So, Siena had fought with Florence for many years. According to Rick Steves, Florence won and became the birthplace of the Renaissance, and Siena was pickled in its medieval setting. We absolutely loved our hotel Albergo Bernini in Siena. We got sold on the reasonable price and terrace with beautiful view to enjoy cappuccino or some gelato. Oh, gelato!
While in Siena, we saw our second cathedral in two days. The Siena cathedral was decked out inside and out. The cathedral itself is unfinished. Siena had planned on making the current nave the transept to make theirs the biggest and best cathedral in Italy. They started a new facade, but they got their butts kicked in battle by Florence. Trade went down, the money ran out, and Siena had to make do with the cathedral they already had.
The floor was all inlaid marble some in geometric designs and others with scenes combining biblical and mythological figures.
We were sad to say goodbye to Siena, but Florence was waiting! We took the corse rapide bus straight to Florence. The bus was cool, but the heat outside was killing me! One of the reasons we went to Italy in June was because the weather was supposed to be beautiful, but it was unseasonably warm at first.
On arrival to Florence, we popped by another cathedral. (That's number three in two days in case you were counting.) I thought Florence's cathedral was pretty but a bit too colorful. Our guidebook said it was pajama-y, and after I read that, I could only see green, pink, and white pajamas. We heard a lot about the cathedral's dome. They started building the cathedral thinking they would have the biggest and best dome in the world when completed. Small problem -- they had no idea how to build a dome spanning 42 meters, but they figured someone would come up with something after they finished the rest of the cathedral. As you can see, someone figured it out eventually.
We ended up getting more gelato, our second taste of the day, and taking the bus over to Piazzale Michelangelo. Not only is it a good sunset spot, but it's where TRL Italy films! Luckily the teenyboppers had dispersed, so we could enjoy our paninis and Fanta with a great view of Florence.
So, Cy and I first went to Italy about 5 years ago with Ceida, and we just fell in love with it. Okay, it was mostly the food but the art and history, too. After seeing Rome, I knew we had to see more. Despite the weakening dollar, we decided to go again before we got too old to climb all those stairs! So, with Cy going to California for the summer, we decided to take an 11-day adventure together through Florence, Tuscany, and Venice.
We hadn't originally planned on going to Pisa. It was listed as a total tourist trap in our tour book, but it was cheaper to fly into Pisa than Florence by quite a lot. So why not go to see the Leaning Tower? We got our first taste of Italian outdoor markets and picked out some fruit to eat along our way to the famous tower.
And there it is! There was a whole field of tourists taking cheezy pics of holding up the tower or kicking it down, and we had to join in.
What we hadn't realized is that the tower is part of a group of astounding buildings done in the Pisan Romanesque style. While we skipped the tower tour (15 euros!!!), we did wander through the baptistery and cathedral with the baptistery being my favorite part.
Yes, that's the guard (or basically ticket taker) demonstrating the acoustics of the baptistery. That's a statue of John the Baptist himself behind him.
Well, we hightailed it out of the craziness of Pisa to the sleepy town of Siena. What a contrast! Pisa was an insane tourist mob everywhere we went. Siena was a beautiful, medieval city. Cy and I had dinner on the main square, Il Campo.
Cy, who had been reading about wine in our tour book, was excited to have some Chianti DOCG. Found out we don't actually like Chianti, DOCG or not, all that much. We also had our first taste of a regional specialty--wild boar!
Day Two is coming. More of Siena and our arrival in Florence!
cy said it was cheaper for us to fly from gatwick to dublin to heathrow to boston, so that's what we did yesterday. amazingly, all our flights were relatively on time, so there were only minor hiccups along the way (had to check our bags because london airports only allow one carryon, went through extra security because we had been on a farm).
i managed to do one useful thing today--picked up my graduation gown. my method of staying awake involves catching up on dancing with the stars and grey's anatomy on abc.com.
maybe i'll post more commentary for the ireland portion of our trip, but in the meantime, here are our pictures.
wow, tonight is our last night in london, and cy and i had a wonderful day. we took the tube over to the west end to get theater tickets and wound up with our first choice--spamalot!. we spent 3 hours taking the rick steves' tour of the britism museum. those brits had a big empire at one point, and they have the artifacts to prove it. some dude sawed off parts of the parthenon and brought them back to england. not just some parts, lots of parts!!! i'm not surprised that greece wants them back. i spent just a quick 45 minutes at the british museum last time i was in london, so it was nice to just wander this time.
