Even though there's always a small whisper of "what-if?" in the back of my mind when I consider hovering above earth in a little tin-can-in-the-sky, I love a good plane ride. It's the kid in me -- the little girl setting off into the pasture on her pony to make wild discoveries, daring escapes, and return home victorious. And tired. And happy.
Of course, it helps if you are traveling with your posse. Or at least one tried-and-true travel buddy. Once again, my friend Paula and I are off on our next cycling adventure. Tuscany-bound!
A book, a nap and few semi-conscious meals later and we are in Florence, greeting our Italian partner/leader/guide, Lorenzo. Lorenzo and I have met twice, once on a flight to Panama City and once in Los Altos, CA where we agreed to work together on a trip to Lorenzo's beloved Tuscany. A hug from Lorenzo upon our arrival and I can feel we're already family. It's going to be a wonderful adventure.
Even our van ride is exciting as we sway through the roundabouts into Florence. The moments between leaving the airport and arriving at our first destination are filled with anticipatory delight -- it's just a van ride. But we are on a magic carpet. Our home for the night is just a few steps from the walls of the old city.
We settle in, shower, change clothes and enjoy a tour of Lorenzo's neighborhood, and a visit on his terrace before walking to the pizzeria for dinner. Since San Francisco, we've been thinking about sinking our teeth into our first Italian pizza. And enjoying that first glass of chianti.
We take an alternate route through the old city gates back to our apartment. The full-head-tilt-toward-the-stars-gaze at the iron gateway into Florence conjures the enormity of ancient, mounted, iron-laden armies. This evening it welcomes us warmly. Tomorrow, we'll head to the countryside for our first bike ride in Tuscany!
Up, up and away!