Sunday, August 13, 2017

A week with three kids!

Sunday morning we were up at 3:15 am and heading to Glasgow. Kate is such a star to be willing to drive us for a little over an hour, at that time of the morning. Millie was easy to rouse because it was her birthday. However, once we were on the plane she slept the entire journey. 

We arrived at Gatwick around 8:15 am. The driver who was to pick us up the previous night was going to be late because he had a drop off before he could collect us. So we got a treat at Costa coffee and waited for him. 

The drive back to St Leonard's was brutal, mainly because the kids had forgotten how to behave in a car with a total stranger. At one point I messaged Stuart who responded with a phone call to speak to each child. Whatever he said worked for a while, but when we were about 10 minutes from Grandma and Grandpa's they lost their minds yet again. The whole experience was exhausting. 

I unpacked while the preparations for birthday party continued. We all met Hope and started to acquaint ourselves with her. She was a bit stand offish at first, but vwarmed up to the kids very quickly. 

The birthday party was a big success. Millie's cousins; Bella, Sophia and Eliza, along with Daisy and Xinia, our friend Sam's daughters, were all there to help her celebrate. Grandma had many games planned and food for all of East Sussex. It was great and Millie loved every second of it. Once the party was over, we started the family BBQ. By the time everyone was gone, we were all ready for bed. 

We were up on Monday morning and off to Ashford to go to the outlet stores. Both Jack and Stuart needed to get clothes for the family wedding we would attend on Saturday. We had great success and even bought some other things the kids needed, such as school shoes. Jack's foot measured a size and a half larger than the shoes he wore on the last day of school, which was June 23rd. So either his foot has grown that much since the last day or he was wearing shoes WAY too small for him for quite some time. 

Once our shopping was finished we had lunch at Pizza Express. Stuart and I shared a gluten free pizza which was delightful. After lunch it was time to head back to Highwoods. Grandpa was there and ready for a trek in the woods. Once we were deep in the woods, wellies and all, we played ball in the school field and picked blackberries. We may have eaten every one we picked. It was a good time to have the kids out and have a run around. We went back to the house for dinner. Baths and bed followed shortly for all of us. 

Tuesday morning we were up and out by 9 am. We went to look for a bike for Hope's birthday. Since Stuart wouldn't be here in October he decided he would help her pick it out and get it now. Jack and Millie got fussy and then I reminded them that their dad is with them all the time and they needed to let Hope have this time with her dad. They seemed to understand a bit. The dynamics of the three kids started to show through on Tuesday. They took their place in the birth order. It was a bit strange. 

After the bike hunt we went to Eastbourne to collect Granny and have lunch. We stopped on the pier for a bit and played at the 2 pence machines. It was no different than going to any other fun zone and blowing a little bit of money, but the kids had a blast. We had lunch at a buffet called Cosmos. We sat right next to the buffet and now have determined we can never eat at a buffet again. It's appalling what people do to the food on a buffet. Ick!  We ended our time with Granny up at Burling Gap. It's always a nice place for a coffee. This particular time the kids were able to walk down to the beach for a bit. It was windy, as usual. 

Once we were home, the kids started in on crafts with Grandma.

 Stuart and I got ready to have an evening out with Nathan, Sam and Craig. We headed back to Eastbourne for dinner, drinks and old times. We had a fantastic night. We are all a bit older, but maybe still not terribly wise. It was a good night as we didn't get home until after midnight. 

On Wednesday we headed to Henfield for the day. Digby and Janie, friends of Grandma and Grandpa's, had a BBQ. Sadly it rained most of the day. But the food and company were good. Janie and Digby's granddaughters were there. Hope, Jack and Millie enjoyed playing with them. 

Thursday morning we went to shop for clothes for Hope and then to see the Emoji Movie. We had lunch, then came home for Hope to get a hair cut. We just chilled around the house and prepared for Hope to go home. This was more difficult than I thought it would be. Sibling dynamics were in full force. The kids had such a wonderful time together. Jack may have had the most difficult time understanding it all. Hope adored Millie and carried her everywhere. Jack, on the other hand, was being a boy through and through. Therefore Hope wasn't as fussed with him. He kept saying to me that he thought she didn't like him and all he wanted was for her to like him. He's a bit sensitive. She did like him, but it didn't look the way he thought it should. 

