28 July 2014

Cavorting with the Companion

I suppose I have already dropped a few hints here and there in this blog that I have been to Italy and the United Kingdom earlier this year. Yeah, back in March, I went to Tuscany as well as London for a vacation that was altogether 17 days long. This was an unusual trip, in the sense that we had to combine the two locations in one trip for personal reasons, even though Italy and the UK aren't exactly close to each other. Hence I couldn't figure out what to call this trip. In the past, I meandered in Malta, I cavorted in the Caucasus, I cavorted in Catalonia, and I gallivanted in Guatemala. Since I couldn't think of a unifying concept for the destinations involved in this trip, I am doing a different tactic. This happens to be the first extended trip I took with my partner, so I am calling this one Cavorting with the Companion just because I can.

See, for personal reasons, we both wanted to go to San Marino. However, as some of you might know, San Marino isn't a large place. So we appended Tuscany with that. And then there's a wedding party we were invited to, which was happening in London. Hence, we had a triangular itinerary.

March 14 was the day we started. There was a Germanwings flight flying direct from Berlin to Bologna that day. We opted to fly to Bologna as it was the nearest city to San Marino with a big airport. We stayed in Bologna for three nights, staying in an AirBnb flat. We loved Bologna particularly for its very tasty food; it was so easy to just stroll around the city and find a trattoria that served amazing Bolognese cuisine.

The next day (March 15), we took the train from Bologna to Rimini, and then the bus from Rimini to San Marino. I therefore increased my country count, as while I have been to Italy before (the first time was in 2005, when my family visited Rome), this was the first time I have been to San Marino. It was an interesting little town perched on the top of the mountains. After spending the majority of the morning and afternoon in San Marino, we headed back to Rimini to explore the beach, and then took the train back to Bologna. We were in Bologna the next day too, exploring its museums and old city.

After three nights in Bologna, we took the train to head to Florence, where we opted to stay for 5 nights, again in an AirBnb flat. We like this mode of staying in private apartments, as the hosts tend to be very helpful and have useful tips on where to eat in the city. In fact, our host in Florence also gave us very good recommendations, which we followed. While in Florence, we explored both the city, as well as surrounding towns. We went to Fiesole, Pistoia, as well as San Gimignano. There was a transport strike for a day, but given that there were several options on where to go and what to do, that was not a problem at all. And yes, the food was divine. Being a foodie, my partner enjoyed the restaurant scene quite a bit, I should say.

The 5 nights in Florence went quickly, and we moved on. We took the train and crossed Tuscany, heading to Pisa, where we stayed 3 nights. I already knew that Pisa isn't a big city, and that there's a part of it that was overrated due to the leaning tower. So we also used Pisa to see other small towns nearby. We went to Lucca as well as Livorno, which are close towns easily reached from Pisa. And yes, we climbed the leaning tower.

While in Italy, I kept sampling Tuscan cuisine from various restaurants. I ordered Parmigiana di Melanzane over and over again, as well as Crostini Tuscane, as well as Trippa Fiorentina. I loved tasting the different micro-variations of these dishes across cities.

From Pisa, we took an Easyjet flight direct to London. There we would stay 5 nights. We didn't do much sight-seeing in London, as there was a family event going on. But we still managed to see some things, including the British Museum. Compared to Tuscany, good food was harder to find, but otherwise, it was an interesting place. I have mixed feelings about London, but I won't mind coming back and visiting again.

So, this is the next trip that I am covering here. Watch out for the albums of photos from Tuscany, San Marino, and the United Kingdom. And I apologize for the delay.

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