Italy–Part II; Pisa and Florence

Our second day in Italy we knew would be a long one. We planned on taking the train from Rome to Florence to Pisa and back again  all in one day.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll remember when we did San Francisco in a day. My husband and I don’t mess around lol!

Again, we were smart thinkers as far as planning was concerned because since our hotel was literally at the airport, we also had direct access to the metro. So, bright and early, we took the metro to the train station to downtown Rome. We made sure to leave plenty early in case we needed to figure things out when we got there. Thankfully, It turned out to be easier than we expected.

Breakfast of champs--bread and a coke

Breakfast of champs–bread and a coke

The metro station was seriously a happening place. There were a ton of little stores to shop at with super cute stuff. This was surprising to me but I could see how it would be profitable.

On the train. The views were amazing.

On the train. The views were amazing.

We connected in Florence and had about 40 minutes to spend. We could’ve bought a ticket straight from Rome to Pisa but we wanted to stop there on our way back and hang out. We didn’t mind this pit stop; we stretched out our legs and hung out a while.

Once we got back on, about an hour and a half later we were in Pisa.

First, I have to say that this was (ahhh!! I can’t believe I’m using past tense!!!) the #1 place I wanted to go to before I die. For some reason, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has always fascinated me and when people would ask my dream place to visit, I’d always say there. Just to see the tower.

We stopped by an information desk for a map and got to walking. On our way there, we crossed a bridge with just a stunning view:

It was seriously just like the movies.

It was seriously just like the movies.

This road led us straight to the tower. I was walking ahead of my husband; I was seriously a little kid about to go to their favorite store! I saw the tower peaking from the sky and stopped dead in my tracks. There it was.

My eyes welled up and I whispered to my husband, “Do you see it?” He told me to stay still, that he wanted to capture this moment. Me incredibly happy.

Best day of the entire trip, hands down.

Best day of the entire trip, hands down.

We kept going and it just got bigger and bigger and I became more and more excited.

We crossed the street and heeeelllloooo people! Really, the first thing I saw were a ton of people taking pictures of their friends and family “holding” up the tower. It was hilarious!

I had to take a picture of the people taking pictures.

I had to take a picture of the people taking pictures.

And then it was our turn. Get comfortable. Tower picture overload is about to ensue.

20140429_033748

20140429_032422

My husband wanted to bring back a souvenir for the kids.

My husband wanted to bring back a souvenir for the kids.

It was so funny hearing the people around me. There were moms yelling, “No! You’re not doing it right! More to the left. Higher!” And husbands and kids so over taking billions of pics. LOL! Luckily, my husband was totally cool with filling up our camera phones.

20140429_034237

20140429_034325

Two of my favorite pics:

Got in an ab workout while I was there :)

My ab workout

Leaning Helly and Leaning Tower

Leaning Helly and Leaning Tower

Once we finished out photo shoot (you only got a glimpse), we walked back to the train station but not without making a pit stop for gelato along the way.

The train dropped us off in Florence where I wanted to cross off another bucket list item– to see in person the statue of Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia.

There was a 45 minute wait in line that moved quickly and then we were in.

No pictures were allowed (although we may or may not have snapped one accidentally). We sat on a bench and stared fascinated for a full thirty minutes. It was breathtaking.

I’m just astounded first, by how intricate the statue is. It’s so incredibly detailed. Second, that this still exists! And that it’s all one piece after so many years. I’m blown away by history sometimes –at how things were done, what people were thinking when they were doing things, how long things have lasted. It amazes me.

When we left the museum, we headed to the shopping district so to speak and I was able to window salivate at Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, and other European fashion houses. How I don’t have a picture of this, I don’t know.

We visited another massive church as we walked back to the train station:

20140429_075554

 

20140429_075754

And then we ate gelato, again 🙂 It would’ve been nice to hang out longer but we had to catch our train and only had one more day left in Italy.

We got back to our hotel around 9 and we were pooped. We thought it’d be a good idea to have a drink to really put us to bed:

Took a break from the vino--Italy's beer was actually pretty yummy.

Took a break from the vino–Italy’s beer was actually pretty yummy.

And that was Day 2! Here’s if you missed Day 1 of Italy, and/or if you missed my time in Spain go here and here 🙂

Next stop, Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel!

–What’s on your list of places to go or things to see? (I can’t believe I’ve crossed quite a few off already!!)

 

 

 

 

Italy, Part I

I’m going to break the time spent in Italy into parts. We were there for 3 days and the first day (actually, everyday) was jam packed.

We arrived in Rome late night Sunday and we luckily had the foresight when planning to get a hotel near the airport. In fact, our hotel was at the airport. When we landed, all we had to do was pick up our luggage and walk through a long terminal that ended at the footsteps of our Hilton. It was so convenient and after a day of 13.1 miles, a 2 hour flight, and jet lag we much appreciated this convenience.

Our intentions were to wake up early and take the hotel’s shuttle to downtown Rome but we were SO tired we slept in til around 10ish.

We got to Rome’s city center around noon and the shuttle dropped us off right in the middle of all good stuff with the Colosseum  and Pantheon within walking distance.

In fact, when we got off the shuttle the first thing we “saw” was the Colosseum. Or so we thought. Now, remember that we’ve never seen it in person. All we had to go by was history books and the movie Gladiator. We stood looking up at this building (large, but definitely the massiveness that we expected) severely disappointed. This was it?? There’s no way! We could hear other tourists around us asking each other the same thing.

