From Budapest to Tuscany…
There are so many things I want to tell you.
Like, for example, we left Budapest on Saturday morning, at about 11. Our host was supposed to meet us at 1045, to call us a taxi to the train station…but, well, her supposed to got up and went. So there we were, a mile and a half from the station, with only 40 minutes to make it. And, we had our luggage. Only two bags each, but heavy…and well, we just weren’t going to make it walking.
Luckily, I remembered where our hotel was from 2 years ago, a big fancy place with a doorman, and said doorman was kind enough to call a taxi for us. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare. Still, starting out the day in a bit of a panic just sets your tummy off in a butterfly filled funk, and it doesn’t just go away. You know that feeling?
We boarded our first class car (only a $10 upgrade, and so worth it!), and off we went towards our next stop. We ordered hot cocoa and cappuccino, ate some bananas we had brought from our flat, and the time seemed to fly by. About 2 and 1/2 hours later, we pulled into the main station in Vienna, Austria. I’d not set foot there since 2000, and it was Rusty’s first visit. The day was a bit gloomy, so, not perfect for setting the right tone. You know what I mean…the tone you need to just make you fall in love with a place. It wasn’t there, no matter where we walked, or looked, it just wasn’t our town. The good news? We did make it over to the Prater, one of the larger parks in the city.
Maybe I was just blind in 2000, or maybe there in the wrong month or wrong time of day or SOMETHING, but I swear to you, I only remember the Ferris wheel in the Prater. An old, cabin car Ferris wheel that appeared to be in ailing condition, at that. I rode it back then, at night, with views out over the city.
So, when we wandered into the park THIS TIME, I was astounded to see that the place looked like Busch Gardens. A Madame Toussauds, a Chocolate Museum, a million funhouses and roller coasters and more Ferris wheels…bumper cars and water rides, a giant swing…when did all THIS GET HERE?
As we made our way through the rides and vendors selling all manner of junk foods, we made it to our destination…the Schweizerhaus. We had come to this restaurant in the park because according to thousands of online reviews, it is THE spot for Weiner Schnitzel. And for those of you wondering, no, Weiner does not mean hotdog. It means VIENNESE. As in, from Vienna. So of course, when in Vienna, one should eat VIENNA SCHNITZEL.
So we did.
And it was, in truth, excellent.
On our way back through the park we bought cotton candy and a huge cream horn, and a candy apple, because when a fat girl walks 7 miles in one day, she knows how to make up for it. All at once.
Sadly, the apple was just meh, mealy at best and covered in cheap chocolate. The cream horn we’ve managed about half of…it’s huge huge. It seems with each day that passes it gets a tad bit better. And the cotton candy? It stood no chance.
Around 730 we made our way back to the station to fetch our luggage from the storage locker we rented (so easy, and we were able to store all of our bags in one big locker for only 3.50 euros), then boarded our overnight train to Florence.
Poor Rusty has never spent the night on a train, and in his grand illusions he assumed a Double Sleeper meant a night on the Orient Express. No, sweetheart, you get a bunk bed, not a four poster bed with satin sheets.
After his initial disbelief, he settled in nicely, especially after he was given a menu to fill out his breakfast order. It’s amazing what an included breakfast will do for some people’s moods…well, his, anyway. Once he knew that coffee and yogurt were coming bright and early, he crawled into his bunk, curled up under the (really great, actually!) blankets, and the next thing I knew, he was snoozing.
It’s so easy to sleep on a train, what with the constant rocking, the white noise, it’s just peaceful. Eight hours later, we awake to breakfast in our room, and the announcement we would be arriving about half an hour late into Florence.
Luckily, we hadn’t purchased tickets from Florence to Poppi, where we would be staying until the first of November. So, that was good. We were able to just buy tickets once we arrived, but only to Arezzo. We weren’t too worried, we just assumed we’d be able to purchase a ticket to Poppi once we made it to Arezzo.
Alas, this was not the case.
Instead, we ended up on a bus.
No big deal, really…we got to see much of the Tuscan countryside, so that was nice.
What wasn’t nice?
Getting off the bus in Poppi having zero idea where our farmhouse was, nor having a way to call the owner, nor, as it turns out, being able to find a shred of WiFi.
Dear sweet lord. No WiFi in either of the cafes we found.
In a stroke of sheer fortune, the one English speaking gentleman I happened upon offered me his phone as a hotspot. I was able to google the address, but ouch- it was more than 2 miles away. Not happening with our luggage, and no taxis in this part of the country.
This nice man offered to call the number I gave him, and, get this…as he typed in the last number, the owner’s name popped up and he smiled.
“Ah, mi amici.”
He called her up, and then offered to drive us up the hill to our rental.
Can you believe that luck??
When we drove onto the dirt road that eventually opened up onto a view of the house…oh my heavens.
It was from a storybook.
A large stone farmhouse. Separate barns and cottages. A hot tub and pool overlooking the Tuscan hillside. And to the right, a view of the Castle of Poppi, where Dante was exiled back in the 1200s. Our house has been here since the 600s. 600s!! Recently refurbished after sitting empty for decades, our farmhouse has two large apartments in it, and the cottage next door has a third. There is a wellness center below our room, with a large stone jacuzzi (I worked from there today!), and there is a huge barn with a great kitchen where we’ve been treated to breakfasts each day.
To say we are in love is an understatement.
So, while there is so much more to tell you, I simply cannot today. You see, I’m relaxing. I’m tucked into my ancient house bed, looking up at centuries old beams. I spent 2 hours in the jacuzzi before making fresh pasta for dinner in our cozy kitchen. I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT how to rent this luscious property, how much it costs (so affordable), and share more photos of our new home. But not now.
Work will just have to wait.
You understand, right?