cy and i did some more walking, this time along the banks of thames in the rain (again). we ended our night with spamalot. since it sort of tells the tale of king arthur, it seemed an appropriate end to our visit to britain, and we loved it! i'll try not to remember what the conversion of pounds to dollars is.
we'll be happy to just hang out in our apartment when we get back because it's been an exhausting week. unfortunately, we won't have much time to do that. cy has to turn in his thesis, and we have to graduate and move! i'm still officially on vacation, so i'm not going to think about that either. goodnight, and see you all soon!
hi everyone! i'm back waiting for cy to wake up yet again. i can't blame the poor boy. we had a pretty hectic day.
we went to the british library yesterday morning, and it was fantastic. i didn't go last time with my parents, but cy and i had some geeky fun. most of the books are under such incredibly dim lighting that you can barely read the plaque next to it, but they have computers there that let you simulate flipping through some of their more famous books. cy spent an hour alone reading about one of mozart's notebooks. i enjoyed jane austen's history of england in which she made fun of all the english monarchs. i was also able to put to use my newly found passover knowledge as they had something called the golden hagadah there. while i'm not quite up on hebrew yet, i did enjoy the illustrations of the passover story and the various elements of the seder. while cy was over at mozart, i was going through the rest of the room. i especially enjoyed the science corner with books by galileo, newton, darwin and william harvey (the guy who first described how blood flows). lots of other fun there including a shakespeare first folio (doesn't harvard have something like 15 of these?), beowulf, canterbury tales, and the original alice's copy of alice in wonderland.
then we hit the victoria and albert museum. i could probably spend a week there, but we just spent a few hours. we nourished ourselves in their amazing cafeteria. i'll post a pic when we get back. iw as probably there for 5 minutes before i looked up and realized what a beautifully decorated room it was. we sped through the classic stuff (casts of david? trajan's column? didn't we see the real ones in rome?) and ended up spending most of our time in the architecture and glass exhibits. it was fun to look at the models of concept homes that were never built.
we made it to westminster abbey for an organ recital, and the rain finally stopped. we took a stroll past the winston churchill statue in parliament square and then walked past 10 downing st on our way to trafalgar square. how else to top off an evening in london but with some fish and chips? we were pooped at the end of the day and ended up playing bridge back at our hotel room. yes, that's right. i'm learning from bridge for dummies on this trip and will kick butt when i return!
today's our last day in london. tomorrow is filled with flying, but truthfully, we're tired and can't wait to get home. see you all soon!
You guys know I couldn't resist posting at least once during our vacation, right? I was going to skip it this time, but our hotel in London has free internet access. It was a sign.
Anyway, Cy and I got into London last night from Dublin. Ireland was fantastic. We did a whirlwind tour of the city and the countryside, and we definitely want to go back. The weather has been a bit of a downer with rain showers almost everyday, but at leat it hasn't been pouring. If we wanted a sunny vacation, we should have gone ... somewhere else.
I loved the Irish countryside. Cy adapted quickly to driving a manual on the leftside of the road. The roads are incredibly narrow with stone walls on either side. The locals, even the truck drivers, speed down these roads at 100 kph, and after a while, Cy didn't blink when cars where whizzing by inches from our car. I was a terrified and helpless passenger screaming, "You're very close to the side. Very close!" However, I, too, became used to it. The countryside was beautiful, so lush with lots of sheep. We couldn't resist a small addition to our stuffed animal family.
So, our first day in Dublin, we went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, an incredibly illustrated copy of the gospels. It was funny to be on a college campus tour because I hated them while I was in college. I told Cy to snap some pictures of real college students, but he resisted. We also got our first taste of Irish music that night with some bawdy songs and a rowdy crowd. It's true that the Guinness does taste better here. A lot better. So does the Heinecken, then again I don't think I've ever had a Heinecken on tap in the US.
The next morning we overslept breakfast and ran across town to pick up our rental car. We had a late start on our most ambitious day--driving all the way across Ireland! We were in such a rush that we forgot to buy a road atlas, a mistake that would come back to bite us in the butt. Anyway, we went the wrong way on the highway once but then we were on our way to Western Ireland with a stop at the Rock of Cashel, the site of a castle and then church on a hill.