Then the driver, who spoke broken English, said, “No. This not Colosseum. This is theatre.”

Whew!! For a second there we had had our spirits broken. Ben and I laughed at ourselves and took pictures in front of what we then dubbed the faux-losseum. Jaja!!!

The Faux-losseum

Teatro Marcello AKA: The Faux-losseum

There was a small restaurant close by where we decided to get lunch and yeah, it was pretty amazing 🙂 I had lasagna and Ben had a pizza with a whole bunch of stuff on it. Amazing.

The soda was only $5 at this little restaurant. Lol!

The soda was only $5 at this restaurant lol!

Then….I HAD GELATO!!! I took some to go as we got our sight seeing started. It was seriously amazing and I ended up eating gelato like 3 times everyday that we were there.

Nom!

Nom!

We decided that our first stop would be the Pantheon which was closest to where we were at. Along the way, we saw this:

20140428_062904

Yes, the guy is holding up the other guy with just that stick!! And, his arm wasn’t shaking AT ALL. The guy on top was super still too! The whole thing was just crazy.

Finally, we reached the Pantheon.

20140428_060914

20140428_061914
I’m not a huge history buff but I did know this was a must see.

We hung out for a bit then continued onward. Next stop, the real Colosseum.

On our way there, we swung by a church (and there were quite a few of them!).

Outside

Outside

 

Inside!

Inside!

We kept at it reaching our final destination.

They had this poster on a wall near the Colosseum:

20140428_065843

And this is the real thing:

20140428_073216

At the top of each entry way was a number. So back in the day, when people would look for their seats they’d know which “section” to go to. Cool, huh?

so awesome

20140428_071228_7

We decided not to pay to go inside the Colosseum. It was pretty expensive and we had a pretty good view of the inside from the outside looking in. We were okay with just that 🙂

On our way back to our meeting spot for hotel shuttle pick-up, we swung by another church. This one was huuuge!

I don't know what this church is called :( but it was stunning.

I don’t know what this church is called 😦 but it was stunning.

Where's Helly?? :)

Where’s Helly?? 🙂

And then the inside:

This was the entrance leading inside.

This was the entrance leading inside.

That ceiling!

That ceiling!

The size of the statues inside were incredible!

The size of the statues inside were incredible!

We took a ton of pictures of this church. There was so much to look at!

When we left, we headed back to the location of the faux-losseum for our ride back to the hotel–not before getting lost of course!! Lol!

We finally made it and on our way, took a pit stop here:

20140428_052930

Around 7 o’clock and 8-10 miles later we were back in our room completely exhausted. We knew had a busy day ahead of us so we wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

Next stop: Florence and Pisa!!

If you missed my Spain re-cap and/or my Rock n Roll Madrid 1/2 Marathon recap, here ya go!

Hope you all had a good weekend and have a happy Monday!

–What was your weekend like? Total miles? (28 for me)

–Have you seen the movie Gladiator?

Visit to the Allergy Scare Site

I interrupt this Euro Recap Special to talk about my run yesterday.

If you remember, a couple of months ago I ran a familiar route in my neighborhood only to land in the Emergency Room after. Somewhere along the way, I started swelling in my lips and ears and saw hives creepy crawl up from my toes to the rest of my body covering me completely. It was one of the scariest days of my life.

Since then, I haven’t run in my neighborhood for fear of have a relapse. I’m now forced to carry an Epi-pen in the event something like that happens again so I’m at least better prepared, but the anxiety of even getting near the area of when it started has kept me away.

Until yesterday.

I woke up wanting to run and knew I could head to my gym and get some treadmill miles or go along the canal where I usually run with my running group. Or I could run around my neighborhood. With my mom visiting, I have this luxury of options.

I decided to forego having to travel by car anywhere and run a route I’ve done nearby. I knew I didn’t want to tempt fate and do the exact route of the allergy scare, but I wanted to at least go near it for some reason–kinda just to see.

So off I went. Started out along the same path and when it came time to go down the bike path where I swear was the cause of my allergy attack, I bypassed it and went down a main street instead.

Once I had gone completely around it, around mile 2, I reached the end of the “tunnel” where I would’ve come out from had I gone down that path. This was when I first started to feel the tingling sensation in my fingers. The first sign of something wrong.

20140508_081116

I felt perfectly fine. I stopped and took this ^ picture and thought about that day and how a simple run became a life changing experience. It’s never completely out of my mind. When I run, for a split second I wonder if it’ll happen again. I push the thought back in my brain and refocus but it’s always there. That little speck of anxiety and fear hanging out in the deep, dark corners of my head.

I went back to running and did a quick body feel and no welts or hives in sight.

20140508_081124

I finished the easy 4 mile run and was relieved that it had been an eventless journey. I was prepared in case something had happened, running with my phone (which I usually never do) and with my Epi-pen (which I mostly always do) in my SPI belt.

It’s going to be a while before I can run without wondering if something might happen. I think it’s normal and just a part of having gone through something traumatic. Especially since doctors found no real culprit to the cause of my attack. I’m pretty certain it was something in that tunnel. A bug I ate, or a bug that bit me (I didn’t feel any), a tree, a flower, a bush, something….I have no idea.

It’s the not knowing that’s so unnerving.

–Have you had something scary happen to you while on a run?

–Do you ever run with some kind of fear?

Have a good weekend everyone! I’ll be back to tell you all about Italy 🙂