Friday, March 1, 2019

Florence and Pisa

Main cathedral of Florence.Our next stop in Italy was Florence. Since our Milan hotel was so close to the train station, we did not need to take a taxi or bus to get there. We just walked and then waited for a while inside the station to see which platform our bullet train will depart from.

Train to Florence.The ride itself was not especially eventful. We were all pretty impressed to see that our train was going over 300 km/hour at some points. We played a guessing game using complimentary magazines laying around, the children felt and behaved well.

From from our hotel. Duomo is on the left.Our hotel in Florence was unfortunately quite far from the center. However, we got a spacious room on the top floor, free breakfast, access to the executive lounge and this hotel had a mega whirlpool. The whirlpool was pretty much the size of a regular pool, it had nice little areas where you can lie down and get your whole body massaged by water, plus it had a traditional jacuzzi area and a waterfall. I’ve never seen pools like this one, and the water was so warm that we could stay there without much motion for two hours and not get cold.

Massive hot tub.Plus, there were very few people in the pool, so oftentimes we were the only ones there. Kids LOVED it, although I think swimming had a mild negative effect on Anna’s ears. She just finished drinking antibiotics for acute ear infection which she developed as a complication of a viral infection, and her ears started bothering her again. Luckily, garlic ear drops helped to keep the pain at bay and to heal faster.

Our women.In order to get to the center of the city, we had to take Hilton’s complimentary shuttle and then a tram. The shuttle was going once every half our or so and there were longer breaks, so it was a little annoying at times, but still the benefits of Hilton for us outweigh the sub-optimal location.

View from the top of cathedral tower.When we got to the center of Florence, we walked around, enjoying the beauty and special historic flavor of its narrow streets and old dwellings. We admired Duomo for a while.

Anna and hers and mine Florentine steak.Then we went to ZaZa — which we visited on our last trip as well — and had a nice dinner. Daniel and Anna got a Florentin steak, which was much better this time since it was more cooked through per our request. The steak itself was enormous — the size of a soccer ball. After that we walked around some more, grabbed a cab to the hotel and hit the pool.

At the stop of 414 step high tower.We dedicated the whole next day to more Florence exploration. We took 414 steps to the top of the bell tower. Everyone did a great job climbing by the way! It was really windy at the top, but the view was magnificent.

Florence.We ate lunch at some restaurant in the center. There was a Russian hostess inviting us in, and we thought that we might as well try it. I got a risotto, and it was quite delicious.

414 steps up and down.We walked for a while after lunch. Visited famous Ponte Vecchio, tried to take in the beautiful views of Arno river, window shopped little jewelry and souvenir stores.

Ponte Vecchio.We tried to find a good gelato, but for the lack of options settled on the overpriced mediocrity at the end. The only plus side was that we could eat the gelato inside, and that’s exactly what we did. We took a cab to the hotel again, and after a light snack at the executive lounge hit the pool again.

Gelato!Our last full day in Florence was supposed to be spent on visiting the world famous Ufizzi gallery. However, Aaron made us change our plans. The thing is that he heard about the tower of Pisa before visiting Italy, and was under impression that he’ll get to see it on this trip. When he found out that we were not actual planning to go there, he got a little upset and really asked us if it was possible to do it.

A LOT of gelato!When we were making our plans originally we explored that option and decided that an hour trip each way on the train was too tiresome for the children, but as I said, Aaron really wanted to go. So that’s what we did. We got to the station, bought open-ended tickets and took a train to Pisa. We had to walk for a while to get to the tower, and it was drizzling, but the children were excited.

Tower of Pisa.After looking at the tower and taking pictures, we ate lunch at the nearby restaurant, and headed back. Daniel had gnocchi with pesto and Arosha was brave enough to try them. He liked it so much that he ordered them for himself at some point later in the trip instead of his meal of preference — pasta with marinara sauce.

Our women.The children bought little souvenir towers and were extremely excited about those. We had to hurry though to make it to the train in time in order not to lose another hour for being a few minutes late, so I grabbed Anna in my hands and we ran. Unfortunately, Anna was partially obstructing my view and I managed to bump into a short pole near to the train station and fell down. Luckily, Anna was not hurt and I just got a nasty bruise on my right knee.

Pisa.We made it in time for the train, then took a cab from the train station, got light dinner at the executive lounge and finished the day with the pool again.

