Pisa and Florence

pisaAs I entered Italy, the tour bus stopped first at Pisa and then went on to Florence. Pisa, of course, is known for its leaning tower. The tour guides don’t let you get close to it, because it could fall over at any moment. It’s strange as you stand there, feeling like the ground is maybe tilted because buildings aren’t normally slanted.

Florence is absolutely beautiful, with houses along the river that are peach, orange, and yellow. It truly looks exotic with a bridge arching three times across the river. A statue of Dante stands before the Santa Croce church, which is a cathedral. Michelangelo’s David sculpture is located at the Academie, and the Uffizi Museum includes many famous paintings by artists such as Florentino and Botticelli.Pisa-and-Florence

The problem with tour buses is that even though you get to see a lot of sights, they don’t give you enough time to enjoy them. We did Pisa and Florence all in one day, and spent the night in Rome. But I didn’t even tell you all that we did that day: Leaning Tower of Pisa, leather factory, Santa Croce church, other cathedral, Academie, pizza at the pizzeria (Italian pizza is not as good as American), outdoor market, famous old bridge, and Uffizi Museum.florence-2

Imagine doing all this in one day and spending the night in a different city. We did this breakneck speed for a full month. Imagine the blur that would be in your mind as you tried to remember the different cities, especially when you were sick most of the time due to the cold, wet conditions at the camp on most nights. I’m hugely grateful that I was able to see all these famous places for a dirt cheap price, but I don’t feel like I visited Europe properly. When I was in Germany I had a fever and felt like I was going to slam into the concrete. I just wanted to go home. In Venice I nearly blacked out because my cramps were so severe. In southern France, I put my sleeping bag in the bathroom/laundromat because I was so desperate to be slightly warmer. I felt like a homeless person. So I have mixed feelings as I write about my “Nightmare through Europe” tour. I’m telling you this so you don’t make the same mistake. The first night in Paris should have been a sign. I was so cold, I felt pain in my bones. To tflorence-3his day, whenever I get cold, my bones hurt. I also developed claustrophobia during that tour, which took me 20 years to overcome.

My aim in writing these travel blog entries is to give you a taste of each culture, so that as a homeschooling mother, you will enjoy teaching geography to your children. It occurs to me that discontent might enter the hearts of some of you who might have never visited these places. I’m telling you from someone who has done it: it’s better for you to look at a picture of Florence while sipping a cup of coffee at your house. At least you can take a deep breath and relax and not be rushed.

And you neveflorence-4r know. God is so sweet. You have no idea how perfectly God has planned your life, including all the painful experiences being turned into good. He might just give you a second chance some time in the future when your hair is gray and you suddenly have lots of money now that you’re ricketty and can’t enjoy it. But who says that’s true? My husband and I feel ricketty right now, and we’re barely 40. I know an older couple from my church who travels the world now that they have gray hair, and they have way more energy than my husband and I do. You never know what the future will hold. God knows what is in your heart. Love the people you’re with, and live in the moment. Yield to God and have contentment. That’s the secret to life.

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