Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wake up! We're going to Pisa!

And thus begins my blog about tilted towers, and how to go see them. Are you ready for this? One thing I do promise is that it will not take as long to read this post as it did to get to experience. Or to even arrive in Pisa.

As I said before I had thought that getting to Pisa was going to be the biggest problem of my day. Why? Oh yeah, because I thought that we were going to have to wake up at 4:30am to get to the train station in time for a 6:30am train. Here's how that played out.

I went to bed (after extensive half lucid research) around 1am and set my alarm for 4:15am. That makes it approximately 3 hours of sleep with the full intention of getting everyone else up and getting to Pisa.  But just to make sure, I decided that before I intentionally jumped on Kate's bed shouting, "Kaaaate!!!! Get up!!!! We're going to Pisa!!!!!!!" (Note, we had made jokes earlier about this and pronouncing it "piz-uh".  We're hilarious.), I would wake Erica up and make sure that we really wanted to take a 4 hour train ride starting at 6:30am. If that sounds rough, then maybe you aren't cut out for this kind of adventurous life style.

So my alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, go wake up Erica, and we had about a 15 minute discussion (whilest looking up train times) as to whether we actually got up and got to the train station if we could even buy the tickets. I voted, that if there was less than a 5% risk of getting stuck at the train station until the ticket office opened (this means just sitting around wishing we could go back to sleep) that we should do it. I mean, it'd be really fun to wake Kate up at 4:30am. But if there was more of a 49% chance that we would get stuck that I was going back to bed.  After extensive research (again, only about 15 minutes of that) we found that there was actually a 10:30am train to Pisa.  Of course, that meant that we would get there around 2:30pm, but it also meant 4 more hours of sleep. Erica then suggested that we just wake Kate up anyway, and 'live our day backwards'.  This meant (as I gathered) that we do homework before the train because we were going to sacrifice our evening that we had originally intended on being in Rome. Not buying that I would be very productive at 4:30am, we instead opted to go back to bed, catch the 10:30 train, and lose the joy of waking Kate up before dawn. The sacrifices we make.

4 hours later....

Wake up again, this time with the REAL intention of going to Pisa. Make some coffee, grab some gear, pack for two 4-hour train rides, and walk over to the Trastevere train station. This is a much more reasonable time to be awake, fact. Catch the train (with only minutes to spare, damn we're good) and then proceed to wander the cabins looking for 3 seats together. The trick is to not sit next to anyone who looks mildly creepy or who may smell bad. But for the first couple of stops, this proved very difficult. We ended up splitting for a few minutes, Erica by her lonesome, and Kate and I by a man whose dog was unhappily cowering underneath the seat next to him. Poor pooch. Although Rebecca Black's refrain was obnoxiously running through our heads, Erica finally found 3 seats together, and we moved. Thus begins our 4 hours of semi-journaling, doing homework, reading, and jamming to our tunes. Oh, and looking at Italian countryside and the glimpses of the Mediterranean from the window.

So the first order of business was to find somewhere to eat, after all, traveling for 4 hours especially over lunch is a famishing experience. So we wandered around for a bit, searching for somewhere that wasn't on siesta. Finally we stumbled across a little out door diner and probably finished off the last of the tortellini before we began our walk across town to find that one building... What's that called again? Oh yeah, I remember, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It sure does lean alright. And the funnier part is watching all of the people stand randomly on the lawn that you're not supposed to stand on with their hands in the air.  It looks like a series of people that are just desperate for a high five. In fact, it would be absolutely hilarious to try and stage a picture with someone else without knowing it that you would be high fiving them instead of propping up the tower. Hilarious? Yes.

So we did the full tourist thing. Pushed down the tower, propped up the tower, got chased off the lawn by the police-everything. Then we looked through all of the shops lining the street and made scarf purchases (always worth it). Decided enough was enough and got some gelato.  Looked around and then decided that if we were indeed going to travel the 4 hours back starting at nearly 8pm, that we should probably get some dinner, regardless of how late we had lunch or the fact that we just ate gelato. So we stumble upon a sushi place and begin discussion as to whether or not to eat sushi. But we continued this discussion as we walked across the street to an Italian Cafe.

Enter: Vittorio. He is an interesting individual who came up to persuade us that his restaurant was better than the sushi place across the street. Picture this: Sicily, 1945... uh, just kidding....  Uh, curly long blonde hair-but that's not the natural color. Naturally he would be a brunette darker than my color.  Pulled back in a bun.  Wearing extensive mesh-knit chains and has his ear pierced. His bracelets match the necklaces, but he's wearing a white collard shirt under his hoodie. His nearly perfect English with his British accent eventually wore us down so that we finally caved and got a table. He then proceeded to learn our names and how long we were in Pisa. Chat, chat chat. He eventually managed to persuade Kate to get the 'bomb' (which he had to write down on the placemat for dramatic effect) which was not an explosive device, but rather a very specialized Italian burger with a fried egg on it. We ordered, but unlike all of the other waiters in Italy, he was determined to keep coming back to check on us.

Checking up on us turned into hitting on fast. At this point I would like to point out the time similarites: This all was happening between the hours of 6 and 7pm on a Saturday. Do you happen to remember what was happening one week ago from that time? I'll give you a hint: 'face up'. So I'll keep you updated on other strange 6-7pm occurrences on Saturdays. He picked Erica and proceeded to pull out all the stops. And that means magic tricks. What? Magic tricks? Yup. All the stops.

Note to those optimistic boys out there who are thinking, 'Hey, I could do magic tricks!' Word to the wise--make sure they're good. But not Vittorio! He was attempting to do a magic trick with his business card. How? Because he had his contact information on one side, and his picture on the other. This is not a good plan of attack. The short version is that after extensive talking and flirting, he flips over the card to our 'surprise' his picture. Eventually he came back again this time with cards. Woof. Long story short, if the card that Erica picked had a blue back, she got to keep the piece of paper that she wrote her "contact" information on, if it was red, he got to. The good news is that basically the only real part was her first name. The bad news is that he got to keep it anyway. So by the end of the meal (which couldn't come fast enough) we were MORE than ready to sit on a train for 4 hours.

Run run run. See a pretty suit in a store window--had to go investigate. Found a prettier suit inside. Got weak in the knees looking at the pattern, completely blacked out at the price tag. So for my first-born, I could have purchased a stunning one-button, blue stitching on black fabric skirt suit. Too bad I don't have a first born up for sale. Kate and Erica dragged my limp body from the store with apologies to the clerk and we ran to the train station.

On to the train, sitting for 4 hours, this time with ample seating. Covering up (it was a little chilly) with the scarves we had purchased, and I read some of my book (I'm actually read for fun! The last time I think I had time to read for fun between the months of September and April, I think I was 12). And after that we walked home to our wonderful cheesecake. It was so good. And now it's gone. So good.

And a totally successful trip. I'll try to post some pictures soon.

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