Monday, March 3, 2008

London to Florence

Summer 2007

We were on our way to a 10-day trip to Italy via London.
We flew Virgin Atlantic from LAX to London -- and had a great experience again! It is just a fabulous airline. We arrive in London and stay at the Marriott London County Hall right by the London Eye. Hotels in London are not cheap, but the Marriott is a great location... right next to the River Thames and withing walking distance to the London Eye (where we met a funny Brit named Elvis... classic!)

Now, we decide that we want to have an adventure, so we are going to take a train to Italy... We take the Eurostar from London to Paris -- amazing train experience. Then, we need to take a cab to the train station across town to pick up the overnight train to Florence. Now, we are feeling pretty good after the Eurostar (fast train) experience and are so excited. We get to the train station and wait... This is also the time I realize I need to really double check the signs when reading them. When the girls have to go to the bathroom, we walk right over to the sign that looks like a girl and walk right in -- to the MEN'S bathroom... Yikes!!! Well, there was noone in there, so we weren't tipped off by the people in the bathroom... It did look kind of odd when we walked in and there were no toilet seats and they had urinals in the back area. I just thought -- 'those wacky Europeans and their odd restrooms.' I finally realized what happened when we were met by a group of men coming in as we were leaving... I laughed about this for a while -- the girls did not ;-)
So, we get on the train and are sent to our compartment/room... We accept that this small little place will be our home for the next 16 hours and we are fine with it (until about 2am when my husband and I are bouncing around the top bunk and unable to sleep at all). We finally move down to the bottom bunk and slide in next to the girls... Mind you... the bunks are about half the width of a twin bed... We were so tired, we became really slap-happy... all the while the girls were sleeping like little angels... And, by the way, they LOVED the train ride.
Our daughter here is loving the top bunk (until later in the night when she wants to move down to the bottom one)...

Daddy trying to sleep (in the same bunk with our daughter)...

The view from the train before the sun set... makes it all worth while! Only 12 more hours to go (in the dark ;-)

We arrive in Florence and get our passports back after quite a long wait (did I tell you that they keep your passports when you get on the train, so thiefs won't jump on at one of the stops and have some easy 'picking' while you are asleep?). This was told to us by a local when we were having a hard time giving up our passports to our valet at the beginning of the trip. This is how they do things and we were not there to argue. But, it was weird and we did make sure our compartment was locked tightly when we were going to bed...

The train station in Florence was pretty deserted -- except for our fellow train passengers. We could not find a cab to save our lives... So, we waited and waited and waited. We were going to call a cab or the hotel -- like some of the other weary travelers were doing -- but my cell phone battery was dead... of course it was ;-) So, we waited and waited... Then, a cab pulled in looking for someone who had called for one... He couldn't find the person who called him and asked us if we needed a ride... "SI, GRAZIE!!!"

He was a very nice man and knew exactly where our hotel was in Florence... So, we were on our way!

Copyright 2008

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