Friday morning we were all up early. Stuart, Hope and Jack headed to the west side of the country while the rest of us headed to Surrey for cousin Amie's wedding festivities. Stuart and Jack dropped Hope off at her house just after noon and then headed to Haslemere for Amie and Jon's wedding. Amie is Stuart's cousin. This wedding has been on the books for two years and it had finally arrived. 

We all arrived just before 4 pm. We had picked up Granny and met Stuart and Jack at the hotel. It was a lovely old farm estate that looked as if it had been recently renovated. We were in a family room, where there was a pull out sofa for the kids. Stuart went down to the dining room to have a cup of tea with his mum and grandma, while I stayed in our room and let the kids watch Netflix. 

We had dinner with Stuart's great aunties and the rest of Karen's family. It was a lovely meal and excellent conversation. The difficult part was sorting the bill at the end. The poor guy who was trying to separate our meals was flustered to say the least. He finally got it all squared around and we all retired for the evening. 

Saturday morning we all met for breakfast at 8 am. Stuart, the kids and I decided we would have a swim for about an hour. It was an indoor pool so the weather didn't matter much, but it was a lovely day.

 When we were heading to the pool we ran into Barry who let us know that Granny had taken a fall. She banged up her knee and hit her head. This hotel had way too many steps for the number of older people we had in our party, and the Steps were not marked very well. So unfortunately it was decided that Granny would go to the emergency room to get checked out. Stuart followed but she ended up not being seen. There would have been a two hour wait and Granny was having none of that, considering the wedding was due to start at 1 pm and when Stuart got to her it was 12 pm. 

We were to leave for the church at noon in order to get there with time to spare. As you can guess, everyone was terribly frazzled. I felt so bad for Audrey (Granny). She had a good sense of humour about it all, but I know she hated it that people were worried about her. 

We didn't leave at noon, and by the time we did leave Stuart had arrived back at the hotel with Granny. Karen stayed with them and helped Audrey get dressed. The ended up getting to the wedding at 1:07 pm. Stuart had to have driven like a bat out of hell. Soon after they were seated, the bride arrived and came down the aisle. It was a bit like a scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral. The wedding ceremony was beautiful. 

We all exited the church and threw rose petals at Amie and Jon as they came out of the church. They then entered their wedding car and headed to The Barn, the reception hall. The thing that I love about an English wedding is that it lasts all day long. We had Pimms and Proseco, and stood in the lawn area until 4 pm, when they served our first meal. It was a set dinner and was wonderful. The kids had little gifts at their seat. 

Vicki, Amie, Auntie Cheryl and Granny. 

Grandma and Grandpa. 

Once dinner was over our table was removed to make space for the dance floor. We danced until we could dance no more. Our hotel was about a 20 minute drive from the reception hall. Although taxis were booked to pick up many people from the family, Stuart ended up being the taxi service as the hired one never turned up. He made his last run at 1 am. Ugh!

It was a stupendous day, a perfect way to end an exciting week. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

One holiday ends and a new one begins!

Sunday morning we got up and it was raining. It gave us a chance to have a leisurely morning. Stuart made breakfast and some card games were played. 

Once the rain stopped we decided to go ahead with the plan of going to Murano and Burano, two small islands not too far away from Venice. Murano is the home of the Murano glass, and there we saw a glass blowing demonstration. Burano is the home of fine lace, of which we saw some beautiful examples. 

By the time we got to Burano it was almost 2 pm. We were all starving, and therefore sat at the first restaurant that appeared to have enough room for us. It turned out to be delicious food, thank goodness. Jack was the most adventurous eater on Sunday, having the fried seafood platter that consisted of fried fish (skin and all), prawns, calamari, and sardines.

After lunch we wanders around the shops looking for a top for my mom. We didn't ever fine one that suited her so we decided it wasn't meant to be. After a bit of shopping and a view into a basilica, we headed back to the taxi. The ride back was a bit brutal. It was long and hot, but we finally arrived back at the apartment just before 6 pm. 

The kids had wanted a Nutella calzone the first night we were in Venice, but our pizza guy had run out, so we decided to get one on Sunday before he sold out. The rest of us waited for food because we weren't hungry. The kids showered and ate their calzone, then played cards for a while before going to bed. We ate from the pizza place downstairs as well. Once everyone was fed and showered, and we had repacked our bags, which were overweight, we said goodnight to Sunday. 

