Friday, July 6, 2012

2 days at the beach!

Wednesday we got up early for a 6:20 bus to the train station, then a 7:00 train to Pisa, transferring to a train to Forte de Marmi, arriving around 8:40.  Everything went smoothly, and we arrived and were walking out the doors of the station as Kate and the kids arrived to pick us up.  It is always good to see Kate and the grandchildren, and as we arrived at their rented house, we were told Shannon was making pancakes and her fiance, Ado, was arriving momentarily for breakfast and then much of the day with us.  The pancakes were great, and after a big breakfast, we were all off for the beach.  Viola wanted to ride in the bike seat with Emily, and as we left we heard a small crash as Emily and Viola went down in the bike.  Emily cushioned the blow and everything was fine.  Emily had a bruise or two, but kept the damage to a minimum through her efforts.  We switched bikes and Kate took both kids, and the whole gang - Kate, Viola, Vittorio, Shannon (the excellent babysitter), Ado, Ludo (cousin), Novella (cousin), Emily and I were off.

We had a great morning at the beach.  Both Viola and Vittorio are doing really great in the water.  In particular, Viola has made great strides and is no longer afraid of the water with waves.  She doesn't really want to go under water, but is really enjoying time in the water and "jumping" in the waves.  Vittorio is pretty fearless, and is mostly happy being dunked under the water.  We all played in the water, worked on multiple large sandcastles, and basically had fun.  We gathered the gang up for the return ride to the house around 12:30 and had a very nice lunch that Janet (Ludo and Novella's caretaker and cook) prepared for us all.  Vittorio went down for a nap and Viola went down for her "quiet time".  Kate invited us to stay the night, and as there are some family issues with the house, she rented us a hotel room at a place close by.  She wanted us to stay for a 4th of July party that had grown to around 15 adults and 15 kids.  So, after the kids went down, we organized for party preparations.  Kate took me by the hotel, where I chose a room, and got the key for the night.  We returned to the house and cut fruit, and basically got everything ready we could for the party ahead of time.  I had been given the task of picking up pizza on a bike, so Kate rode to the pizza place with me, so I would know where to go.

After a couple of hours, the kids were back up, and we returned to the beach.  We had another fun hour or two, then returned to the house.  I went back to the house and picked up my stuff and returned to the hotel for a shower, then went to pick up the pizza.  I went as quickly as possible and was only a little late, but they had to bake one of the pizzas anyway, so I had some time to wait.  I managed the 2 or 3 kilometer trip back to the house with the pizzas propped on the handle bars of the bike, through the very busy pedestrian and bike traffic in the town center, to the house with no real problems.  The party was underway, and Kate, Emily, Shannon, and Janet had finished all the remaining preparations.  It was a very fun party, which we topped of with sparklers for the kids that Emily had found in Firenze.  The kids loved the sparklers, and we enjoyed a wonderful forth of July.  After the party, Emily and I were going to ride back to the hotel when Kate said she had a couple of errands to run in town, so Emily and I accompanied her.  Well, the town was hopping at 11:30 pm.  I had thought maybe the stores would not be open, but everything was open and busy.  A different lifestyle and general timing here.

We enjoyed our excursion, then went to the hotel.  The room was a little rough around the edges, but really worked fine for us for a night.  At around 1:00 am we started hearing some disco music, which kept up until 4.  The next morning at breakfast we spoke with other guests (I should say Emily spoke, as my Italian is workable, but not very conversational), and apparently there is the biggest nightclub in the area across the street from the hotel, and every so often the noise is an issue.  Oh well, we slept through most of it anyway.

After breakfast we spent another morning at the beach with the kids, returned for another great lunch, then Vittorio went down for a nap and a package arrived for Viola.  With a suggestion from Emily, Kate had ordered a "strider" bike for Viola which we split the cost of.  Viola was super excited, and we did a very small amount of assembling, then she tried it.  It will take her a little time to figure it out, but she had fun and will keep at it.  She went for quiet time and wanted my company, so we both laid down together for a video.  I snuck out after 20 minutes or so and Kate took Emily and I back to the train station where we got the train for the return trip and arrived back at our apartment around 6.  A little relaxing, putting things away, and our 2 day adventure was complete.  Lots of fun, sun, and energy!

Emily and Vittorio playing by the walkway to the water.

Viola and Kate at the cabana, getting ready to go to the water.

Kate holding the new bike while Shannon helps Viola suit up appropriately for riding.

Emily and Kate checking out Kate's pictures from the party before we returned to Florence.

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