We had a super relaxing day today and recovered from our insane adventure of yesterday. We both stayed in bed for quite a while this morning just savouring a morning with nothing on the agenda. No timelines, no deadlines… sweet nothing! Eventually we had to head out because our entire kitchen provisions include water, sparkling water, and half a bag of chips. There is also a small jar of raspberry jam that we took from the Novotel, but that is only for caloric emergencies.


We were excited to get a smoothie from our new favourite place, but we were sad to discover that it was closed. Actually, almost everything was closed aside from a few small cafes. It appears that most places don't open until noon on Saturdays, which I found kind of strange. We ended up having a quick bite (espresso, tea, and two little donuts) which gave us enough energy to explore and find the perfect lunch spot. With no particular destination in mind, we wandered for an hour or so before stumbling across a very quaint little restaurant. pastaWhat I loved the most about it was that they had a handwritten menu with only a handful of items on it. They obviously took great pride in their food because everything was lovingly described. The two owners were so friendly and wanted to make sure that we understood everything that we ordered. Julia stuck with the traditional tagliatelle alla ragu, and I chose a pasta that I have never heard of before - strozzapreti. The lady explained that it is made without eggs and served in the traditional way with tomatoes, onions, and bacon. Julia's tagliatelle was also handmade, which was obvious by the look of the noodles - they weren't picture perfect. Both dishes were fantastic - what a difference in taste when an establishment puts such love and pride into their food. We left feeling very pleased with life, and we headed back towards our apartment while stopping in a few stores and markets along the way.

Amazingly enough, even after our leisurely morning we were pretty tired, so we stayed in the apartment for the rest of the afternoon resting, reading, and watching a movie. (We watched a really bad Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movie from 2004… There is a reason it gets 2/5 stars on Netflix!) It passed the time, and we had fun laughing at the ridiculousness of the plot line.

old buildingFor dinner we decided to walk in a direction that we hadn't gone before, but we only found small, smoky cafes that seemed more like a place to have a drink, not to eat dinner. We ended up back in the area we went the first night and were initially quite pleased with our restaurant choice. We ordered a caprese salad to share, and Julia ordered the traditional Bolognese lasagna while I got the canneloni. We were excited to try the lasagna as we have heard rave reviews about the uniqueness of it in this area. It is definitely different than anywhere else I have had it - it had 5 or 6 layers of very thin pasta that alternated ragu sauce with béchamel sauce. It looked and smelled delicious, but quite honestly it was mediocre. Julia nailed it when she figured out that it needed garlic, or pepper. It needed some punch, some spice, some flavour! It was very delicate, but we realized that we love the pungentcy of garlic and pepper in our dishes, and it seems to be missing in everything we have eaten here so far. Interesting - is that a coincidence, or is that just how they cook in this area? I will have to do some investigating.

Admittedly, we were a little nervous about encountering that locked wooden door again tonight, so after dinner we grabbed some gelato and headed towards home. We stopped in the (now open) smoothie place and bought two of their homemade popsicles for breakfast tomorrow. They sell their popsicles in individual plastic covers which make them perfect to take home. With tomorrow being Sunday, we assume that there will be even less options in the morning than there was today - so breakfast popsicles will be perfect! Julia got mango, and I got passion fruit. It took willpower for us to not eat them right away.

Tomorrow is our last day in Bologna, and we have plans to find a food market that we saw on TripAdvisor as well as go to a large park and have a picnic. This apartment has been really nice for us to spread out, do laundry, and get comfortable with our surroundings. Buonanotte!

PS - For anyone wondering, Chloe has been messaging daily from her ballet experience in London and is having a great time! Jeff is holding down the fort in Calgary and is leaving in a few days to fly to London. He will spend a couple days acclimatizing and will pick up Chloe before meeting up with Julia and I! That is still a week away, and although we look forward to our adventures in the next week, we are also looking forward to reuniting with our clan.  :)

Today was a gong show. An all-out, no holds barred, completely exhausting gong show. Not that absolutely everything went wrong today, but a lot of it did. Maybe it was just the end of it, but it's funny how your brain makes you remember certain things and forgets the other stuff. That's why recounting the day is important for me - I need to remember the good stuff!

It's weird, because I woke up this morning feeling a bit discombobulated. (My kids love that word.) I felt uneasy and I wasn't sure why; when I looked at Facebook and the news I felt sad. Sad, and mad, and wishing that my family was all together in one place. This is really unusual for us to be spread out on three different land masses (is Great Britain a land mass?), and I was missing our togetherness chaos. I knew that moping wouldn't do me any good, so I shook it off and looked forward to a new day of exploring.

Julia and I decided that a day trip to Florence would be fun - it's only a 34 minute train from Bologna and sounded perfect. We checked the weather and it said 27C and sunny - gorgeous! We planned our walking route from the apartment to the train station with a stop at our new favourite smoothie/juice bar for sustenance along the way. We arrived at the juice bar ready to confidently order our drinks (we had studied the menu and used google translate to make sure we knew what we wanted), and alas it didn't open for another 30 minutes! That was disappointing, but not devastating, so we headed on knowing we'd come across something good. We found a little café and had fresh pressed orange juice and a cappuccino (well, only I had the cappuccino!) and kept heading towards the train station. The streets here are windy and tiny (like most old cities in Europe), and it took us quite a while to get to the station. We went through a crazy busy market that I think we will try and check out tomorrow when we have more time.

florenceAt the train station we easily got tickets to Florence from a very helpful ticket agent. We made our way to the platform to discover the train would be delayed 20 minutes - no problem, we were full of energy and explored the station (they sell the most delicious popcorn!). We had to buy first class tickets for our short journey because otherwise the train was full, and we were happy to get snack and beverage service in that short 34 minutes. (They poured the smallest glass of wine into a tiny plastic cup - I swear it was 2 oz. Julia got a huge glass of peach iced tea.)

Once we arrived, we were surprised at how chilly it was - we had dressed for the expected weather and we were freezing! There were dark clouds, gusty wind, and the occasional sprinkle. Umm… what the heck weather.com? We were quite hungry by this point as we had only liquids for breakfast, so we followed our rule of never eating on the main drag and found a spot in a side alley. The ambiance was great, and the waiter was friendly. I ordered the tortellini soup because I read that it is a specialty of the area, plus I was cold and thought soup sounded perfect! Julia got her standard pizza margarita. I ordered a glass of the house red wine, and I was beyond happy to have a beautiful wine glass for the first time since being in Italy. I have had a short stubby glass, a thick stemless glass, and even a small tumbler the size of a shot glass. But today at lunch - perfection. I wanted to steal it in my purse, but that's not cool when you're an adult. So - things were looking great for our day! My soup was delicious, Julia's pizza was mediocre, and the bathrooms were clean. As far as lunch goes, we did okay.

The whole goal of today was to visit the Galileo museum. Jeff and I stumbled across this treasure on our honeymoon trip in 1997. AGES ago. We re-visited it about 5 years ago when we were last in Italy, and we loved it just as much. It seemed like a great destination for today, and I was hoping that Julia would enjoy it. It is NOT an easy place to find. Even with google maps and my little moving blue dot it took us quite a long time to find it - and that is with having been there before and having an idea of what I was looking for! By the time we found it we were very tired, slightly cold, and a teensy bit irritated. The saving grace was the free Wi-Fi in the museum (they want you to download their app), so we took some time to rest our feet and surf the net. We WhatsApp(ed) with Chloe a bit (she has been sending pictures of every meal she eats at her ballet intensive) and caught up with stuff back home. I was excited to see the museum - that place is nerd heaven for me. galileoUnfortunately, Julia did not feel the same. I now realize that she hasn't yet learned any of the physics or other science-y stuff that is displayed. Seriously, who doesn't love 400 year old barometers? Or crazy old globes from 300 years ago? I can look at these things for hours. The tools they used to map the world hundreds of years ago, crazy old telescopes, funny chemistry beakers and a zillion things drawn in every science textbook I've ever read? It's all there in that museum. If your heart skipped a beat a bit while reading this, you really have to go. Fellow nerds unite! If this sounds boring to you (as it did to Julia), skip it. So much history in that building, it's crazy.

So, the museum was a bust. Julia was bored, and even my excitement and explanations didn't do anything for her. Okay, she's 12 and not interested.  I get it. We decided to aim back towards the train station and stop for a snack along the way. I became very distracted by a purse (Florence is known for their leather), and I ended up buying something that I probably didn't need (but really, really wanted). I got the price down enough to where I was comfortable, and I ended up buying it. Hopefully I like it as much when I get home as I do right now!

cigar manWe had a snack in a place that we knew was a tourist trap, but we were willing to pay extra for the great location and interesting people watching. The picture on the left is a man who sat smoking a cigar and drinking an entire bottle of wine by himself. I got Julia to pretend to take a picture of me and then move the camera to get him. He was fascinating. I wonder who he is and what he does? He is certainly living a good life at the moment. Either that, or he is incredibly lonely and sad. I prefer to think of him as contemplative and introspective.

By this point in the day we were pretty tired and very cold. We were hoping to change our train tickets to an earlier time, and so we went optimistically to the station to do so. After seeing the size of the line, we decided to just wait the hour until our train departed by looking at a bunch of shops in the area. When we returned half an hour later we were dismayed to see that our train was delayed by 75 minutes. Yuck! We were already very tired, and so we got in line to see about changing our tickets. Unfortunately, all trains going to Bologna were delayed and there was no point. We wandered some more, and when we returned about 40 minutes later we saw that our train was now delayed 95 minutes! That is a huge delay for a train that only takes 34 minutes! Okay, I will admit - we were close to losing it by this point. If we were toddlers we would have been screaming and crying and kicking the ground. But, we aren't. Instead, we put on our brave faces and barely expressed our annoyance, even to each other. It was what it was. We killed another half an hour having a drink at the only café with chairs, but we had to limit our beverages as it cost 1€ every time we needed to pee! I really hate that system.

FINALLY we got on the train. It was comfy, and quick, and as we pulled into Bologna the cheery lady announced that we were 100 minutes late. As in, 1 hour and 40 minutes… that really added a lot of time to our day trip! We thought we weren't hungry, but as we got back to our apartment we realized that we were, and so we grabbed a mixed plate of (shawarma?) from a place around the corner. We were almost giddy opening the giant doors leading into our apartment building - we were almost home! As we walked in, we could see our apartment - the Wi-Fi connected because we both heard sounds from our phones. Then, to our dismay… there was a giant wooden, locked door that we had never before encountered. There was an extra key on our key chain, and it fit in the lock. I could wiggle it around and hear it doing something, but the door would not budge. NOT BUDGE. After ten (10!!) minutes of trying we were both about to cry. Seriously, we were so tired, hungry, and frustrated. I put my head against the door and begged the key to work. I actually begged it. I wiggled it around until it finally made a noise. I asked Julia to help me push it - and it popped open!! It was amazing. We were so relieved and I think we both almost started crying. I wasn't sure if we were going to be sitting outside of our apartment on 500 year old marble slabs all night. At least we would have had Wi-Fi! I have no idea why it didn't work before - I did nothing differently that time. It was the craziest end to a super long night.

We devoured our food (we were hungrier than we thought), and I had a long, hot soak in the bath. We are now tucked into our beds. It was an insane day! Julia said, "Florence did nothing but take our time, take our money, and give us sore feet". I'm sure it did more than that, and this will be a hilarious memory to recount years from now. For today though, we are glad it is over.

We are sticking close to home for the next two days - no more day trips for us! Good night from two girls with very tired feet.  :)


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