We had a late afternoon flight out of Florence, and this enabled us to spend some time in the city, which was really nice because we were more relaxed and not as rushed to see all the sights. It made the time there much more enjoyable. Plus, it seemed less crowded, and the weather was perfect, around 70 F and sunny with a breeze. You just can’t beat that. It also gave us a chance to stay at the Hotel Casci, which we loved because it was really nice, and the people who run it are so warm and friendly. I was glad to get to see them again.
After my final huge Euro breakfast (it’s such an American thing), we spent the day getting some last minute souvenirs, which worked our beautifully. We even got some original water color prints from an artist we got to watch paint them. Then we headed off to the airport around 1:00 caught our connecting flight to Paris. The Florence airport is pretty small, but they had a nice wine shop where the woman let us sample the selections. She also gave an in-depth explanation of the wines and the regions where the grapes came from. She might as well have been speaking Italian to me (actually, she might have been), because I know nothing about wine. However, there was one R and I both liked, so we got a few bottles for friends and ourselves, which is nice because it’s regional Tuscan wine. How cool is that?
The flight to Paris was about two hours, and then we had about an hour layover, which isn’t much when you’re dealing with a huge airport like De Gaulle. It’s massive, and since we were on a small airplane, we landed way out in the middle of nowhere. We had to catch a bus over the main terminal and then get on the big 747 home. Needless to say, we were a little pressed for time, especially when the stupid bus took awhile to show up. You could see people starting to stress, myself included. Then again, the return trip is always less stressful.
At De Gaulle, we lucked out again when we arrived at the gate. We were scrambling to get there on time, but for whatever reason, we didn’t need to go through security. I was a little concerned about taking the wine through, but we breezed pass. When we got to the gate, there were hundreds of people waiting to board. The plane was huge, and it was full. Luck shined on us, however, because they started boarding people on the other end, where we happened to be standing, so we were some of the first ones to get on. I don’t think this unreasonable when you’re with young kids, but that’s just me.
The flight home from Paris is a long one, about 7.5 hours, but the new trans-Atlantic planes are comfortable and equipped with TV screens at every seat. This is a fabulous thing when you’re traveling with kids. We flew over on an Airbus which had it, and I was hoping for an Airbus on the way home, but it was a Boeing. I was so bummed, but my disappointment was unfounded because the 747 has the screens, as well. My bad.
I think R wanted the kids to get some sleep before we landed, but with a TV screen in front of them with movies, TV shows, and even video games, fat chance of that happening. The kids had a blast, and didn’t want to sleep for a moment. We both relaxed a little about our home policy of no video games and let them enjoy their last hurrah. It worked out well. We landed in Boston, walked to the hotel (the Hilton is connected to the airport), and were asleep before our heads hit the pillows.
The next morning we all woke up early, around 5:00AM, but felt rested after a good night’s sleep. We went downstairs and scored another good trip vibe at the restaurant, where they told us the kids eat free at the breakfast buffet. Woo-hoo! Life is good. Now breakfast buffets in America are nothing like the ones you get in Europe, at least at the smaller hotels. We’ve eaten breakfast buffets in bigger hotels in Barcelona and Amsterdam, where the spreads were amazing with everything you can imagine, and more. When you stay in smaller places, however, the selection is smaller and more European, with more stuff like baked goods (pastries, croissants), fresh fruit, and yogurt. You don’t get the piles of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes/French toast that you get in American breakfasts.
The Europeans tend to eat accordingly. They just don’t seem to be breakfast eaters, usually opting for a croissant and cappuccino, followed by a cigarette, even when they have the option to eat a feast. Now I tend to pork out at breakfast buffets, I can’t help it. Free refills beckon me, and it’s a little embarrassing being the hungry American, but what are you going to do?
Either way, now that we were back in the US, it was time to eat like an American, and the breakfast buffet at the Hilton is fabulous. Plus, as I mentioned, the kids ate free, so there was no question we were eating there. It was sure nice to be back home, or at least back in the America.
After breakfast, since we had a fair amount of time, the kids wanted to get one last swim in the pool, and I sat and did a quick workout in the gym, which is connected to the pool. Then it was onto the bus and to our home. One thing I love about the return trip is when you enter Vermont, you just know you’re home. It’s a great feeling, and the weather thus far has been perfect.
My Mentor was waiting for us at the bus depot to take us home, and it was nice chatting with him on the ride back. In addition to being a Renaissance Man and a real manly man, my Mentor is well traveled and is a great story teller, so we sat and enjoyed listening to his tales of his travels in Europe. He’s been to Croatia, but he went 20 years ago, when it was still Eastern bloc. That’s a serious adventure.
It sure is good to be back home. The cats seemed happy to see us, and as I mentioned, the weather has been great. Fall is in the air, which makes it easier to do work outside and on the house. HH stopped by with the girls to say hi, and we all hit the sack early, exhausted, but thrilled to be back.