Oh, Cy is finally ready to hit the British Library! Old maps, here we come! We'll update more soon.
everything has corn in it i need to decrease the amount of processed food i eat mcnuggets really don't taste much like chicken buying organic isn't the answer? maybe i should give up meat all together maybe vegetarianism isn't the answer either how do i eat locally?
i annoyed cychan and ceida all weekend in vegas by reading passages from this book. now that i'm back in boston, i'm determined to do something about what i learned. my first action plan was to get a meat community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription. while there are many more vegetable CSA's, locally grown fruits and vegetables are much easier to find in grocery stores and farmer's markets (and i'm not sure we'll be able to do weekly pickups with me being in the hospital all the time). grass-fed, pasture-raised meat (different from organic meat) is something rather scarce in the city, so i think this is a good start for us.
you know how the last five minutes of an episode are supposed to shock you and make you desperately need to watch next week's show right away? well, i want to shoot the writers of grey's anatomy!!! GEORGE AND IZZIE!!! NO!!! even after drinking an entire bottle of liquor! i really underestimate the writers when i think they can't come up with new couplings. i really enjoyed the episode to that point. it looks like cristina and burke are finally going to break up. thank goodness!
okay, i just have to say it: i really don't think jennifer hudson deserved an oscar. yes, she was fabulous in dreamgirls. she was a fabulous SINGER. outside of her performance of "you're gonna love me" (which i thought was overdone anyway), i don't think she actually did much acting.
i didn't see most of the other movies which people were nominated for best supporting actress, but i find it hard to believe that jennifer hudson's performance was the best one. i doubt she'll ever be as good again. just like that little girl from little miss sunshine, her nomination should have been her "award" and a real actress probably should have won.
has britney gone insane? ok, i get why she was partying all the time after she cut k-fed loose. she wanted to feel young and single, and who doens't think that her kids are better off right now with her stable of nannies than her?
i'm a total grey's anatomy addict. not because it at all mimicks real life in a hospital but because it's got crazy drama! i had tears streaming down my face for the whole second half of this week's episode and finally had to call my husband over for comfort. meredith can't die, can she? i do find her character insanely annoying at times, but at this point, i would rather have izzie die. she's gone totally wacko. telling george that he made a mistake by marrying callie while he is crying over the fact that meredith's body temp is only 80 degrees? i thought izzie was supposed to be the sensitive one. that probably died with denny.
walking home from the bus was like fording a river. it certainly brought me back to my oregon trail days. luckily home wasn't too far, and i didn't die from the little lakes in my water resistant boots. i've lived here for 10 years and never really needed galoshes, but maybe it's time to get some ugly rain boots.
it's been freezing for the last week, and now it's slushy everywhere. slush sucks. slush makes me think that moving to a sunnier climate wouldn't be so bad. however, we're here until 2010 at the very least, so i'm just going to think about how a lovely new england autumn is only seven months away.
hmmm, after watching justin timberlake's new video, i don't have high hopes for his acting career. then again, i wouldn't have high hopes for scarlett johansson's career from watching that video either.
there were so many performances that giving out awards seemed like an afterthought.
i really liked corinne bailey rae's performance of "like a star".
justin timberlake said that "what goes around" was inspired by something that happened to one of his best friends. could it be his former personal assistant who was engaged to elisha cuthbert? i'll just keep thinking that the song is about britney. anyway, justin's performance with the microphone camera seemed very blair witch project to me.
congrats to ok go on winning a grammy for their video of "here it goes again"!
congrats to joaquin phoenix & various artists for walk the line. i'm guessing the "various artists" includes reese witherspoon.
i actually really liked the whole my grammy moment part of the show. singing with justin timberlake at the grammys? that's an awesome reality show prize!
john mayer didn't look so good. has he been partying too much with jessica simpson?
In preparation for a month at my school's sexual dysfunction clinic, I picked up The Potent Male. It's a book for non-healthcare professions that discusses the plumbing behind erections and the various treatments available. I definitely need this topic in layman's terms because I am not the greatest at anatomy, and I've learned practically nothing about sexual disorders in medical school.
In flipping through the first few pages on the bus, I've already learned so much! Here's a sampling:
Hippocrates, a.k.a. "The Father of Medicine," attributed impotence to preoccupation with business or to an unattractive wife.
In 1918, people were already grafting the cells of monkey testicles into men.
Young boys and male babies can achieve erections in the virtual absence of testosterone.
Kangaroos have a bifurcated penis.
Oh, upon reading the wikipedia article on penises, I learned that "Gorillas have relatively small penises, so it is an often used subtle insult in some countries to insinuate or directly state that one is 'hung like a gorilla.'"