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Trip Log 12.  Day 12.  Florence, the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Boboli Gardens

Sunday October 24, 2010. My Ffizi? No, Uffizi.

I wake up and I ain't so good. I think the water has gotten to me. Now this sounds strange, but I haven't been drinking any tap water anywhere - only bottled water. In a double, triple sized gigantic beautiful sparklingly bottle, sealed at the top and all. It costs 15 euro cents. So about 20 cents American. Can you imagine that? Anyway, based on the cheap price, I'm guessing that whoever is bottling this stuff is just using tap water from who-knows-where. Hmmm.

When we left home, I talked with the Kaiser Permanente Travel Nurse, who told me that Cipro is "contraindicated" for Italy. That means "I ain't gonna give it to you Charlie." In past trips to Turkey and maybe one other place, Cipro was the key to getting me over the bad water thing and back on track.

Well, we had five tablets left over from a couple of years ago, and luckily we brought that, so Sharon starts me off on it. I know from experience that I won't start feeling well again for about 24-36 hours, so I hunker down to endure. Also from our experience, my voice gets really weak, and it's hard a) for me to talk with any force, and b) I'm hard to understand. Understand?

And the bottom line of all of that is that I don't feel like making my usually jaunty notes today, so sorry. Hopefully tomorrow.

From our misadventures and experience two days ago, we know exactly where to go, and which direction, and have marked a map with exactly where our stops will be today. That's refreshing anyway. Jerry gets us to the underground parking. We walk out and up, and around the fort to where the streets take off for the old town hot spots.

Shirley is on top of the world.

Sharon (another "cat" person, as is Shirley) has read that a lady feeds and waters cats along a stretch of fence adjacent to a park, and after we park ourselves and walk a bit, we come to the very place she's read about. Here kitty kitty kitty. {The first day we came to Florence and the guys were focusing on where to get us to the Accademia, I saw an elderly woman (no, not me) ride up on a bicycle and start calling in a high voice what I assume was "kitty, kitty". Out of the park started coming various cats to bowls she obviously put out for them. This next day, we could see bowls of water but didn't see the lady or the cats again. I love the idea of someone feeding the feral cats of Italy, but we never saw a male caat that had been neutured. I guess they haven't gotten to that idea yet to control the population.}

I poke the lens of my camera between two vertical bars of a fence to see one of the beneficiaries.

The first leg of our trip to the Uffizi actually brings us past the Duomo, one of the most famous churches in the world.

Sharon has read to us about the golden doors, and hopefully she will tell you about that here. Your run-of-the-mill normal cathedral-style doors are shown for comparison. They are around the corner from the golden ones. {These are copies of the original golden doors which are now in a museum. There are scenes from the life of Christ and as at Pisa, people polish some parts by touching them. A lot of theories about these kinds of things are that they serve as "picture" books for those parts of the population who did not read to teach them about the bible stories.}

As we are walking along, Sharon says something rather mindblowing to us. She said yesterday, as we were traveling through San Casciano, she thought she saw a sign that said that town is a sister city to Morgan Hill, California. About ten miles from our house. Could that be? I doubt it, but we'll check the internet when we get back home tonight. [I looked it up on the internet, and indeed Morgan Hill has four sister cities, one of them being San Casciano, Italy! Sharon also recalls that in last year's Morgan Hill Fourth of July Parade, she saw a float with people who were actually there from Italy.] {Small world, huh?}

We get some nice photos of the Duomo,

then continue on to the Uffizi, which we finally reach. Again, we are outside our time window, but they don't care and give us our tickets. In we go. Sharon has studied the top ten features inside the Uffizi, and has us mustered, as opposed to mustard, and ready to rock and roll. {It's clear that the guys are not "museu" people so we try to spare them the hours that Shirley and I would probably spend in these places. Rick Steves has great travel books titles "Top 10 places" in Florence, Rome, etc. In those he will list the "Top 10" things to see in each museum and how to get to them quickly. That enables you to not have to wander through the hundrds of rooms and get overwhelmed. I know that Jerry with his bad back and Bob not feeling well appreciate this feature and there are thousands of paintings, most of them with similar themes so we still get to see the "biggies"}

I am totally worn out before we begin, from my weakened condition, but here we go. We are at the beginning.

(L) The piazza near the Uffizi. (R) I love the contrasting blue-green and yellow colors in this shot.

(L) A cover cloaks this building under renovation. We don't know if the cover is "vanilla" or actually shows what the building will look like when they're done. (R) Marble statues near the entrance.

What I remember is: paintings, paintings, more paintings, paintings from guys I don't know, paintings from guys I do know, a couple of famous ones, and I am tired to death, taking a seat whenever I see one, as I go faster than everybody but Jerry, who joins me as we spot available chairs and benches.

Halfway through and we have views of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio (Vecchio Bridge). This bridge is famous because it is lined with goods for sale to tourists, and probably a bunch of more meaningful stuff, but I just don't care. There are no photos taken inside the Uffizi because they don't allow it. And because I don't have the energy to surrep the titious.

(L) and (R) The Ponte Vecchio, or Vecchio Bridge, over the Arno River {Ponte Vecchio means "old bridge" and there is a passageway (that you can see as the plain white upper part) through which the royals could pass over to the Boboli Palace without getting wet (or having to mingle with the common folk)}

To me, this tower says "Uffizi"

We take a little rest break, looking out the big windows. On the banks of the Arno, just below us, a solitary rower takes to the river. We watch him over the next half hour, exercising up and down the river.

