Us :)Welcome to this first installment of our honeymoon travelogue. So far, it’s been a very interesting experience, especially if we were interested in little things not going right. In case you missed our itinerary, you can see it here…day 1 included a flight from Boston Logan to Milan, with a connection to Pisa.

First off, packing always takes longer than expected, especially when you wait until the last minute and even more so when you have two kittens attempting to stow away in your luggage. Once we finished, we still had that “we’re forgetting something” feeling, as is usual, but we left anyway (realizing on our trip to the airport that we left both of our razors at home, so hopefully that’s all that the feeling was for). Getting to Logan was no problem (thanks, John!), and waiting in several lines for Alitalia to check our luggage and pass through security was no different than the usual routine for air travel. Since our flight was at 6, and we got there the recommended 3 hours prior, we had some time to kill. Lindsay bought two Jonathan Kellerman books at Borders so that she wouldn’t have to speak to me on the flight :). Not knowing what kind of food we were going to get on the plane, we loaded up on some McDonald’s (fresh McNuggets!). 5:30 rolls around, and we’re on the queue to load the plane (see, I’m practicing my “European-speak” already!).

Once on the plane, I settled in with my accoutrement for the flight: a book (Soarer’s Choice, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.), my Nintendo DS, my phone (loaded with music and in flight mode, of course) and my newest toy, Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 3 earbuds (jury’s still out if they’re keepers). Lindsay had some girly magazines (not *those* kind – Cosmo & Glamour) and *her* newest toy, a hot-pink iPod nano, loaded with a bunch of random music and two Dane Cook comedy albums.

The flight attendants go through their usual spiel (in Italian first, then somewhat-decent English), then we get into a quick queue(!) to take off. During this time I try the Ultimate Ears to see how well they block sound. While I can still hear (probably mostly feel) the rumbling of the engines, they definitely make for a quieter takeoff, even without anything playing. I also took this time to *attempt* to listen to the in-flight audio, but plugging in to the single 1/8″ jack gave me staticky audio on the left channel, and using the plane adapter (one of those two-prong deals) gave me nothing. Not to mention the adapter kept popping out of the jacks in the armrest. I thought it might’ve been the adapter’s fault, but even the little headsets that they passed out had the same problem, for both of us. I should also mention that there are video monitors every ten rows or so, showing a little map of our route. When we first sat down, I was mildly excited to see a monitor right next to us, at a perfect viewing angle. Unfortunately the monitor showed a scrambled/off-color/unwatchable picture. This was made even better by the fact that the monitor ten rows up was even worse. Thankfully neither of us had any interest in the movie that they showed (The Painted Veil)…and it’s not like we would have been able to listen to it, anyway.

So, with my first choice for music unavailable, I plugged in to my phone to listen to some mp3s, not remembering that I was in the middle of changing out my tunes, at the point where I had deleted all of the older stuff, and not yet put anything on. So, option number two was not looking so good. I wasn’t giving up yet, though, and plugged in to the DS to play a game. I was about two minutes in to a game when an attendant happened to be walking by, saw the DS, and told me that “gameboy” isn’t allowed. Well, that just plain sucked, so I ended up listening to Lindsay’s iPod with her (thank the Shack for audio splitters!).

Between listening to music, reading, playing War! (the quickest game *ever* – Lindsay beat me in about 5 minutes, no exaggeration) and some interesting meal choices (salmon or beef? yes, I’ll have the lasagna), the rest of the flight was uneventful. Oh, Lindsay just reminded me that four hours after they served us beef stroganoff for dinner, we were served breakfast – a grilled cheese with turkey (huh?) and a danish. Also, I’ve decided that Coca-cola Light (what passes for Diet Coke out here) is disgusting, so we’ve been drinking a lot of water (with gas for me, without gas for Lindsay – and they always ask, which is pretty cool, since I prefer seltzer, as we call it).

So that brings us to the airport in Milan, where we had a three hour layover until our connecting flight…which turned into a four hour layover since the flight was delayed a half hour and our flight got in a half hour early. We spent a good hour of that time going through security and customs, where we got our passports stamped for the first time (woo!). We passed lots of interesting signs in the airport, but my favorite is “men wearing hats reading books ahead”. Men wearing hats reading books ahead!We got in line for some drinks and a muffin, and were nearly at the front when I realized that we had no non-American money, and I wasn’t sure if they’d take a credit card. So, I ran around looking for a currency exchange counter, found one, waited in line, got some funny money and then got back in time to have to wait in line again (during this time, Lindsay realized that they take American money, but oh well).

After all of this fun, we only had about an hour and a half left to wait, during which we explored the differences between American and Italian toilets (for some reason the toilets in the airport were flushed by stepping on a pedal behind the toilet itself…which led to some interesting contortions since I like to flush a lot (Lindsay says I shouldn’t have included that bit of personal information here, but this blog is all about full disclosure)).

We had to take a shuttle bus to board the plane for our flight to Pisa. The plane itself was pretty neat, it’s propeller-drivenprops! and boards from the rear, so of course we had seats in the front. The 45-minute flight was pretty uneventful…the highlight was the attendants asking us if we wanted a salty or sweet snack – Lindsay opted for the sweetLindsay likes the sweet!, which was two chocolate-filled chocolate cookies, and I chose the salty, which was a bag of “pizza snacks” – they were actually pretty good, even though I only had Coca-cola Light to wash them down.Darren likes the salty!
After landing, our plan was to retrieve our luggage and then meet the cruise line representative somewhere in the airport. Unfortunately, Alitalia decided that they didn’t like our plan, so they kept our luggage in Milan (along with about 40 other pieces of luggage). Apparently this is a common practice on flights within Italy…if the flight is too heavy, they won’t load all of the baggage. They explained it so matter-of-factly, and said that it should come over on one of the next few flights, and that they’d deliver it to our hotel the next day. Lindsay was prepared for this event, because she had packed herself an extra day’s worth of clothing in her carry-on. Unfortunately, I had no such luck, but I did have an extra pair of underwear. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, Lindsay asked me to give her an extra day’s worth of clothing to carry with us in case of this happening, but I just laughed it off and told her that it wasn’t necessary. Why she chose this one time to listen to me is beyond me, but at least she took the extra pair of underwear (thanks babe!). Luckily she also packed our toothbrushes, a travel toothpaste and her deodorant in her carry-on, but she was very upset because due to airline regulations, her makeup had to go in the checked luggage so she was not looking forward to the next few days.