We didn't have to leave the apartment for the train station until 10 am. As we finished sorting out our bags, we discovered we really were going to be overweight, and that only being allowed one hand luggage would be difficult. So Stuart went down to one of the shops and bought us a small rolling bag for hand luggage. Now, I'm not sure this did anything but add to our baggage. We stuck my backpack in the rolling bag and we re no further ahead than we were before he bought it. Maybe it will make sense to me at some stage. 

Once he was back from purchasing the bag, we left for the water bus to take us to the train station. Stuart and I have decided some of our travel plans could have been more efficient. We could have actually stayed one more night in Venice and flown back from there to London, or even straight to Edinburgh, as that will be our destination on Wednesday. But we didn't do that, so we will live with what we did plan. We could have avoided the train journey of 4 hours had we planned differently. We ate, read, played games, and slept on the journey, which wasn't terribly exciting, but was necessary. 

Once we arrived back in Rome we got two taxis to take us to our final apartment of this trip. We settled in and played some cards. We then headed for a nice, last meal of our Italy trip. We walked down to the Vatican and then doubled back to a side street where our host had told us were nice places to eat. We found a fantastic place where the food was delightful, the waiter was funny and there was even a little musical entertainment. 

Once we were back at the apartment the cards came out again. When the kids finally went to bed, we had a last game of pitch. Sadly my dad and I lost and had to declare my mom and Stuart the champions until next summer when we are sure to thrash them once again. 

We were up and out of the apartment at 9 am and an Uber took us to the airport. We were there a bit early, but got to say goodbye to Grammie and Pop, which was sad as you would guess. Millie loves her Pop and she just wept. I felt so sorry for her. We were all sad. The most fitting quote for this mid from A.A. Milne. It says, 'How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?' These words were so true this particular morning. 

Our EasyJet flight was delayed back to London. By the time we got back to Gatwick and checked into the Premier Inn it was almost time for dinner. We showered the kids so that after we ate Stuart could twilight drop our bags, making it easier for us to go through security the following morning.

We got up at 5 am and got to the airport by 6 am. Our flight, again, was delayed. EasyJet is not impressing me at all. We got to Scotland around 10 am. Kate was at the airport to greet us. It was so wonderful to see her. We went to Kate's apartment and got settled in. 

Shortly after arriving we took a walk to the castle. It started to rain, but Kate had equipped us with rain gear so we continued exploring the city. Millie loved the rain and had asked for it when we first arrived. We had a pub lunch and Jack ate a Haggis burger, which he loved. Haggis is made of all the gross parts of a sheep, but it is quite tasty. 

We popped in to the Museum of Scotland. It was free and got us out of the rain. It was fantastic. Jack said it was his favourite museum ever. We decided we would need to go back Thursday morning since we arrived at 4:15 pm and it closed at 5 pm. 

This time of year is when the Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe take over the city. There are well over 400 venues of all different types of artists. We decided to go to the Fringe and see an acapella  group called All the King's Men. They were phenomenal. It was an hour of entertainment that we all enjoyed. 

We walked back to Kate's flat after the show. We stopped at the supermarket to get some food. Once we were at the flat the kids showered. We then had a hodge podge of food. The kids went to bed just after 9 pm and we were close behind. 

Thursday we were out of the house around 9:30 am, and were back at the Museum of Scotland. We stayed for a couple of hours. Once again we had a great pub lunch of haggis skewers. 

We went to the park and let the kids play for a while. We had denied them the Bungee jumping trampolines on Wednesday, so this afternoon we let them jump. We sat and drank coffee and wine. We came back to the house for the kids to shower and eat dinner. Then we decided an early night was in order. Seems almost three weeks of no routine while traveling is not the best thing in the world for a 5 and 8 year old. 

Once they were in bed, Kate and I headed to her favourite pub for some time together. It was good to chat and catch up without the interruption of kids. We were gone a little longer than intended. When we returned Stuart was watching television. It might have been the first television I had watched in over two weeks. After an episode of Family Guy, we all retired. 

We decided to attend a show at the Fringe on Friday at around 12:30 pm. It was a panto called Robin Hood. But before that we took the kids to the park. Kate knows where all the great parks are. It rained off and on most of the day, but it didn't slow us down. The panto was funny and a classic presentation of a classic tale in the UK. 

We found a place for lunch as we were walking. Jack had a breakfast pizza and I had meatballs. It was the first place we had eaten this holiday that the portion size was actually good for me. After lunch, we headed back to the park to let the kids play some more. It was misting, but nothing too bad. 

