Here's where our transportation woes get a little more interesting.  Every morning that we had a day trip planned, we decided to take the bus from Britta's to the train station.  It was a 35-40 min walk, and given our 2 kids and my gravid status, it seemed worth the 1.50 euros to use public transport.  Despite a strike occurring on the day we left for Venice, we make it to the train station fine (the strike started at 8:30 and we caught the 8:25 bus...plus, the strike was "suspended" between 4:30-7:30pm, when we were returning, so people could get home...).  Great.  The next day was a Saturday, so there was a different bus line we needed to take.  We waited at the bus stop and a different bus arrived (not the expected number), with a sign saying it was bound for the train station as well.  What to do?  Eric stepped on the bus to ask the driver a question, and as I sat at the bus stop bench with my 2 little kids, the door closed (with Eric on the bus) and the bus drove away.  To make a long story short, Eric did NOT get off the bus, and hoped I would get on the next one and meet him at the train station.  I was sure he would come back for us so decided to stay put.  We ended up missing our train and chasing each other in circles around Bologna, not having cell phones.  Bummer.  In the end, we were all ok though, found each other after only three hours, and rebooked our tickets to Florence for the next day.  It was more expensive, but how many chances will we have to see Florence?

The next day, we got on the bus without problems:
We made it to the train station with PLENTY of time to spare.  Also, because we needed to buy a new ticket to Florence, for some reason the first class train was the same cost as a second class seat, so we got lots of space, Italian newspapers, and free drinks/cookies.  Maggie and Ben enjoyed spreading out and playing games with their Thomas the Train flashcards.

Florence is really a beautiful city.  We of course had to enjoy the daily favorite activity of chasing pidgins around a square by Santa Maria Novelle.  We were actually waiting for a free walking tour of the city to start but never found it...maybe it doesn't happen on Sundays?
We found our own way to the magnificent Duomo of Florence, definitely a highlight, and enjoyed outside views.  Because it was Sunday though, all the churches/cathedrals were closed to tourists until the afternoon, so we decided to take a bus to an overlook (Piazza Michelangelo).
More transportation woes ensued.  We found the right bus but couldn't figure out how to get a ticket for it--in Bologna, you can't pay the driver (there is a box for fares in the back of the bus).  We sat down and after some debate, decided to wait until the end of the line (the Piazza) and try to pay the bus driver.  Woe to us, halfway to the Piazza the "bus gestapo" came on and started issuing 50 euro fines to everyone who didn't have a bus ticket.  They didn't care that we were tourists and had no idea what we were doing.  A rather expensive bus ride in the end...At least, at the top, it was a very nice view and a kind Asian tourist took the only photo of both Eric and me that we got the entire trip.
Back down the hill, ate a cheap lunch at McDonald's (we were rapidly running out of money) and then back to the Duomo.  The dome was sadly closed for climbing, but we enjoyed some magnificent views from the bottom looking up at the painted ceiling.
Carvings on the outside of the cathedral: magnificent.  So much pink and green marble everywhere!
We then visited the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence with lots of gold shops lining the bridge.  No boats, but still a nice view.
We passed by the Pitti Palace, Uffizi Gallery (without going in) and 2 replicas of Michelangelo's David, although we did not pay to go in and see the original.
And then finally we ended up in the same square as we started in, close to the train station (we were still a little gun shy of missing our train, so wanted plenty of lag time).  The kids enjoyed chasing the pidgins again and playing by a giant obelisk, while Eric and I relaxed in the grass.

Travelling with kids...a very different experience than my last trip to Florence!  Perhaps more on these musings to come.


tscarlet said...

Fabulous! (Not the part about all the transportation woes--although that will add to the interest when you are telling the story in years to come). Hank and I visited Florence when we were newly married, sans kids, and we saw so many of the same sights you listed. I know it would seem like an entirely different city now with all the kids in tow! It has been fun to travel Italy vicariously through you all. :)