This is going to be a long post, but my mother and sister want to see pictures of our trip. Andrew had a week of paid vacation time (this is unusual!), so we wanted to go on a trip somewhere, but we couldn't figure out where. First we researched a lot of warm, all inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, but all the places we saw were more than we wanted to spend. After looking at a lot of options for days we still hadn't decided on anything, so on Saturday night I said, let's just do Italy. So we left the next day (Italy had been one of the options we'd researched).
We flew to Newark first thing Sunday morning, but the flight to Milan wasn't for another SIX HOURS, so we spent the whole time in the United Club. Thank goodness for a little "family room" they had, or I would have gone crazy chasing Emma for that long in an airport. That, and the free snacks/drinks. On the flight to Milan, Emma slept most of the way (thank you, Emma!) on the ground. Since we had a whole row Andrew and I were able to stretch out as much as we could and sleep.
Immediately upon arrival, we hopped on a train to Venice. Milan was not on our list of must-see places in Italy, but we flew in and out of there since that's where United flies. Emma was exhausted. As were we.
Once we got to Venice we hopped on the Vaporetto, basically a bus but it's a boat. It was amazing to just cruise along the grand canal at a nice slow pace. It was warmish and everything looked just how I pictured. Emma was over all the traveling, so we gave her oreos.
We checked into our hotel and walked around exploring. Our hotel was really close to St. Mark's, so that was convenient.
Gross pigeons. But Emma enjoyed chasing them.
On our walk back to our room that first night after dinner, Emma fell asleep. Understandably. She stayed asleep while I took off her gloves, boots, coat, hat, jeans, socks, sweater, shirt, changed her diaper, and put on her pajamas. That's one tired baby! But then she woke up when I picked her up to put her in the crib and was wired for the next 45 min.
The next day we hit all the main sights. St. Mark's square, basilica...
The Doge's Palace....
We walked through this bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, and then viewed it from the outside as well.
The Rialto Bridge
On top of the Rialto Bridge.
We ate lunch outside (under a lot of space heaters) along the grand canal, which was awesome.
Lots of cool doors in Venice!
The next morning (Wednesday), we got on another train and went to Florence! We walked around exploring when we got there and listened to Rick Steves walking audio guide. I cannot adequately express how much I have grown to love Rick Steves the last few years. I am sad whenever we go somewhere and he hasn't done an audio guide.
View from the Ponte Vecchio (the famous bridge in Florence).
I started taking pictures of Emma all the times she just laid down on the ground while we were out in public. I have an embarrassingly large number of them.
I also started taking pictures of Emma with the pretty ceilings. The ceilings are always awesome in European cathedrals and palaces, but Emma makes them even more awesome. This was in the Pitti Palace.
The Cathedral ceiling (the Duomo).
The Baptistry Ceiling.
We climbed the 463 (or so) stairs to the top of the dome. We had forgotten our ergo carrier so Andrew had to carry Emma without any help the whole way up. Phew.
She may look like she's trying to give me a kiss, but she's not. But look at those views!
We toured the Uffizi Gallery next.
On the floor again.
I wanted Emma to ride on this carousel, because that's just awesome, but someone was a buzzkill. I won't name names. Next time!
We also toured the Accademia and saw David. The best thing about doing this trip in January was there were virtually no crowds or lines anywhere. We didn't have to reserve tickets to any of the museums or wait in any lines. And we didn't have to fight our way through crowds of people to see anything. So worth being a little cold!
At the end of the day we climbed the bell tower (because we hadn't walked enough), and I loved this view of the Dome. Those teeny tiny little people walking around the top are were we walked! So high! The bell tower wasn't as tall, but it still had impressive views of the city.
The next morning (Friday), we caught another train back to Milan. We planned to spend the afternoon there and then spend the night at a hotel near the airport so we didn't have to worry about catching another train right before our flight. This is how Emma (and we) survived all the traveling. The iPad! Thank goodness she likes to watch movies.
This is Emma crying because Andrew wouldn't let her play in bird poop.
The Sforza Castle. And Emma sprinting away from me as usual.
Back view of the Castle from a park. It was nice to see green grass again.
The Arch of Peace.
The last thing we did was climb to the top of the Cathedral. There weren't very many stairs so that was nice. Emma did not want to be held, I guess.
On the ground once again.
lounging where she knows best.
Emma was ready to go home at this point. As were we.
She only slept about one hour of the 9 1/2 hour flight back to Newark. That left EIGHT HOURS to fill with an exhausted 21 month old. We watched lots of movies.
It was a fun trip! I think our spontaneous traveling days are numbered, so I was glad we got to do something like this again before Andrew starts a normal job and we have more kids.