A Winter Break in Tuscany – Day Two in Florence

Florence, Cathedral, Italy

Florence Cathedral

Some people prefer renting a car during holidays and some would use public transport, just like me. I enjoy walking, and I think renting a bicycle and travelling by train is fun. I have been witness in how difficult is to park in Italy because of tourists parking somewhere they shouldn’t. The Pisa Centrale Train Station was about twenty minutes walk from our hotel in Pisa and we decided to get train tickets to visit Florence.

Italy has a good network of trains and they are very punctual. It takes about 40 minutes to get from Pisa to Florence by train and the journey offers lovely views of the Italian landscape, the green fields, rivers, and farms. Florence is a charming big city, and I knew it would be impossible to visit the entire city and all attractions in just one day, so that meant we had to be careful regarding the time would spend there . Florence is a city where museums and galleries are everywhere and at a short distance so it is easy to walk from one place to another. First we visited the Duomo and Cathedral, and we were very impressed in how big the Cathedral is, and after making a long queue we got inside to see the beautiful paintings and frescoes. After that we went to look for a place to have lunch, and not far from the Duomo we found a restaurant called ‘Tavernetta del Battistero’ in Via dei Servi. My husband and I ordered sea food spaghetti and our son ordered a giant calzone filled with meat and sausages. We loved the food, the service was excellent and I found myself speaking in Italian with our waiter who was very kind.

Food, Italy, Florence, Sea Food

Sea Food Spaguetti

After lunch we visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum which is a small museum but it is perfect for children as they can actually interact and play with the machine displays.

There are massive museums and galleries in Florence and in order to visit all of them you would have to spend maybe between three or five days in the city. You could try to get the tickets for the museums near The Duomo but there are very long queues and the numbers of tickets are limited so they sold out quick. We were told it is far better to pre-book the tickets in advance online, like two or three months before our next holiday in Florence.

Florence, Italy, Ponte Vecchio, Holidays

 Ponte Vecchio

It was middle afternoon and we went for a walk to Piazza della Reppublica which is a very colourful and busy square. We walked along a street with many high street shops like Versace and Gucci, and shortly arrived near the Arno river. There is this special place in Florence where couples in love get engaged, and it is a bridge called Ponte Vecchio. The bridge has many tiny antique shops, and it has a sort of magical feeling, it is like the bridge is enchanted.

Florence, Love, Ponte Vecchio, Italy

Locked in Love

We were short of time and we had to make our way to the train station but before that I wanted to stop in a coffee shop, so that’s how I found the little Caffe Corsini. I couldn’t leave Florence without having a nice cup of coffee. We would love go back to Florence and next time stay for maybe a week to keep exploring and visit the other side of the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Italy, Coffee, Florence, Holidays

Coffee Time

After visiting Florence we went back to our hotel in Pisa, we were knackered but happy! And it was time to rest as we would visit Lucca the next day. So my next post will be about the city of Lucca.

A Winter Short Break in Tuscany, Day One in Pisa

The view from our bedroom balcony.

The view from our bedroom, best view ever!.

Every time I visit beautiful Italy is like having a perfect holiday. The north of Italy has been in my list of places to visit, so I thought it would be special to go there during the Christmas season, and I did a booking for a 3 day short break in Tuscany for my family.

Many may ask, what can you do in three days when Tuscany is so big?. Well, you can actually do a lot, and that involves walking, so you don’t have to worry or feel guilty about eating pizzas or calzones because you will be doing a lot of walking and burning calories. There are many places to visit in Tuscany so we decided to go to Pisa, Florence and Lucca.

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Oh it is so heavy! : )

We arrived to Pisa early morning which gave us plenty of time to check in at our hotel and explore Pisa the first day. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Duomo which is well located near the attractions in Pisa. The hotel is very old but charming and it gave me a feeling of staying in a mansion because of the wooden walls, paintings, leather sofas, and chandeliers, I just loved it. Something very special about the hotel is the bar they have in the top terrace, there you will fall in love with the view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, especially at night it is absolutely beautiful.

Of course Pisa major attraction is the famous Pisa Tower, and it is located in what its called ‘The Field of Miracles’ or Campo Dei Miracoli and there you will find other places of interest like Pisa’s Cathedral and The Duomo, the museum and Baptistry and Camposanto. You will need to purchase a ticket to access the attractions from the Tourist Office near The Duomo.

Our favourite place to eat in Pisa is called Ristoro Pizzeria Da Antonio, in Via Santa Maria in front of the Gran Hotel Duomo. They have lovely pizzas, many popular pasta dishes at a good price and it is child friendly. We loved it so much that it became our favourite place to have dinner every night.

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Tiramisu, you are so yummi!!

I think Pisa is a good start point if you plan to travel around Tuscany by train. It is about twenty minutes walk from Pisa to the Train Station, and from there we purchased our train tickets to Florence and Lucca. Pisa is a quiet charming little city and at night it was nice to walk between the Pisa Train Station and our hotel. During Christmas the streets are lovely decorated, people are doing shopping, or walking their dogs or having ice cream (yes it was freezing cold but it doesn’t matter, ), and my son didn’t hesitate to try an Oreo flavoured gelato. Well and of course it is a must to stop in one of the many coffee shops, because cappuccino and cake are extra special in Italy.

