Yes, that’s right, Podge and Tubbs finally get to [do] Florence. It’s been a long time coming but today is finally the day when they get to visit Florence and see the Ponte Vecchio, something they had been waiting to see ever since that fateful trip when Tubbs fell ill after a long day in Rome: They never did find out if it was the lager or the ice cream that was off but one of them surely made Tubbs very poorly – Poor Tubbs.

The morning saw the Oceana sail back into Livorno and park in the same spot they had parked for the trip to Pisa. As was now the norm’, Podge arose nice and early to watch the boat sail in, park and tie up all the strings. Once again, Podge had had a bad night and found breathing to be a bit of a chore but he knew, nay, he was determined, ‘They had to visit Florence’. So Podge sat on the balcony drinking his early morning coffee and watched port life go about it’s every day business. Rubbish barges drifted this way and that; fuel hunger boats came and went; bully boats (tugs) just went here there and everywhere just looking for boats to bully; cargo ships being dragged in and out, by the bully boats; and even some people rowing. Oh yes, it was all happening in the port of Livorno.

Now, today was going to be a full on day with the trip to Florence being of 8+ hours duration which meant a very early start: This meant an early awakening for The Duchess. Podge hated having to waken The Duchess as until that point, all was quiet and he was safe in his solitude and thoughts and he knew that such peace and quiet was to be at an end. Podge knew, as always, waking her had to be done gently such that she awoke slowly and in a good mood but today was an  early start and so this morning’s task was going to be fraught especially as this time she would have to be awoken at 05:30 to allow her time to come round slowly and transition from her gentle land of slumber to being compos mentis, or as near compos mentis as is practical at that time of the morning. It was a struggle and she certainly wasn’t happy at the fact that 05:30 had arrived in the middle of the night and insisted that Podge had got the time wrong: He hadn’t and slowly she accepted the fact. The promise of Florence soon brought her back up to full speed however: A good breakfast in the posh restaurant also helped.

On most ships, there is one large self service type restaurant where the hoarding masses descend like locusts, finding a table then helping themselves to as much as they can get on the plate, returning to their table and  devouring all in sight. This is normally quite acceptable to His Podgeness and The Duchess as the restaurant does stay open right through Breakfast and Brunch before setting up for Lunch. On this morning however they felt that they would take breakfast in the posh restaurant where you are shown to your table, your order is taken and your breakfast is then brought to you. A much easier and more agreeable start to the day…

With their hunger sated and Podge’s breathing slightly easier, t was all to soon to get off the boat and going the coach for the hour drive to Florence. ‘Good, more sleep time’ thought Tubbs: ‘Bet she falls asleep’ thought Podge.  Sure enough, she fell asleep and asleep she stayed all the way to Florence.

On arrival the structure of the day was to be a route march guided tour around the main points of interest with the second half to be free time to explore at leisure or, in the case of Podge & Tubbs, explore a bit then find a bar, drink wine and check out the Pizza Menu until it was time to go back to the boat.

The morning went really well except for when Podge had to break off for a comfort break then totally lost his only to come back to the group from another direction still feeling uncomfortable. The second attempt was fine, it would seem that they were standing right next to the place he needed to visit.

As Podge returned to the group, he was stunned and what little breath he had was taken away as he looked straight ahead and up at the Basilica of Santa Croce: What a sight! Pictures just cannot do it justice. It has to be seen to be believed.

WP_2016_Florence_2016-04-07 13.08.28

Why is that Podge is always drawn to Churches, Cathedrals, Monasteries?

The tour guide moved on to show off all the special places of Florence, culminating in a visit to the Ponte Vecchio: The Duchess had been looking forward to visiting the Ponte Vecchio as she had heard there was an abundance of shops selling all manner of sparkly things (diamonds and gold) that she might need. His Podgeness however was dreading the prospect. He needn’t have worried. The bridge, which is all the Ponte Vecchio is, was packed with grockles and students on student trips. It was difficult to get to any part of the bridge or see any of the shops and all too quickly then both left and waited for the group and tour guide to catch up. All these years waiting to see the Ponte Vecchio and it turns out to be anti-climax. Still, they had seen it, they could tick it off, They were happy but disappointed. “Never Mind” says Podge, The tour bit will end soon and we’ll have time to ourselves for wine and Pizza”. Tubbs was mightily cheered.

By now, Podge was truly in need of a rest: His heart was bouncy and his lungs were being very truculent. Podge was not comfortable or happy yet Podge was happy because Tubbs was happy and there had been no visits to sparkly trinket shops.

Wine & Pizza

After much searching, well, about five minutes (Podge & Tubbs have a nose for wind bars they found a nice little place in the Piazza Santa Croce called the Boccadama (they did actually try two bars but are only able to remember this one. The other one was full of foreigners anyway 🙂 ) selected a nice table in the square, which conveniently was the meeting point for the walk back to the bus for the ride back to the boat. That however was two hours away. Until then, they could sit, eat and drink and more importantly, rest. Podge was very, very tired.

At last, the time came for all to return to the ship tired and exhausted where they enjoy a nice rest on the balcony and a glass of wine, maybe two, before dinner and watch as the ship loosened all its strings and backed to of its parking lot and head out to see en-route to Naples. And so they settled into their evening, content: Both were very happy. They had conquered Florence. They had done well. All three objectives had been met.


There’s no reason for these pictures other than it would seem that Podge has started taking pictures of bikes in the places he visit’s. Why?, nobody knows, not even Podge other than Podge Likes Bikes. Anyway, here are a couple of bikes he saw in Florence.

Images of Florence

Come Back Soon

Next Stop: – Naples