We then decided to walk down Princess Street and see some of the festival street performers. We stopped and watched an acrobat who had a bit of comedy intwined in his act. After we meandered through the city and then to the new part of Edinburgh. We decided to stop for a coffee. We were then going to go to Kate's favourite pub for dinner, but decided against it as it was super crowded, being a Friday evening. We decided instead to head back to her flat, eat pasta, shower the kids, put them to bed, and then we watched an Edinburgh film. 

Stuart was up and gone by 5:15 am on Saturday morning. He was heading to Birmingham to pick up his daughter, Hope, as she was going to spend the week with us in Hastings. This would be the first time I would meet her. Grandma reported that Hope was very excited for the week ahead, which was great. Jack and Millie were excited as well. 

Once Stuart was gone, I checked my phone and got some horrible news. My best friend throughout high school, Cathy, lost her mom Thursday evening. Fortunately I was able to call Cathy. We cried and cried and cried. Apparently she had a heart attack while out with friends.

Going back to sleep for me wasn't possible. Once the kids and Kate were awake we had breakfast and lazed around a bit. We played Bounce-Off, a game Kate had purchased for the kids to play. They loved it. We did the Walk of Leith with the kids and ended up at yet another park. Kate really did go out of her way to make sure the kids enjoyed their time in Scotland. After they played for about and hour, and it misted for a bit, we walked to the botanical gardens where we saw another Fringe show. This one was a little 'young' for the kids, but I think they secretly enjoyed it anyway. They certainly didn't comment otherwise. 

We stopped for lunch before heading back to the flat so the kids could shower and we could head to the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:40 pm. We headed to the airport around 6 pm. Just before we got there I got a call from Stuart saying our flight had been canceled. Now I hate EasyJet. 

In the end Stuart rebooked us a flight leaving from the Glasgow airport, about an hours drive from Edinburgh, leaving Sunday morning at 6:45 am, meaning we would have to leave Kate's at 3:45 am. Super! Fortunately, she is that good of a friend. So back to Kate's we went for grilled cheese sandwiches, toast with butter and jam, and half of a good night's sleep. 

After the kids were in bed, Kate went out and took the opportunity to try the Mexican restaurant we had seen that advertised 'burritos as big as your head'. Well, they weren't lying. We could have shared one, but we didn't. We watched some of the London World Championship races and then went to bed. It had been a long day for sure. Stuart was back at his mum's and would just have to wait to see us the following day. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Florence to Venice!

Sunday morning we were up, cleaned up the apartment and headed to the train station for Florence. The train journey was about 3 hours long. We all snoozed, had snacks and entertained ourselves with colouring or games. 

The view from our balcony in the apartment. 

Once we arrived in Florence, our only option was to get a taxi to the apartment. It was about a 25 minute walk from the main action of the city, but we would figure out a way to deal with it. 

We were greeted by the owner but we didn't know it. When the hostess opened the house a young boy was sitting on the sofa. When the confusion had settled, we discovered that the young boy was waiting for his father who was taking pictures of the apartment. The main we met was the owner of the apartment. He was so friendly. Stuart asked him questions about getting into town and where we could get some milk. In the end, the owner took my mom and me to the grocery store. It was about to close, so his son came in with us and helped us get the food we needed. He was such a good kid. This was a service above the call of duty for sure. 

Once Mom and I were back at the apartment, we decided to play games and get settled in. Around 5 pm we decided to walk down to the town center. It was a long walk, but we weren't sure how to use the bus system that first day. 

We had dinner after seeing the outside of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the main Duomo. We decided on a cafe in a square that had a carousel. Of course that meant that the kids would have to ride the carousel after dinner. They loved it. 

We walked back to the apartment, showered the kids, and put them to bed. The adults played Pitch. My dad and I are always on the same team, mainly because we are sore winners, but also because we would rather not fight with our spouses. I do believe we won. 

On Monday morning, we all commented about how great we slept. The beds were memory foam beds. This was by far the best place we had stayed. We didn't get up until 8:30. We had washed laundry and so had to hang it out. We had a coffee and then I went down to buy bus tickets. When I came back we walked down to the bus stop and got on. 

A latte was first thing of business for the day. 

We got off at Plaza San Marco and walked back to the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. We stood in line to go inside. As we were entering I was forced to buy a cheap scarf because I had worn a sleeveless top. So now Millie is the proud owner of a scarf with symbols from Pisa on it. The cathedral wasn't as spectacular as I remembered. Sometimes the larger the cathedral, the less beautiful and ornate it is. 

