OK so here I am, driving a standard transmission for the first time in nearly 30 years, in the pitch dark, along narrow winding mountain roads in a strange land. Not exactly how I had anticipated our trip to Tuscany starting off. But let me back up a bit to explain how this happened.
Our adventure began early in the day. We rolled our suitcases to Victoria Station and hauled them back down the stairs to the tracks. Unfortunately I had picked the stairs to the train going the opposite direction to what we wanted. Reluctantly I broke the news to Susan that we would have to haul our bags back up the stairs and down the stairs on the other side. I could tell how pleased she was at the news. Luckily for her though a gentleman coming down the stairs turned around and carried her suitcase up the stairs for her. When we got to the other set of stairs another fellow carried her bag down the stairs for her. You got to love Londoners!
Our good fortune seemed to end there. We caught the District Line and transferred to the Piccadilly Line at the Hammersmith Station. Two stops later we were told that our Heathrow-bound train was no longer bound for Heathrow and that we would have to get off and catch the next train in 3 minutes that would go to Heathrow. 15 minutes later an empty train pulled up with the announcement that it would be going to Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 & 5. In moments the empty train was full of passengers booted off the prior train and heading to Heathrow. For the poor souls trying to get to Terminal 5 they would have to once more get off and transfer to another train when it was announced that there had been another change and our train was not going to T5. Fortunately we were headed to Terminal 1 so we could stay on the train.
The first leg of our flight to Florence went smoothly, arriving in Munich on schedule. After a short stopover our flight to Florence departed right on schedule. Ahhh the tribulations of the morning were all behind us now and everything was unfolding according to plan. Wrong! As we started our descent into what we thought would be Florence the pilot announced that we had been diverted to Pisa as strong winds precluded landing in Florence. Apparently there is only one runway in Florence and if there are strong crosswinds it isn’t advisable for flights to land there. We were assured that we would be bussed to the Florence airport, a distance of about 50 miles. Upon landing in Pisa we heard the announcement to collect our baggage and wait inside the airport for further instructions. After well over an hour the luggage carousel came to life and delivered our suitcases. It seemed everyone else retrieving bags was heading outside so thinking we had missed an announcement we followed them outside where everyone now seemed to be going in different directions. Not recognizing anyone from our flight we decided to wait for a few minutes to see if anyone providing directions would come along. Silly thought. After waiting a bit I headed back into the terminal to see if there would be any more announcements. Nothing. After a few inquiries we finally made our way to the bus loading zone and into the State of Confusion. At first no one seemed to know which bus we should get on. Then we were directed to put our bags on one. A few minutes later we were told to move the bags to another bus. Thankfully when we boarded the bus I recognized quite a few of the people as having been on our flight.
By the time we got to the Florence airport and acquired our rental car it was 8:30, 4 hours late, and nearly dark. I phoned the owner of our accommodations to advise we had been delayed. Helen graciously suggested we stop at the restaurant near the farm for supper and she would meet us whenever we finally arrived.
So that’s how I found myself navigating Tuscan roads, not in the daylight as originally planned, but in the dark of night.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Borgo Forra and arrived at Podere Boggioli at about 10:30. Our hosts Helen and Keith Richmond greeted us and checked us into our apartment for the next month. In short order we flopped into bed: unpacking could wait until the morning.