Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10th Anniversary Cruise! Part 2

While the Amalfi coast was perhaps our favorite place, Florence was most definitely our favorite city! What a refreshing change it was after the 4 million people city of Rome to visit Florence, which is home to only 400,000. It was just beautiful.  We really enjoyed seeing the Duomo, the baptistry's "Gates of Paradise", Ponte Vecchio, the original medieval streets, the square full of statues by the Uffizi and more. Our guide told us some lovely stories, and coupled with the study the boys and I did of Michelangelo last year, it was just so neat to see history come to life. We also had some very tasty chianti and gelato here, as well as the best cappuccino of the trip. :)

The Gates of Paradise. These are actually replicas as the originals got damaged by a flood and after restoration were moved to a museum, but they are beautiful.

The Duomo, from the mid 1300's

The Duomo's dome: huge and amazing.

In Florence, the tradition is to put a coin in the wild boar's mouth and pet it's nose if you want to return, so we did. 

On Ponte Vecchio, which is full of jewelry shops. It used to be full of butcher shops, but the famous Medici family kicked out all the butchers because it was too smelly.  Philip and I tried to buy a piece of anniversary jewelry here, but we just didn't have enough time.

Living statues were all over Europe. This guy is DaVinci

Michelangelo chiseled this with his back to the wall, hands behind his back and without looking. 

After Florence, we drove to Pisa.  I was not expecting to be impressed at all, as all the pictures I've ever seen made it look like this dingy brown building.  The 1000 year old baptistry in the front of this photo is HUGE and amazing!  The church huge and beautiful and the tower was actually beautiful as well.  The white of the buidings, coupled with the bright blue of the sky made for a gorgeous place.  Wow.

Apparently it's all Philip's fault that it's leaning...

The last two days were spent in France. We went first to Nice, Cannes and Eze, which are in the French Riviera. I must say, the Amalfi coast was very beautiful in it's own way, but the Cote Azure (blue coast) of France....WOW. I have never seen water like this before.  Just stunning.  The french crepe we bought in Cannes, however, left much to be desired. On the beach behind me, Philip went swimming so he could officially say he'd be "in" the Mediterranean.  I was good with just sticking in my feet. :)

Driving along the Riviera

The medieval town of Eze (pronounced "Ehz", not "easy") was quite a ways up, and just on the other side of a hill from Monoco, which we did not visit.  It was a cute little place with some nice views, most of which you had to pay to get, which we did not. :)

Our last day, we ported in Marseille and took a half day tour to Aix on Provence. It was a beautiful little town with many buildings built in the 17th and 18th century. It was particularly beautiful because the because the rich people building homes were all competing for who could have the nicest house. We also stocked up here on our favorite European chocolates.

A church with the gothic entry, from the 14th century, on the left and the roman entry, from the 12th century on the right.

I wish I could have bottled the smell coming out of this bakery. AH-Maz-ing

It was a lovely way to end our trip.  That afternoon we enjoyed the amenties of the boat for the last time and the next morning we were back in Barcelona, ready to fly home.

There ya go, the gratuitous 10th anniversary kissing picture. I got my dress in Amalfi. By far my favorite souvenir. :) Although, the delicious chocolate we bought runs a close second...

It was a great trip.  We learned a lot about how to travel internationally, and about how to be by ourselves for nine days! First time for that since Caleb was born. :)  We are very thankful to Philip's parents for keeping the boys...and even homeschooling them...while we were gone! 

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