We walked down to the Ponte Vecchio, a gold and silver shopping experience placed on this famous bridge. We hopped on the site seeing bus and rode the red line the entire way around. Once we were off the site seeing bus we went to have lunch at Hard Rock Cafe, as you do when you are in Italy. Jack bought a t-shirt that I convinced him was a better idea than the panda stuffed toy he wanted. The panda did have a Hard Rock Florence shirt on, but really wasn't the best choice. 

Then we went on a journey to find the hand bag alley we had gone through on Sunday. Oh Lord, what a mess that was. We did finally find the street, but then didn't like the bag we wanted as much as we thought we originally did. My mom ended up buying a different bag, and I ended up with nothing! My dad bought a new wallet at this same store. 

Millie and Stuart also got a bag after some bargaining. Stuart also bought a mob hat. I did buy a dress, as did my mom. We bought the same dress but in different colours. It was a successful day! Hello, Italy shopping!

We settled on coming back to the apartment and just having a hodgepodge of food. We ate a relatively late lunch so a big dinner wasn't necessary. Of course we played a couple of rounds of Uno, and then the kids were off to bed. We decided to give pitch a miss on Monday night. We had to be up early for our visit to the David at the Accademia. 

I hit my snooze button twice on Tuesday morning. Once I did finally roll out of bed I only had about 35 minutes to get the kids out of bed, dressed, hair brushed, breakfast, teeth brushed, shoes and out the door. I managed, thank goodness. 

We had a booked time to go into the Accademia Gallery to view the original David. He is quite spectacular. The gallery was built specifically to house Michael Angelo's, David. We walked around for a bit and then headed out to the streets again. 

We got on the big bus and then rode the blue line all the way around. The blue route was a longer route that took us to the top of the other side of the city before taking us to the place where we could get a good view of the city from the top, and a view of the bronze David replica. It did rain for part of our trip, and wouldn't you know that the roll top was broken on our bus. We withstood the rain and it eventually passed. 

Once we got off the bus we went to find Santa Croce, another spectacular cathedral. We didn't go inside, but did get pictures out front. I'm sure no matter how many times I visit Italy, I will always discover new piazzas and basilicas, all beautiful in their own right. 

We had a bite to eat and it started raining again. We ducked in and out of stores until I finally decided to see if we could go into the Uffizzi Gallery earlier than our booked time, which was 6 pm. We were able to go in just after 4 pm, and walked through the gallery as if we knew anything about art. 
This was another time that 'count the wieners' came in handy. It had stopped raining by the time we exited the Uffizzi. We walked to Piazza San Marco where we caught the city bus and rode it back to the apartment. Stuart and I got off a few stops before the rest of the family to buy something for dinner. 

We purchased ingredients for burgers and chips, a very American meal. It was delicious. The kids were bathed, had played their rousing games of UNO while we were at the supermarket, so then went to bed. As you would guess, bedtime has been a bit difficult. They don't want the fun to end. 

Wednesday Stuart got up to go get the rental car. We headed out for our day of adventure around 9:30 am. 

We started our fun in Lucca, a fortified city where you can ride bikes up on the city walls, essentially. We had a coffee, used the toilets and then rented bikes for an hour. This was probably the highlight of the trip for the kids. Millie couldn't settle on a bike, and quite frankly just irritated me until she finally agreed to riding on a tandem bike with Stuart. It was a lot of fun for sure.

Grammie and Pop rented a surrey and had Millie on the front part of the time. When we finished in Lucca we headed to Pisa. 

Pisa was as touristy as you can get. We took the typical pictures of Jack and Millie holding up the tower. We walked around the basilica and took a bunch of pictures. It was a must see, but super typical of a tourist trap. 

Our last adventure of the day was to attempt to see Cinque Terra, a string of 5 villages on the coast. We ended up only visiting one of the villages because the idea of this area is that it's difficult to get to, hoping to minimise the tourists. We visited Manarola. It was quant, but we were only allowed to meter park for one hour at a time. The hill we climbed down and up to get to the car park was not putting in more money. It was steep and exhausting. 

We tried to hit a beach city so the kids could swim, but when we arrived in the city of Viareggio, we discovered that we parked at the private beach end of the city.

So, we opted for dinner instead. Pizza and mussels were on the menu, and Millie even ate some mussels. We arrived home at 10:30 pm and the kids went straight to bed, only getting a scrub of their feet, which you all know absolutely killed me. 

