A Day at the Milan Airport
24.07.2010 - 29.07.2010 31 °C
Steve- We are now hunkered down at the Milan Airport for another 3 hours… (apparently we missed our original flight- I say this because we had conflicting times in our itinerary and went with the more heavily documented, and convenient, flight, which turned out to be wrong. So we ended up with a 4 hour delay at the airport- not so bad… Honestly, I am really glad to be leaving Italy at this point namely because of the language barrier- very tiring! It really manifested itself in our final 2 ½ hour drive from Viareggio to Milan and trying to figure out how to return the rental car- it will be nice to get some English signage everywhere in London…
Viareggio was very nice but not as nice as the countryside in Tuscany….there was a ton of stuff for kids to do but without very much help from our hotel staff we feel as though we only figured out a fraction of the town. We did have a very nice dinner in a non-consecrated church on Tuesday night and spent two full days playing at the beach on the Mediterrean sea. It is very interesting and different how they handle their beaches here- each 200 yard (long) x 50 yard (wide)stretch of beach is owned by a different family who grooms the beach, operates a snack bar and provides chairs and umbrellas for a $20 fee all day. At first, it was very strange and hard to get used to it but by our third beach day we felt pretty connected to our beach hosts! There are numerous other differences between Viareggio and Ocean City (although they are quite comparable) including the swimming (lots of broken up kelp in the water) and the sand (nice, but not as nice as OC). One thing that is really cool about the Med-beaches is that you can play ball in the ocean. Sara, Max, Sam and I had a blast throwing around a soccer ball in the waves and on the beach.
So overall we spent five days in Viareggio and took two side trips (to Pisa and Cinque Terre). The Cinque Terre is a National Park consisting of a ton of hiking trails (costal hiking, incredible views) that connects 5 coastal cities that evolved independently over thousands of years…It was amazing to see, even from the car. We ended up taking a bus to the first town, walking along a sea path to the second, and then using trains to see a third. Unfortunately, it was amazingly hot and way too much walking for our kids. So we negotiated (“let’s get an ice cream at the top of that hill”) pushed (“c’mon, if we don’t move faster we will miss that bus!”) and prodded (“anyone who stays up with me walking gets a ride on my head”) our way through the day. By the end of the day, we were all cooked! (I highly recommend the Cinque Terre for anyone, just don’t take kids) We ate what we thought would be our final Italian meal, pasta, I then put the kids down early to begin the arduous task of packing. Lisa went out shopping but was stymied by the strange store hours (she’ll explain more) and then we got up early and drove through a rainstorm to Milan. I am very excited to be headed to London!
So after doing the European thing- I’ve figured it out….it is a very contrasting lifestyle to ours. Huge breakfasts, then shopping, etc….’til 1- then the stores all close down for the heat of the day. Nap and beach all day- you can’t beat the heat any other way- and on the days when we did traipse through hot cities and cool towns, the kids were miserable- so we bribed them with ice cream and chocolate, prizes to but to keep them motivated, and while we did see some very exciting things (to us grown ups) the kids were kinda bored… unless they were swimming on the beach or in the pool. Then you have light snacks until you eat a big sit down eat diner and not until at least 7:15 at night. The stores open back up around 5 until 8pm, then close for the dinner hours, then re-open at 10 pm til midnight or 1am- then you go to the bars!! Now of course, we continued to go to restaurants at 5:30/6 and then ended up walking around with starving kids until 7:15….then finally ate- went to bed and the one night I actually went out to shop, the stores were all closed unitl 10 pm (typical!!)
So today we are flying out of Italy… and I’ve got this place figured out! I need to stay another week or 2 now!!
Cinque Terre (CHINK-wa- TER-ay) was an amazing place- 5 lands and you traveled to them by either hiking or train or boat- we hiked from town 1 to town 2 along the cliffsides on the amore trail- years ago when the 2 towns finally made a pathway through connecting the towns, the people started to marry outside of their towns- it is like lovers lane- and the couples place a padlock somewhere along the path to “lock” their love… It has been going on for years and now it has become a very popular thing for the couples all over Italy to go on a date and put a padlock on the trail…. It is very cool- there is love graffiti spray painted all along, inside the tunnels through the mountains, etc- one of my favorite walks through Italy this trip.