to destroy me but to give me an abundant life, and when my days here have come to an end I want to hear the words "well done my good and faithful servant".

Until that day I will just continue staying strong in our Lord and taking on one quest at a time. But next time I may ask how many steps to the top!

Posted by TravelingSusan 12:32 Comments (2)

Florence & The President of Italy

How I met the Presidentt or You Never know who your gonna bump into!!

Okay, I know this is going to sound crazy, I can't even believe it myself. Today while I was visiting Florence, going through the museums and wandering around the streets, I started to notice a large number of police officers, then as I got near the Uffzi Gallery I noticed what looked like Military teams.... still kept walking and ended up at the Uffzi Gallery. I had my Firene Card so I was looking for the fast track to get in. Then I noticed the entire museum was blocked off and people were standing around waiting for someone to show up.. I walked around the block and was within a few feet of the front door of the Gallery when the President of Italy comes out and gets into his car and is driven away!! Could not get my camera out fast enough.

Well, I didn't want to wait to get into the Gallery so I took a long walk by the river. Took a lot of pictures, watched grown men in their kayak's surfing by the bridge, could not find a kayak rental place (just kidding! It was a little too cold for that today). I noticed police and miltary men lining up on the street... then I saw a large number of motor cycles and police cars escorting the the President! And they drive right past me!! Once again I went to reach for my camera, and they were gone!

After a full day of seeing the sites of Florence I was tired!! At the train station again I noticed a lot of police officers... then miltary men... thinking they too had a long day and were waiting for their trains to take them home... I didn't give it another thought. I was busy freaking out trying to find my train and where to buy the ticket. Finally found where to buy the ticket and was completely distracted when I ran into THE PRESIDENT!! A man grabed my arm a pulled me back just as I was about to walk into the President of Italy!! I had not noticed all the commotion of this large group of people moving the President through the station to his train! The guy who grabbed me (and held onto my arm until they all passed) was a member of their security team, after I apologized for my rude behavior, I asked him if he knew where I could find my train -- You should have seen the look on his face - He almost laughed! I could not understand a word he said but he motioned in the direction of my train!

So, I am planning on returning to Florence tomorrow to see the David and with any luck get into the Uffzi Gallery! I hope Mr. President you have other plans!

Posted by TravelingSusan 13:57 Comments (2)

Two planes three busses two traines....

But I made it to Montecatini Terme!!

Wow what a journey so far! Last I wrote I was in NYC enjoying the sites! Now a day and half later I'm Montecatini, a small town in the countryside just an hour west of Florence! The weather is crisp, but NOT raining!

I left NYC in rain storm! Got soaked to the bone walking from my hotel in Time Square to Grand Central Station -- What a cool place to visit! GCS looks so much like our train station down town -- just twice the size! I circled the building a few times until I found the bus that would take me to the airport -- Again, even soaking wet I could not wipe that silly grim from my face!

I was hoping to get my flight upgraded to a sleeping first class seat, but God had other plans --

The seat next to me was empty until right before we were to take off -- this older italian man comes running down to take the seat next to me! So God sent me an Italian buddy to spend the next 7 hours with! I speak as much Italian as he spoke english, but we managed to communicate ! The flight was rough... not from a flying stand point but from a "let's trap Susan in a small place for hours and not let her move" !!! Man how do people do it? Just when I was ready to burst our of my skin, we landed!

It was not until I stepped off the plane in Milan when I realized that I had no clue how I was going to find my bus to the train terminal, after having such a hard time in NYC, where I speak the language, how was I going to my way in Italy? I must say that for a moment I was gripped with fear -- What the "L" was I doing going on a trip like this alone? I froze in the hallway and prayed. When I looked up there was a sign and machine to buy my ticket from... then after following the crowd from the plane, I asked three guys in orange jumpsuits (I think they work for the airport ) where I could catch the train -- they spoke ENGLISH! They told me where to go, and when I made a wrong turn all three of them came running after me to help me find my bus! THAT'S GOD FOR YOU---Everytime I am at the end of "me" God sends his angels to rescue me!! This same thing happend each time I had to look for my next connection - God had a kind soul there to direct me!

Well, I'll write more later... I need to go and explore this town!!

Posted by TravelingSusan 07:43 Comments (1)

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