day 7 (9/8)

today we jumped on a bus to the train station. i bought tickets and we rode a train for an hour to emerge in Pisa. jumped on a bus and 10 minutes later we were viewing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. wow! i took many photos, which are available here. we had lunch near the tower with a view of the tower and then it was time for us to go up. Paula’s dad, Paula, Ellie and i all climbed the tower — over 250 steps. JD and paula’s mom stayed down to take photos of us from the ground (JD wasn’t old enough). i shot much video of the kids around the tower and then of Ellie narrating things going up and on top. i’ll get that edited and posted soon as well. but let me tell you . . . being on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is breathtaking. it leans much more than you can believe when looking at it. and climbing stairs away from the lean turns really steep. it’s got the most beautiful views of Pisa and the Tuscan region beyond. wow!

we finished up and got back to the train station. just before our train was to leave, it was canceled. we finally got on one and made it back to Florence in time for dinner. it was a sidewalk cafe and i think most of us agreed that it was our second best meal of this trip. mmmmm. JD was the most hungry person in our group and his pizza took the longest to cook and came out very last. heh. the look on his face was priceless. after dinner, we hit up the vendors. Ellie and Paula bought scarves and a little purse for Ellie. i bought 2 ties (why, because i got 2 silk Italian ties for $8 total). i also grabbed a new hat. JD bought a famous Italian Futball player (soccer) jersey. i made JD talk the vendor down from $10 to $8 and it worked. we grabbed some gelato and called it a night. can’t wait to head to Cinque Terre for a week starting tomorrow. i think we all need some rest and relaxation on the beach.