We landed at London Heathrow at around 9:30 am the next morning. After clearing customs we had to go through security again as we were leaving one terminal and entering another, going from American to British Airways. Oh my, our liquids bags threw off security! So, before we left home, I came up with the grand idea to access the showers in the American Lounge once we arrived in Heathrow. After all, doesn't that sound nice after flying in a cramped seat for 8+ hours! I had packed all of our main toiletries in our checked luggage of course, but packed each of us a little quart-sized ziplock bag of just shower necessities for this purpose. Unfortunately, because we left the terminal where American was to go to the terminal where our next flight was, British Airways, we could no longer access the American Lounge. Argh! Also, the liquid Zyrtec I was carrying for my poor son who suffers from bad seasonal allergies was over the "100 mL limit", and being that it was OTC it was confiscated. After that they actually took all of our liquids and rebagged them. They were very nice about it, as folks usually are in England, but man that took a while! I guess what "flies" in the US doesn't fly in England! I was a bit annoyed as now I needed to find new allergy meds for Braden and my perfectly organized ziplocks for each of us were now a jumbled mess. After all that, due to our terminal change, we couldn't access the American lounge and therefore no showers...!
So, with the shower plan by the wayside, we decided to just freshen up in the bathroom. We then headed to a drugstore, Boots, where I found Braden some allergy tablets fairly equivalent to Zyrtec. From there we decided we should eat lunch to get our bodies set on the current time. We ate at the Giraffe cafe and we all felt better after the meal. Within a few hours we finally took off to Rome. We landed in Rome at around 7:30 pm and rushed to pick up our luggage and then to pick up the rental car. We upgraded from a minivan type of vehicle to an 8 passenger van because it was an automatic. Plus we could nicely spread out and had plenty of room for our luggage. We also rented the GPS which was a lifesaver! Soon, we peeled out of Fiumicino airport in our Mercedes bus and headed north for Tuscany! That's right, four hours of driving after all that air travel...great planning on my part, right?!
So I'd better explain my reasoning for my wild and crazy idea of going to Tuscany right away. Well, when my sister booked her itinerary she booked it flying into Florence and out of Venice, meaning she would be in Tuscany at the beginning portion of our trip. I knew it would be silly for us to be in Italy at the same time yet not see one another so I figured we would try to overlap somehow. Initially I had planned for us to do Rome for the first few days of the trip and finish off relaxing in Tuscany. It would have been nice to crash at the hotel in Rome after landing there but instead, we drove up to Tuscany...just a mere four hours to our rental home in Lucca!
I am actually glad that we did it the way we did. We had the relaxing portion of the trip at the beginning and then the busier part at the end, once we had adapted to the time change. So it all worked out! But as we were driving north on our travel day and I was fighting off crying due to being so tired I thought I had made a big mistake. We needed to get into Lucca by midnight as the nice man whose home we were renting said he could meet us as late as midnight to then show us to the home. I didn't want to keep him waiting as I realized this was not an ideal time to meet, so we pushed through. I also wanted to stay up to help Mike navigate if he needed it and didn't want him to accidentally fall asleep, either! Finally we arrived in Lucca, just a few minutes after midnight and met up with Massimo.
We followed Massimo through the outskirts of Lucca and then to the "Torre". Torre means tower in Italian, however at the time I thought it meant mountain. That seemed more fitting as our drive following Massimo up was winding up up and away, higher and higher into the hills of Lucca. We had the large 8 passenger van and Massimo had a smaller, more typical-European car. I was gripping the seat hoping we'd just make it soon! After about 15 minutes of winding up the curvy road with many hairpin turns, we finally arrived at the house. We couldn't see much as it was pitch black but Massimo was happily showing us all the inner workings of the house. I unloaded the van and reminded the kids that their PJs were in a packing cube in their backpack. They all quickly changed and I think as soon as our heads hit the pillows we were out!