Well, it was an amazing, wonderful, memorable trip. It's now Tuesday, so I can barely keep my eyes open after two days of classes (!!) but I want to write up what I can remember so that it's recorded. So let's see.
The trip over was cake, as far as I was concerned. I slept well on the plane--it felt like a 3 hour trip, maybe. We'd taken the bus down from Bangor, so we had plenty of time at Logan (I saw Rob Liebow chaperoning a group of his Rockport students to Ireland!), and then a 6 hour layover in Zurich, but things all went smoothly.
In Florence, the big surprise for me was how much I loved the city. Its center is pedestrian-only, so it is far more accessible and mellow feeling than most big cities, and rubber-necking and/or people watching was easy and pleasant. There is art, lovely architecture, and fascinating history everywhere. Even though it was Easter weekend/week and the city was jammed with people (especially on Easter Sunday for the Explosion of the Cart in front of the Duomo), it was super easy to get away from the hustle and bustle and sit somewhere (with or without food/drink/gelato) to relax for a bit.
Our hotel was about 10 mins' walk down the Arno, and though we had possibly the tiniest room ever to house two people, the mattress was heavenly, and we had a balcony with a lovely view.
(The river is behind the trees.) We'd eat breakfast in the hotel and then set off for whatever awaited us: a trek through the Cinque Terre and National Park, blowing up a cart and then wandering through the Rose Gardens, general museum going, dinner with Lyle's host family, a food tour or a fishing trip, or just lots of wandering around enjoying Florence, the weather, and the pace of life.
One of the best parts of the trip was seeing how Lyle has blossomed: he is nearly fluent, and very willing to interact with people and try his Italian. Our two tour guides and his host family all raved about his linguistic skills and his general character! We got to see one of his shows and meet one of his professors and have dinner with four of his friends at a favorite trattoria--all a treat. He's working hard, learning a lot, and appreciating everything deeply: isn't that the combination we'd all wish for each and every child in the world? He'll be off to the Etruscan dig in Siena in three weeks, and home June 22. I miss him now after seeing him nightly for five days!
Our trip home was slick as well. We flew Lufthansa, and had a 45 min. layover in Munich, which concerned us a bit, but when we climbed down the stairs, there was a man with a "Bangor--New York" sign waiting with a van. He whisked us (about 8 people) off to a labyrinth of back doors, private access elevators, and expedited passport control, and we made our connection with an easy 20 mins. to spare. We also had tons of movies and lots and lots of food during the (really long) trip (made more tedious by the loud, immature 15 year olds behind us returning from a home stay in Germany of 10 days. Sheesh. They had no plane voices and overused "literally".)--all in all, Lufthansa is a win for me!
Our overnight with Janey and Geo and our trip back to Bangor were both convenient and easy. Janey even gave me the pick of her bookshelves. . . heaven! So we're home after a great trip. I have a "favorite city," and we're waiting Nate's return from Florida late tonight. We were so lucky to get to do that. What a great experience!