The next morning we headed out to Venice.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Living Area v0.9

Family room. View from the staircase leading to this floor.It’s now been almost 8 months since we’ve moved into our new house. All this time has been well spent on making it truly ours. We didn’t bring any furniture with us. Now we had a chance to start and style our house anew. It changed quite a bit from where it has started.

This is another post in series of posts about how we set everything up, following the recently published update on our kids’ rooms. I’ve taken these pictures several weeks ago and in that time they’ve became slightly outdated — we’ve finally put a bunch of art and paintings up.

Family room. Looking from the fireplace in the opposite direction. Hallway leads to all the bedrooms.The centerpiece of our family room is our enormous orange leather sectional. This was one of our purchases on Wayfair and one downside buying furniture online is that you can’t really test how comfortable the piece will be. Turns out it’s not, because of the shape of the backrest. However it was easily remedied by a couple of puffy pillows.

The ottoman was also not attached, so it was sliding out of our preferred place, so we screwed it together with a couple of brackets underneath. However it does look stellar and after a few modifications that we have done it’s very functional. We use this place as our main evening TV watching location.

Looking from the family room into the dining room.Speaking of TVs — we’ve ended up mounting them on the wall and are not using any additional furniture. Our old TV is mounted in our kitchen eating area, and our newer one is in our family room right across from our orange sectional. Both TV are powered by Apple TVs hidden behind the screens themselves. No wires, no nothing. Family room TV has Philips Hue Play bars attached to it.

Originally we were trying to hire somebody to put them up, but eventually gave up on that and I mounted them up myself. We’ve probably saved a bunch of money and did them perfectly to our liking.

Dining room. Looking at the opposite wall.I’ve written earlier about our fireplace, but since then we’ve done yet another thing to it. We’ve actually installed glass doors onto the opening. The problem was that after we would make a fire we would end up keeping the flute in the chimney open all throughout the cold nights because the fire would still be still smoldering. And we end up losing all the warm air that we generated and then some.

So now we can close the glass doors and leave the flute open. Another thing that we discovered was that even with the flute closed there was a major draft happening that became very apparent after the doors were installed, but before they were sealed on the sides. So overall it’s a good investment for winters and summers, even when the fire is not going.

Living room, temporary loaded with patio furniture set.Another thing that we did soon after moving in was changing really old-fashioned chandeliers to a set of very modern ones. In fact we’ve got a ton of compliments on them. These were a “new house” gift from our parents.

And we also put up the curtains on all our windows making the space so much more cozy. The family room curtain was an old one from our Brooklyn apartment that we eventually replaced, but it’s found its place on our window again. And the living room curtains were a gift from our parents in Belarus.

Living room from another angle.For the dinning room we originally ordered a set from Wayfair for quite a bit of money. And then a day after we did that we went to IKEA. And out of a ton of furniture stores that we actually visited IKEA had the best looking modern wooden table that we’ve seen for a really good price. We were slightly disappointed about that.

And then Wayfair delivered their furniture. Beside the fact that more than half the pieces were completely broken during shipment and the fact that half the set got delayed by three months the actual quality of veneer on this furniture was paper-thin. And then they sent replacement for the broken parts that also came in broken.

Living room, showing the door leading to a covered porch.So we were glad to just cancel the order at that point and order a table and a set of leather chairs from IKEA. Couldn’t be happier. And then on another trip to IKEA we bought the final touches to our dining room — big round mirrors done in the same color of wood as our table. Initially we were thinking of putting up a big rectangular horizontal mirror, but a pair of these ended up looking much more interesting, we think.

Our living room was originally fairly empty and Alёna actually liked the idea of a lot of open space, but when the winter came around we moved our patio furniture — sofa, table and the armchair — indoors. And it ended up being very useful and comfortable in its current location. For the summer we’re going to move it back to the patio and are going to buy something more permanent for our living room.

Living room, looking toward the dining room and kitchen bar.We also managed to find a large pot for a plant in orange-teal theme that we have going. This plant used to be tiny when we originally got it — it would fit in a tea cup. This is the second time that we had to replant it and we’re hoping its going to go through this move OK.

And the kitchen bar is the place where we eat our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, unless we’re hosting somebody. It ended up being extremely convenient. Much more better than a set up we had in our apartment — eating everything on a living room coffee table and moving all the plates and dishes back and forth between that and the kitchen. The granite counter is much easier to clean among other things.

The bar chairs were left by the previous house owners and we’re fine with them for the time being. We might update them to something more modern looking when we have a chance. We did remove that metal contraption from the wall and replaced it with a painting.

We’re loving how it all came out and are enjoying our house and all this space very much.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin