Berlin, Vienna, and Florence

Our grand Italian adventure began at 4:45am on Saturday, August 10th. We woke up and quickly got ready to go. At 5:15am our neighbor, Tim, came to pick us up (yeah, he’s pretty much amazing for getting up that early on a Saturday to take us to the airport!).

starbucksNaturally our first stop after going through airport security was to stop at Starbucks for breakfast. πŸ™‚

writing vowsDuring our long layover in Chicago we worked our on vows (I’ll share those when I update about our vow renewal in Rome later).

airberlinOur plane from Chicago to Berlin. As Christopher said when he saw it, “Our chariot has arrived!”

skyOne of my favorite things about flying is the view. So beautiful. In the words of Downhere, “Thank You God for the open sky, the mysterious depths of her ocean eyes. Thank You for my dreams, a poetry both tragic and beautiful. Thank You for life!” {Downhere “For Life”}.

BerlinUs in Berlin! We were really only here for 2 hours, BUT we went outside the airportΒ andΒ got a stamp in our passports so we totally count it as having been to Berlin. πŸ˜› Also, it was in Berlin that we got stuck in an elevator with a group of travelers. It was probably only 4 or 5 minutes, but it felt like ages. Thankfully everyone remained calm and we all got out safely. πŸ™‚

vienna2The hills are alive with the sound of muuuuusic! Us in Vienna, Austria! Another quick 2 hour layover, but again we went outside the airport so it would “count” as having “been there.” πŸ˜‰

bagOur carry on bag was too big to go in the overhead compartment in the tiny plane we flew from Vienna to Florence in, so they just had us put it in a seat nearby. I buckled it in for safety. πŸ˜› And I know that bag looks huge, but it really did fit the official guidelines for carry ons. I even doubled checked it when we got to the airport by putting it in those little your-bag-must-fit sizers. πŸ™‚ It’s a good thing we were able to bring it as a carry on because it was somewhere between Berlin and Florence that our checked bag went to Frankfurt instead of Florence with us. So for the next two weeks Christopher and I lived out of this one bag!

florenceWe arrived at the Florence airport and after filing a missing bag report for our checked bag we hopped on the Volainbus to go into town! Except that the first bus driver ran out of tickets so everyone had to get off the bus and wait half an hour for the next one… so THEN we went into town! Haha! We attempted to stop by the TI (Tourist Information) to get bus schedules and a map, but they were closed by the time we arrived. So we decided to just go ahead and explore. We began our 30 minute walk toΒ San Miniato Al Monte which turned into an hour and a half walk because we got so turned around, ha! We were a hot, sweaty mess by the time we arrived at the church.

san miniato al monteI can’t even begin to tell you how many stairs there were to climb up to San Miniato Al Monte. And Christopher had our huge backpack on his back! My knees were burning by the time we made it to the top. But we were so glad we went. We arrived just in time to hear the Gregorian chant in Latin for their 5pm mass. It was beautiful. Really put things in perspective for us as we sat on top of that mountain. As a side note, this church was built on the remains of St. Minias who was beheaded for being a Christian after which he picked up his head and walked up to this spot and sat down and died (at least according to legend).

overlooking florenceAs we walked out of San Miniato Al Monte, we were met with a gorgeous view of Florence. The whole time we were climbing up to the church, we were so focused on going “up” that we never stopped to look behind us. So we had no idea that we would see all of this when we walked out. It was gorgeous.

piazzale michelangeloWe walked a few minutes over to theΒ Piazzale Michelangelo which also had good views of Florence (though the view from San Miniato was actually better since it is higher up). It was also really crowded with people trying to take photos which made us glad we’d gotten shots of us together up at San Miniato.

sky from piazzale michelangeloThe sky was gorgeous that day. Staring at this sky, we forgot our aching bodies and just took in the beauty around us.

la mangiatoiaDinner was at Trattoria La Mangiatoia. I had spaghetti with ragu and Christopher had 4 cheese pizza with salami. Both were really pretty good. Definitely more than satisfactory for these weary, hungry travelers. πŸ™‚

Β After dinner we headed out to Scandicci (a town outside Florence) to stay at a small school that we had heard about from our alumni. It was only $60/night which really attracted us to it, but unfortunately the school was undergoing renovations so they had completely forgotten we were coming. They were really gracious about it once they checked the calendar and saw we were on it, but it was a very late night before we finally made it to bed. All in all, it was a long, hot, tiring day, BUT it was also awesome. πŸ™‚ Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on more Florence!
Love Rach


39 responses to “Berlin, Vienna, and Florence

  1. I would have went outside of the airport too! You never know if you will be back or not. Looks like a great trip so far can’t wait to see more!

  2. AHHH!! These photos are amazing!! So far this sounds like such a blast! That $60 price tag for a place to sleep would appeal to me too, bummer they forgot though!! You both sound SO lax about the small hiccups that came your way (lost bag, waiting for the bus, hotel forgetting you) you are truly filled with peace and it’s inspiring!! That’s the way to travel!

  3. I can’t believe you were so relaxed about losing your luggage, I’m so impressed!! Not sure I could have handled so well πŸ˜‰ I guess though headed to such a fabulous destination, luggage was the last thing on the mind. The pics are great and that pizza, oh realllll pizza, I bet it was so good!

    • Yeah, that’s kind of how we felt about it. Plus, I knew if I dwelt on it too long then I’d get super upset and it’s not like we could magically make our luggage appear by being upset, haha! But wait until you hear what happened the next night (update coming as soon as I finish responding to emails)! I just had to laugh because otherwise I would’ve cried. πŸ˜›

  4. This quote is perfect for life in general – “The whole time we were climbing up to the church, we were so focused on going β€œup” that we never stopped to look behind us.” We go through life like that – but this is a wonderful reminder to look behind us for beauty too.

    Speaking of beauty, all of your pictures are GORGEOUS! I am so inspired! Also inspired by your positive approach to all the stuff that went “wrong”, like the bag. You, my friend, are inspiring!

    Oh and I’m starving so that food looks sooooooo good.

    • Yeah, we really tried to apply that mindset to the rest of our trip. To not get caught up in getting from point A to point B, but to also enjoy the little things along the way. Especially when those little things included gelato stops. πŸ˜‰

  5. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!! Props for staying calm with the missing bag! And I think you 100% earned that pasta and pizza after your long walks that day πŸ™‚

    • T urns out we walked between 8 and 10 miles a DAY on this trip! Except for one day when we hung out on a beach all day (only 3 miles that day). So yeah, we definitely didn’t feel one iota bad about what all we ate. πŸ˜‰

  6. your luggage got lost? OMG! I would get all crazy if that happened to me on vacation! Absolutely wonderful pictures of Florence! The one of the sky looks almost divine! canΒ΄t wait to see more pictures and read more about your amazing trip:-)

    • That one of the sky surprised me too! It was gorgeous in person, but you know how often something is amazing in real life, but you just can’t seem to capture it on film… well for once I managed to capture it! So beautiful!

  7. holy cow! gorgeous pictures…and that food…WOWZA! looks delicious!

  8. It already sounds like such an amazing trip!!!!!!!!! Love your pictures and I’m drooling over the food!

  9. Wow, gorgeous photos! I can’t wait to read more about those vows!!

  10. Oh what a wonderful trip! It’s one I hope to make someday… I can’t wait to see more.

  11. This trip already looks amazing!! I can’t wait to see the rest!

  12. I can’t believe how many setbacks you guys had on DAY ONE! But I’m glad you guys were able to get past it and enjoy yourselves anyways. I would have been a little grumpy…

  13. Beautiful pictures! I cannot wait to read more! πŸ™‚

  14. Rach! The pictures are breathtaking! I love hearing about this adventure!

  15. Wow…they took two weeks to get you your checked luggage? In the US it usually only takes a day or two! It just goes to show that we can live on less than we think we can!

    • We really can live on less than we think! We had packed so lightly in the first place (not like when we’re road tripping and I bring three clothing options for every day, haha) so when we only had half our stuff, it was amazing how much it didn’t matter. I mean, we had to go buy new toiletries and a second pair of shorts for Christopher and bathing suits, but other than that we got by with doing laundry a couple of times. πŸ™‚

  16. Yahooo! I have been waiting to hear all about your trip!

    I love the picture of the buildings! And all of the ones of you and Christopher πŸ™‚

  17. Sounds great!!! and you have captured the skies beautifully!! Both the one from air and the one from ground!!! Inspiring skies!! ❀

  18. oh my gosh, this is just…BEAUTIFUL!!!! those houses? the skies? the valleys and mountains …love it!

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