We eventually met the cruise line rep, who was waiting with another couple (who had also had their luggage left in Milan), and took the hour drive over to our hotel in Firenze (that’s Florence, to the layman). Once there, we met up with Constance, our guide for the three day pre-cruise land tour, and checked in, where they gave us our room key and some other weird key which was just a small metal rod about two inches long.

We had gotten in at around 2PM, and had plans to meet in the lobby at 6PM for a drink and to discuss the next day, so we headed off to our room for a power nap. Getting in to the room proved to be difficult, since Lindsay was having trouble with the key, and we had to get someone from housekeeping to let us in (she happened to be right there anyway). Once in the room, it was dark, so we tried flipping some switches, which did…nothing. None of the switches anywhere in the room or bathroom did anything, which was quite confusing. Then I noticed that next to the switches there was a faceplate with a small hole in it, just about the same diameter as the weird extra key. Throwing away the very important life lesson of “don’t stick metal objects into holes in the wall”, I stuck the key into the hole, and voila! light! Now we were able to see our

  • two beds (awesome honeymoon!): two beds!
  • our two sinks: two sinks!
  • and best of all, our two toilets: two toilets!

(although one wouldn’t flush, but no big deal…).

Then it was naptime. While we were napping there was a knock on the door. I made Lindsay get up and heard “we found your luggage” and I got excited. Then Lindsay said “that isn’t ours” and she went back to sleep. About 20 minutes later there was another knock on the door. Lindsay answered again, and again she said “no, that isn’t ours either”. This happened at least one more time, they kept coming to our room with other people’s luggage, excitedly trying to hand them off to us, and Lindsay kept turning them away. There were even other people’s last names on these pieces of luggage, but the hotel either didn’t notice or didn’t care. By the last time it was almost funny, like a bad sitcom, and probably why we slept so long – interrupted sleep is never good sleep.

Constance Hassan!warned us not to nap for more than an hour, so of course we got a phone call to the room waking us up at 6 asking if we were going to be joining them…oops! We hurriedly got ready and met everyone outside in the garden. It was only Constance and the couple we had ridden to the hotel with, Abdul and Rozida Hassan.

Constance gave us some papers outlining the rest of our tour along with her mobile number (for emergencies only) and then we had ourselves a drink. Lindsay drank a birra and I opted for white wine (although I barely drank any, I don’t like wine). There were also some snacks on the table – potato chips, some type of a party mix and pistachios. We stayed there for over an hour chatting and getting to know Constance and the Hassans, as well as a little bit about what to expect when exploring Firenze on our own. Once we were finished there, Lindsay and I went back inside the hotel to get directions to a restaurant that was highly recommended by Lindsay’s cousin Kate, Aqua del Due. The front desk people said it was about a 20-25 minute walk and that it was very good. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell us that we’d need a reservation (and we forgot to ask), so once we got there (around 8:30) we were told they didn’t have any seating available until 11. We walked around a bit in that area, found another restaurant that was also full, and then finally settled on a little pizzeria-type place called Gusto Leo. Lindsay ordered a pizza with sausage and soft cheese and I ordered a pizza with gorgonzola (the closest I could get to blue cheese). We also both got water (again, without gas for Lindsay and with gas for myself). We paid by credit card, hoping that the credit card company doesn’t flag this as suspicious activity and shut off our access during this trip. On the walk back to the hotel we stopped for gelato. Lindsay got stracciatella (chocolate chip) and I got two flavors – cacao and nocciola (hazelnut). There is a gelateria about every five stores, which could be dangerous…but we are doing a lot of walking, and the servings aren’t that large, so it won’t be that bad.

We got back to the hotel around 9:30 or so, and ordered a wake-up call for 6:30am when we passed by the front desk (breakfast starts at 7am and we have to meet up for our tour at 8:45am). That was the end of the first day of our honeymoon (really two days, but when your only sleep the entire time is a quick nap, it really is just one looooooong day).

To view all of the pictures that relate to this entry, go here.

4 Responses to “Honeymoon – Day 1 – Boston, Florence”
  1. This is awesome. There is no way you’re going to keep up this pace of writing. And with 1 hour of sleep in two days, when did you do this? I hope things turn around for you, i’m exhausted just reading about it. The important thing is you’ll have some great memories together and many stories to tell. Yeah, that was out of character, buts its past 1am here…

    Buon viaggio!

    Lindsay – good move with the ipod!
    Darren – No gameboy? what the hell kind of airline is this??

  2. oh the jealousy pangs have begun!

    hey, this might help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidet

  3. Ann and I are sitting here living vicariously through you. You’d better do something fun in a hurry! Or we’re gonna fall asleep. You’re supposed to leave all of us at home and escape. We expect to see some awesome photos when you get home and we want Italian lessons upon your return. Have fun!! Love, your Aunts

  4. well son, the most important thing is of course is that you made it safe and sound. remember too that italy is one of those “siesta” countries, and that(relatively)late times could still constitute the early bird special. 3:20 here, so i guess you’re just about ready for the early bird. can’t wait for your 1st installment of actual touristy stuff.

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