I got up to find some eggs on Thursday morning. When I got the the bottom of the hill, I discovered there were no eggs at the little shop, so I messaged Stuart to come and get me in the car so we could go to the Coop. When we got home we all had ham and eggs. 

We left the house around 11 am so we could try to hit a winery and visit some of the Tuscany hill towns. 

Siena was our first stop. We loved it so much, we stayed most of the day, leaving around 4 pm after a delightful meal, some shopping, gelato and a cafe latte. 

The winery didn't happen, but instead we hit another little small village on the way back to Florence. It was a fortified village by the name of Monteriggioni. It was fantastic! This might have been my favourite day so far. However, we still had 4 days left. 

Friday morning Stuart and I got up and returned the car. 

We walked back to the bus stop, stopping first for a latte of course, and then sneaking into a church we had seen but didn't ever go in. 

It was gorgeous and I really hated that my mom missed it. 

We caught the bus and arrived about a half hour before we had to get the bus to the train station. This particular route seemed longer than normal. Once we had the bags out by the bus stop, we anticipated a quiet ride. Unfortunately we were wrong and the bus was crammed. Fortunately, I met someone on the bus who told us where to go to catch the train once we had gotten off the bus. 

We waited for the platform to be announced for our train. In the meantime a coffee was needed. The kids ate some of the snacks we had until finally we were able to get on our train. We rode for 2 hours to Venice and when we disembarked, the site was gorgeous. I had been to Venice twice, and it still amazes me how they maintain this little island. 

We decided to buy a water bus card for the time we were on the island. It was a bit pricey, but for the amount of times we would use it we decided it was a better value than single tickets. We took the water bus to the area close to the apartment. We made our way to the apartment. Might I add, I am pretty sure before Google Maps arrived in my life I spent many a days lost in a place like Venice. We were greeted by Micheala, who gave us the information about the apartment and some details about the city. 

We went to a little grocery store to buy some provisions. We also stopped at a fruit and veg boat and bought some fruit and veg for our stay. 

Basilica San Marco

Doge's Palace

We then decided to take the water taxi to St Mark's Square and check out the beauty. 

We had the most expensive glass of wine and latte of the entire trip, the kids chased the pigeons (which later we discovered is a big no-no), and we went to see the Doge's Palace, a palace previously used by the government of Venice. It was delightful!

We then came back to the apartment, stopping at the pizza place below our 'home' for pizza and kebabs. Of course we ordered to much, but we did our best to eat every morsel. After dinner, it was showers, cards and then a good night's sleep. 

Dinner at the apartment. 

Saturday morning saw us at the San Marco Basilica in Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). We were not allowed to take photos, but simply walk through the basilica. It was spectacular, but I suppose to believe me, you will have to come and see it. 

After the basilica we were going to go to the glass factory on Murano island, and then the lace factory in Burano, but in the end we decided to save that for Sunday, and instead spend our day walking around shops and purchasing some more treasures. I bought two dresses and a gorgeous bag. 

Jack got a man bag just like Stuart's but smaller, and my mom bought a dress and another handbag. The day was good but a little hotter than the previous day. We ended up looking at the kiosks along the Grand Canal and my mom bought some art from a local artist. 

We then took a trip up the Bell Tower and viewed the city from a bird's eye view, as you would in New York or Paris, but not nearly as high up. 

St Mark's Square from the top of the Bell Tower. 

It was a wonderful experience, but when we were finished, everyone was ready to head back to the apartment for a bit of rest and relaxation. We stayed at the apartment until just after 6 pm, then decided to head out for a meal. 

We started with a gondola ride, which was wonderful. 

Ah, the love birds!

This was a street performer Jack had to give money to. He's always loved the idea of playing crystal glasses. It's a bit odd, I think, but he loves it. 

We wanted to stay out until dark, but not everyone was keen. So once we had dinner, we went back to the apartment, showered the kids, put them in bed and then my mom and I headed back out into the streets to view the city at night. 

While we were gone there was a power cut at the apartment. Apparently this caused Millie to go a little nuts and when we returned, a little over an hour after we left, she and Jack were still awake. Lovely! They finally did settle down and go to sleep. Then the rest of us followed. 

What a fantastic holiday we have had. Just a few more days and then we will sadly have to bid Grammie and Pop a farewell. This trip has been unforgettable.