Julia

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Julia

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In the Footsteps of Eleanor of Aquitaine ... a tour throughout France with author, Sharon Kay Penman




Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena June 15th 2010

Siena & Chianti Filippo picked us up at 9AM this morning, well it was supposed to be 9AM. He did get to our hotel on time, but we were a bit late getting down to the lobby to meet him, and as he noticed breakfast was being served, he said, "Have a bite, no rush, you're on holiday!" in his thick Italian accent. He was starting to make up for nearly murdering me the other day... Today, I sat in the front seat, which worked out much better! I only felt a little queazy once or twice, but nothing even comparable to last time. We drove to Siena, and saw another magnificent church. Apparently, there was a point where they attempted to build the largest church in the world, but again because of the soft soil, ... read more
Chianti winery
Chianti winery
Lunch at the Chianti winery

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano June 14th 2010

San Gimignano Today was the "sleep in" day, so naturally, Dad and I got up early and took full advantage of the beautiful day by taking a jog around the Tuscan countryside… It was such a lovely day, warm, but breezy. We wound up going out for nearly 1.5hrs! We did get lost a good number of times, and would slow down to find our way again, but it was still a great start to the day. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and laid out by the pool while Mom and Anna slept through the early afternoon… Then we had a light lunch at the hotel, which was fantastic. Everything is fantastic. I'm in Italy, blogging in Italy, and I feel like I haven't talked anywhere near enough about the food. Everything is ... read more
Relais Santa Chiara Hotel in San Gimignano
Relais Santa Chiara Hotel in San Gimignano
Relais Santa Chiara Hotel in San Gimignano

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » San Gimignano June 13th 2010

San Gimignano After leaving Marina di Carrara, we spent several hours in the car to San Gimignano, but stopped in another little town called Lucca, where we trudged through the rain to get some good shopping deals! Dad bought some cigars, and mainly we just picked up some neat accessories, like funky rings and hair things, etc. In the next segment in the car, the roads started to wind… and wind some more… and Fillippo apparently has a death wish, or he just really enjoys the smell of vomit while driving, because he took those twisty turns on those narrow little roads awfully recklessly!! It is the Italian way... Well, I am sometimes prone get motion sickness, and it's never all that bad, I certainly have never actually been sick because of it. It's usually just ... read more
Lucca
Lucca
Drive to San Gimignano

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Carrara June 13th 2010

After we left Pisa, Filippo then drove us to a little town by the beach called Marina di Carrara, where my family is from. It was such a delightful experience and what a beautiful town! We had lunch right on the bluest of blue water at a seafood restaurant. The weather was so nice too, as it was much cooler and breezy by the water. I've now had my second "ok maybe one less glass of wine next time" experience, which is pretty good considering we've had wine with every single meal. Even Anna has been having a couple sips! …and…we might have had gelato…again… I was so glad that we were going to be near this town at some point during our trip, as seeing where the family is from is just really something I've ... read more
Blue water
Marble Mountains of Carrara overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
Marble Mountains of Carrara overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Pisa June 13th 2010

Pisa Fillipo (our driver) picked us up early today in his Mercedes van from our apartment in Florence, and drove us to Pisa! This was a big surprise for Anna, who desperately wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but was intentionally put under the impression that we would not be doing so. She was certainly surprised and so happy when she awoke from her nap (conveniently having missed all the "Pisa" road signs) and saw as we approached the Leaning Tower of Pisa from the window. We actually had the opportunity to climb the tower, winding up the stairs all the way to the top. Each floor we got to, we were amazed, and then told that we could still go higher! The view from the top was magnificent, and the top was certainly ... read more
Pisa
Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence June 12th 2010

Florence We woke up early today to go to the Accademia museum, to discover that not only did our washing machine not work, but we also had no power. After many calls, and a yawning Alessandro on our hands, we finally got our electricity restored. No news on the laundry... We did eventually make our way to the Accadamia, which is much much smaller than the Uffizi, but is none less magnificent. The Accadamia holds Michealangelo's masterpiece, The David. One must walk down an enormous and long hallway, leading to the extraordinary David at the very end, illuminated in light. The sight is truly breathtaking. No picture could even possibly come close to giving the experience that seeing it in person does. I must have stood there for nearly twenty minutes...staring and circling around. We went ... read more
Inside the Cathedral
Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence June 11th 2010

Florence We spent four hours at the Uffizi Museum today, a few blocks away from our apartment. I saw a portrait by Hans Holbein, Henry VIII's painter. He would travel around and paint portraits of women who Henry was considering as wives, and was the one that "embellished" Anne of Cleves. I know... Leave it to me to find the England in Italy. I would just like to say that I had my first piece of real Italian pizza today. I could literally eat just that for the rest of my life, and live happily. Enough said. At one point, as we were dying for a nap, Dad, Anna and I were searching for a map to use to get back to the apartment. We walked into a store that looked promising, and Dad asked if ... read more
View from Uffizi
Ristorante All'Acqua

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence June 10th 2010

Florence What an incredibly exhausting travel day, well actually 2 days. If you have met my mother, you know she is a tad bit crazy, especially when it comes to keeping good health... and one her most favorite things to be crazy about is her vitamins she swears by. She decided that, since we were going away on such an amazing vacation, no one is allowed to get sick, and thus need to be loaded up on Vitamin C. However, after pulling out a 'horse pill' to hand to me, she promptly sneezed on it. I suppose that would somewhat cancel out any good effects it may have had... Anyway, I have missed my dose of Vitamin C, and I'm sure someone will be informed if I die. "It's a small world." I actually ran into ... read more
Leg Rooooom!
Florence
Florence

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Knightsbridge November 20th 2009

London I woke up and decided, "to hell with my outfit planner!" (to those of you who know very well my 'J'-ness, understand how big of a deal this was), and put on a dress, my new funky tights and my high-heel boots! I even curled my hair. I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty good! Don't worry, we took pictures... It unfortunately rained a bit today. However, I wasn't put down by it because I wouldn't be fully experiencing England without some rain. Plus I had my purple umbrella, so all was good in the world. ...and not just because I had my purple umbrella. Today, we went to see Westminster Abbey, AND discovered (well, I did, at least) the ingenious of the audio guide. We walked in, were asked to choose a ... read more
Westminster Abbey

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Knightsbridge November 19th 2009

London We arrived this morning to the London Heathrow airport. After about 30 minutes of staring impatiently at the television screen showing where the plane was on the map, I couldn't believe we were actually (finally) here! I hadn't even made it out of the airport, and I must have looked like a child just entering Disney World for the first time. In all honesty, I felt like I had just had five cups of strong coffee. Knowing that a crash was coming on soon (due to my sleeping a grand total of 25 minutes on the overnight flight), I fully planned on enjoying every second of my high. Thankfully, it was only enhanced when, after retrieving our luggage, we found a man holding up a large sign with my name on it. Not just ... read more




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