Wait. That's a Grey Heron and some kind of tern over the Arno. Hey, cool. It's 10:15 am.

Then I get an energy boost from an elevator sign. Sharon asks if there is a special elevator for a handicapped tour, and the guards snap to, sharply, getting us on an elevator that says this, in English:


Nice day.

I think we have lunch somewhere in here, and visit the Ponte Vecchio.

(L) Sharon has read about this chain of padlocks. (R) And maybe she'll tell you about them right here. Sharon? {Acutally we saw something like this on "The Amazing Race" TV show in which contestants racing around the world had one key and had to find the lock it fit to get their next clue. There are literally thousands of locks here on about 3 chains and we don't actualy know why. Did one person forget his lock here and start a trend? Quien Sabe (Oh, wait, that's Spanish. Next country.}


(L) and (R) Classic views. You can see the rower in the left photo, and flowers give new color to the scene in the right.

I can't get over how interesting and beautiful the world is here, even from my miserable point of view.

Which reminds me. Which is it worse to be sicker than a? Horse or dog? I think dog.

(L) I like this shot because it's one of the little "boxes" as I call them, or stores right on the bridge. You can see the Arno out the window of this jewelery shop. (R) Normal every-day hustle and bustle. {The traditional speciality store on this bridge for centuries is gold and we see many jewelry shops. Bob and Jerry are glad that we don't stop.}

Visitors crowd along the Ponte Vecchio to look at the next two bridges.

Then when I'm my most pooped, we visit the Boboli Gardens. It's huge, and I'm ready to lie down on the gravel. Come on Cipro, start doing your thing.

(L) Actually I don't think this was taken at the Boboli Gardens, but rather near where you buy tickets to get in. (R) King Leo looks hungry. {We also discover at this stop something that helps us tremendously for the rest of our trip. After the guard helped us because of our handicapped status at the Uffizi, I ask Bob to ask the Ticket seller "Do you have any discount or help for handiccapped?" She, to our amazement says,"Yes, each handicapped person gets in free with one companion also in free." That covers all of us, so from now on we will ask if they have this feature. Yeah, Italy! for taking such great care of us "Older people". Those older than 65 can always get in free but you have to be a "member of the European Union" which we are not}

(L) A geometric bit of garden greets us as we enter. (R) The layout is such that when you enter, the gardens are laid out before you, rising in elevation as your gaze lifts.

(L) A waiting area, till you get the energy to head in. (R) A giant bathtub. There's probably a good story here, but I don't know it.

(L) The hedge-trimmer guy surely enjoys his work. (R) Sister Shirley, checking out a small building.

(L) Ol' King Neptune. (R) Stairs leading up to what looks like the top of the gardens. I don't go. None of us do, for that matter.

(L) This 3D statue, I guess I'll call it, is made up of shaped metal plates, and is just as interesting from the back as it is modern artistic from the front and sides. (R) Jerry and Sharon contemplate the face.

(L) There seem to be miles of wide gravel paths through the gardens. (R) and this is my view, leaving the group and walking down to the lowest part to rest.

(L) There are lots of fountains, (R) including this guy - frontal...

... and from the side.

We get a little lost in the Boboli, and to me, it seems like we'll never get out. But we do, and I get one last bridge-over-the-River-Arno photo as we head for the car, which as you recall, we parked about a hundred miles away.


I must be feeling a LITTLE better because I'm interest in a gull over the water Sharon has spotted. It has a red bill, red feet and dark trailing edge on its outer wings. [We later ID this as a Slender-billed Gull].

We finally make it back to the parking garage and head for home, with me sleeping in the shotgun seat, and I am finally feeling slightly better, probably because I know I don't have to go see the Uffizi tomorrow.

On the way out, I note two statues, shown below. The first one looks like a combination of bones and dancing. The second one I mentioned earlier - the impossibly cantilevered, balanced statue on the head of another.

I wake up and Jerry's pulling us into Castle Bibbione, front-first down the first driveway, then as Jerry has worked out, it's much better to BACK down the last leg to be in front of our place, than to drive down head first, and have to back out from down there.

We have something or other to eat, and I feel good enough to play some cards, still having to hit the bathroom often.

Somebody just can't stand it, so at one point, I get back from the bathroom, and this person says, "Did you miss your Turin?"

And there's more. Shirley at one point says she would not do something or other that is against her principles (like crowd in front of a blind person? I don't know exactly what. I'm tired). She summarizes with, "That goes against my grain. My graine. Hey, Migraine." This gives me a slight er, what's the word?

Then we start recalling funny things we've heard here at the castle. Our check-in person, Sara, was very helpful in explaining how things worked, but she didn't know much about the dishwasher. She said she would get the manual, and come back the next day. When she returned, and was going through the manual (written in Italian of course), she said with a big smile, "I know how to use most of the things here, but I'm not too friendly with the dishwasher." {A classic translation "funny." We would say "I'm not too familiar with this" which she translated to "Not too friendly"}

Then tonight, as Jerry made some kind of deft move with the cards in his hand, said, "They don't call me Johnny Fastfingers for nothing." To which Shirley said, "You mean you have to pay?"

Good night. Tomorrow will be a better day. I can feel it.

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