I finally came to the end of my journey, feeling both sad and glad, my heart heavy with leaving and light with anticipation of seeing my loved ones again. I took this photo while I was sitting outside the Santa Maria Novella train station waiting for the TerraVision bus to Pisa airport...sighing sighs of longing to have more time here, and thinking, my gosh even the scenery by the train station is gorgeous in Florence!
As I waited, I was humming to myself a Paul Simon song that one of the street musicians had sung frequently in Piazza Signoria...
I'm sitting in the railway station. Got a ticket for my destination.... Homeward bound, I wish I was, Homeward bound, Home where my thought's escaping, Home where my music's playing, Home where my love lies waiting Silently for me.
And the longing in the song did indeed strengthen my own longing to return to my home.
Had an uneventful EasyJet flight from Pisa to London, relaxed in the Yotel overnight, another smooth ride with Air Transat from London home to Halifax. As we flew over Newfoundland, I was surprised to look out the window and see that we were being "passed" by another transatlantic flight - too funny!
I made it through Customs, and collected my bag before Dave and MVH arrived to pick me up, but only had a short wait before piling into the arms of a beaming M, who hugged and hugged me and didn't let go (not that I wanted to!) Then hugs from Dave and home we went. It was incredibly wonderful to see them, and be home again...although already I intensely miss Italy. But the sight of M's face lighting up when she spied me in the airport filled my heart with infinite joy!! I unpacked and gave M her souvenirs. She wore her silkscreen shirt to school Wednesay, it is black and purple, with Botticelli's Venus on it, and looks smashing on her. She also liked her leather bracelets, and couple necklaces that I got her...and the chocolate. All Dave got was me...poor deprived guy. (Well he's not especially taken with Italy anyway so nothing called his name as a memento, he was just happy to have me home.)
It was just so good to be home with my dear ones again!!! Word of advice though: never go shopping the same day as returning home on a transatlantic flight! The exhaustion and jetlag will lead you to spend more than you normally would just to get the shopping over with and go home! :) The upside for M is that she got a heck of a gorgeous wool blend fall/winter coat! And some nice boots. The coat looks way too good on her, and she adores it...she developed some new curves while I was away...eeek, how do I slow this growing up of hers!
Argh, I had to work the very next day after I got back - blech!! Although both of my scheduled meetings were postponed until next week, so I actually had a pretty easy first day...all I really did was slog through the 130 or so emails (which wasn't bad at all considering how long I was gone...thanks to Tricia, who monitored my inbox while I was gone and took care of anything really urgent...I love Tricia!) But being in the city Wed was good because it meant that I was able to have lunch with my sister, Lynn. We were excited to see each other again!! We had an exuberant reunion, and did a lot of laughing and talking over lunch. And also saw each other again that evening when took our girls to choir practice. I had also been looking forward to seeing Valerie and K at choir practice, but they weren't able to make it, so I pouted ('cause yup, I'm childish like that) until we made plans to visit the following evening.
I had lunch with Sara yesterday and it was so, SO wonderful to see her again!! She is doing great, seems to be getting along so well at university. She has a new boyfriend (when I left she had a crush on a girl in her building...go figure. Ah, it's good to be flexible!) She walked down to meet me after class and we went to Pizzeria aMano, where we shared an antipasti of crostini with roasted pears, gorgonzola and honey, pollo pizza (balsamic roasted tomato, chicken, goats cheese, cilantro and tomato sauce), and gelato for dessert (Sara had nocciola and pistaccio, I had mango and cassis). Really tasty, and again, lots of laughter and conversation.
Last evening I had a lovely visit with Valerie, just sitting and talking and looking through my photos. I start to sound like a broken record with my reunions, but it was good to see my friend again. And to see her daughter, who is dear to me also. K stayed the night because she and M both had no school today due to a Provincial In-service (aka teacher professional development day.)
I have not yet seen my mommy :) or my friends Kelly and Jane, but will see them soon. In fact, I will see Mom after church on Sunday, and I must remember to bring my laptop and show her (and Lynn) my photos. And I have talked with mom on the phone already, so she's heard a brief and glowing report of my trip.
Speaking of photos, here is a very small sampler with more to follow as I regain my energy and find time to sort through the rather large quantity!
The golden (and nearly deserted) streets of Florence on my first evening:
My thrilling find at the Ospedale degli Innocenti museum, Ghirlandaio's Adorazione dei Magi:
The ever picturesque Ponte Vecchio by day:
Big giant head in Boboli Gardens (where I lay in the grass, in the sun):
Sublime pink and blue layers over the Duomo at dusk:
A gorgeous building in Venice:
The glories of the food market:
Gondoliers - of course!! (Alas, we didn't find Roberto of youtube's "O-baaama" fame):
Having fun with the lions in Venice:
Detail from a lovely Annuciation in Santa Trinita, love the rainbow wings:
The photo you've all been waiting for...the Fiesole Cimitero toilette sign:
Fiesole is stunning and full of gorgeous colour:
The ever picturesque Ponte Vecchio by night:
This was taken from midspan of the Ponte Vecchio, gazing upon Ponte Santa Trinita and Ponte alla Carraia just beyond, and reflecting on my amazing and rejuvenating solo journey, and counting my blessings, just before I headed to the station to leave for home: