Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Florence 19.11.2012

Woops ! Didn't think to check when the Museums were closed in Florence - guess what - all lot of them are closed today -!! After spending some time on the internet John was able to find out that it's only the 2 biggest ones that are closed - one of which has The Statue of David !!
The weather was cold and rainy, so we decided to do the sightseeing bus ! The most uncomfortable bus - only seats upstairs in the supposedly covered area. We caught the bus to the Pont d'Avecio which is over the river Arno. The shops here are all high end jewelry shops - wish I had lots of money !!! A short walk to the Museo Galileo, which was really interesting - lots of ancient telescopes, early measuring and scientific instruments - - we even got to see Galileo"s telescope and his index finger. Next to the Museum del Opera del Duomo for a little more naked sculpture !! Here we saw one of Michelangelo"s Pietas - this one he was making for his own tomb!! It's not quite finished but is beautiful. Also here are the original doors off the Baptistry to the Cathedral Duomo, which are bronze and have been restored - well worth looking at !

Monday, November 19, 2012

Venice - Florence 18.11.2012

After another breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal, there was time for one last stroll around the lanes of Venice, before our train trip to Florence. The trip again was very comfortable and scenic. During the journey I enjoyed the company a lady from Tamworth. The trip was only about 2 1/2 hrs.
After settling in to our Hotel in the centre of Florence, we strolled around, and I was amazed at how big Florence is!! The Cathedral Duomo on the outside is very different to any we have seen - it's not the usual sandstone . Inside is huge and really open.

Venice 17.11.2012

This morning after breakfast we caught the vaporetto to Murano, one of the islands just off Venice. This is where they make the famous Venetian Glass. We sat and watched a Glassblower make a vase and then he made a horse in 5 mins. It was incredible to watch. Murano has a huge amount of shops selling glass - some looks like junk and some is exquisite and very expensive !!
After we arrived back from Murano, we went for a Gondola Ride. Once we were in the smaller canals, it was very peaceful and we were amazed as to how stable the Gondola was. We both really enjoyed the experience ! It was a fun thing to do. Another quick trip to the Rialto Bridge and then back to the hotel for a short rest before dinner.
Tonight for dinner we went to a local pizza place - where again we ran into the couple from Stuttgart. It was great to see them again and we hope to keep in touch by email.

Venice 16.11.2012

Our day started with breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal. We then caught the vaporetto to Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square), via the lagoon, where there were some seriously expensive motor yachts. On the way to San Marcos we visited the Doges Palace. The Doge was the titular leader of the Venetian Republic. The palace, at the time, also served as the Parlimentary Rooms and the Prison, so it's not very palatial !!! From here we walked through Piazza San Marco, alongside and over the canals, and in need of a coffee and somewhere to sit, we found the Hard Rock Cafe ! The first John has ever been into !! We got lost and finally got back to the vaporetto and went to the Rialto Bridge. Back onto the vaporetto to near our hotel, where we wandered the lanes. At dinner, we met a nice couple from Stuttgart, we all ordered pizza, (which was huge), and only John was able to finish it. What a surprise !!!

Paris - Venice 15.11.2012

At 6.15 am this morning our taxi arrived to take us to Gare de Lyon for our train trip to Venice. Another huge train station. Our seats in 1st Class were very comfortable and the train was quiet and smooth. During our journey the scenery was amazing. It went from the city to industrial and then to rural farmland (beef cattle and sugarbeat),and then to the alps, some of which were covered in snow. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of track work, which meant our train was over 45 mins late getting to Milan where we had to change trains !! The next train departed from a different station. The stations are about a 5 min Taxi ride apart, and seeing there was a queue it was looking very unlikely we would make our connection. Along with at least 6 others we got to the train with about 5 mins to spare only to find that they wouldn't let us on the train !!!luckily our tickets had been signed to say the train was late and after a 30 min wait we were on the next train to Venice. During all of this, we met an Argentinian lady in the same predicament!! She had 3 ex husbands, spoke a little of at least 5 languages , and was traveling alone. Arriving into Venice at around 7.45pm was interesting, we caught the Vaporetto (water bus) one stop and then walked back to the Hotel Grand Canal, which was situated right in the Grand Canal. We then strolled around the lane ways near the hotel in a state of wonder!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Paris 14.11.2012

We woke this morning to blue skies, chilly but not too bad. We caught the Metro (train) to the Sacre Coeur, the Basilica in Montmartre. We came to visit it last time, but the train from the street to the basilica wasn't working, and as there is a huge number of steps only John saw inside. Thankfully, this time the train was working!! It is one of the most serene places I have been. There was a Mass being said while we were there - it was a very moving visit. On the train we actually saw a girl who went to pick pocket an older man. Another man, a Parisian I presume, saw her and stopped her!! After our visit to the Basilica, we stopped to buy something, and as I was putting my change in my bag, a woman tried to put her hand in my pocket !! Thankfully I had nothing in it, so she missed out!!!There are a lot of beggars in and around Paris - at the Metro Stations, Church entrances even in shop doorways. We see nothing like it in Australia. We then caught a bus back to the Left Bank to soak up some more of the atmosphere. Unfortunately by mid afternoon, the weather took a turn for the worse, and became bitterly cold, so being a little on the tired side, we decided to head back to the apartment,(via the Patisserie) for an easy dinner, a hot bath and a reasonably early night, as we have a taxi booked for 6.15am tomorrow to take us to Gare de Lyon for our train trip to Venice.