My next blog will be about Florence, so I am looking forward to share it with you.

The Jedi Training Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando

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My family and I are big fans of the Star Wars saga and we had an incredible time when we recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and our son took part in the Jedi Training Academy show. I had planned it for months, spent time reading many web sites, specially the web site of the Disney Forum which helped me a lot regarding the park and event information, so once we arrived to Orlando we knew exactly what to do. I have done a priority list for the ones planning on doing the same for their children:

  • Get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios Orlando as early as possible. If you have a park leaflet check on the opening times, for example if the park opens at 8am I would suggest you to be there one hour before. It happens that sometimes the parks open earlier than normal (and they don’t mention this in the leaflets). So if you arrive early you could be one of the first visitors inside the park and avoid long queues.
  • Once inside the park you will have to make a reservation for the Jedi Training at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost located near the Indiana Jones Epic stunt.
  • You will get a special ticket for the Jedi Training Trials of the Temple with your chosen time for the show. Shows are daily between 9:40am and 9:10pm. Once you have your ticket keep it safe like gold!, and don’t be late for your training.
  • The experience is only for children between 4 and 12 years old and the spaces are limited. It is a 25 minutes show next to the Star Tours 3D ride.
  • Parents will be with their children until show time, the little ones will be given a brown Jedi costume and lightsaber which is really cool as they will look like real Jedis!. You can take as many pictures or videos as you want during the show.
  • It is exciting for the children to wait and see who they will fight with, is it with Vader or is it with the Seventh Sister?. At the beginning there will be two lines of children, smaller children go at the front, the older ones in the back, later on they break the lines to do a training circle in the main stage and after that the children are taken to the upper stage and lower stage in a random way. My son was able to fight with the Seventh Sister and he was so happy, he said it was the best experience ever.
  • At the end the children get a certificate saying they have passed the Jedi Training and with this you will hear them talking about the experience for a long long time. If you have a Disney Photopass you will find all the pictures (taken by Disney’s professional photographers) of this event loaded in the card.

 

 

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Is your child shy or maybe having double thoughts about taking part in the training ?. I can tell you, my son is a big Star Wars fan but for some reason he was a bit shy and not sure about taking part on the training just one day before the event. But, once he had the reservation ticket in his hands and saw himself together with other children then I could guess he was very excited because he had a huge smile on his face.

May the force be with you, always!.

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A 70 Year Old Girl

 

My mum at Penrhyn Castle, North Wales.

My mum at Penrhyn Castle, North Wales.

It has been a while since writing in my blog, and this is because my mum was visiting England and we spent quality time together, she is not just my mum she is a good friend too.

This is the third time my mum visits England, she is in her 70’s with a bit of health issues but nothing to worry about. It takes more than 14 hours the flight between Peru and the UK but she is used to it now. She is an adventurous girl, a good traveller and she isn’t scared of the long haul flight but she always carries her rosary.

She doesn’t usually travel with dad, and she doesn’t say that she misses him but when she speaks over the phone with him, I can guess by the tone of her voice that she really misses him. My dad isn’t a frequent flyer as my mum, he says that is because he doesn’t speak English and that is the reason why he isn’t interested in travelling abroad. I’m in the process of making him change his mind.

My mum learnt English when she was a teenager in Peru, but she hasn’t practice the language in years. She understands what is going on around her when she is here, tries to read the newspapers or magazines with my help but she struggles when talking to others. It was interesting to see her trying to speak to my mother in law, it was more like a ‘spanglish’ conversation, so funny, and somehow they understood each other. My mother in law and mum are friends and that makes me happy.

We went for a walk to Liverpool city centre and she was telling me about her memories in the 60’s with the Beatles fever. She said ‘Sweetheart, the fans would scream like lunatics and some of them would faint of excitement!’. We also went to Wales as she loves the castles, we visited Penrhyn Castle and when we were walking in the castle gardens she said: ‘ If a castle would be able to talk, can you imagine all the stories that it would tell?’. She loves trees, and she likes to hug them, she always says ‘ its good to hug a big tree, old trees are full of energy and that’s good for the human body’. She is catholic but she has her spiritual side too.

My mum is the one who gave me all her support when I met my husband, as a good friend she would always listen to me when telling her about my ‘cyberboyfriend’. She knew I met this guy on a Online Dating site, he lived in the UK, I was living in Peru, and at that time I would never imagine getting married with him. One day when I was deeply sad my mum said to me : ‘If he really loves you he will show it, and the distance between you and him won’t be a problem’. She was right.

It is always difficult to say good bye to mum, at the airport my heart breaks to see her leave. She has an English family in this side of the world, my husband and son love her to pieces and we are making sure she enjoys life. She says that thanks to us her dreams as a child about visiting England came true.

We love you mum!.

 

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