Saturday, August 08, 2009

Eurotrip Diaries - Pisa

Day 12.

Pisa is only an hour away from Florence, so we left in the morning and came back late afternoon with enough time to still roam around Florence. Pisa is set in the heart of Tuscan countryside, really beautiful and with amazing weather.

8.27 am. The train is supposed to be at platform 1. There is no train at platform 1! One man helpfully suggests platform 5 when we say “Pisa”. Hope he didn’t think we were asking for pizza. We run to platform 5, a train is about to leave. We jump on board, hoping it’s the one to Pisa. It was.

8.40 am. The compartment we jumped on to was a 2nd class compartment. We have first class Eurail passes. Walked through the whole train to realize this is a regional train, there’s no first class. Forced to sit in second class. I feel so downgraded.

10 am. Finish a proper breakfast at the Pisa station, with tea. Ready for the tower.

10.20 am. Waiting for the LOCAL bus to take us to the tower on a LOCAL route. With stops along the way. Really, why not a direct bus to the tower? Why else would ANY one come to Pisa?

10.30 am. At the tower.
The Duomo inside the plaza that also houses the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Gosh, it’s expensive. It’s 42 euros for us both to climb the tower, visit the Duomo and the Cathedral. Our time slot for the climb is 12.40 pm, so we have a couple of hours to kill.

Our first view of the Tower

There’s souvenir shops lined up by the mile inside the tower plaza. We pick up some cheap gifts here. Missing our Bengali vendors.


Everyone’s taking pictures of “holding up” the tower of Pisa, so we spend a good fifteen minutes taking such pictures of each other. “A little bit to the right, to the left, move your hand this way” etc. Almost leads to a fight!

"Tumi thik kore chobi nite paro na!" :-)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa. It really leans!

11 am. The Cathedral is more impressive on the inside than the Florence one.


It also seems quite inspired from the Prophet's mosque in Medina and the Cordova mosque in Spain. We eavesdrop on some Italian guides and hear them say the same thing in reverse. Er, people, check your history.


The main altar

Paintings on the dome of the cathedral.


11.30 am. The Duomo is so blah. Really, nothing much to see here.

12.40 pm. At the tower.



You have to check your bags somewhere else so had to spend good 5 minutes doing that.


And then our climb started.

Really, this was unlike ANY other tower or stairs I have climbed. The building leans, so half the time you are falling on to the right wall and the other half you are leaning on to the left.


We stopped at all the view points to take pictures and admire the view.

The final two decks were very narrow, claustrophobic and steep. Not to mention slippery.

At the bell tower level. These bells when rung signify something important happening in the city of Pisa. These are also from where Galileo allegedly dropped various sized cannon balls to prove gravity is constant.

And then the climb up to the bell tower was another fright inducing one.


Very narrow, at times I was climbing on all fours.

1 pm. Finally!

The view was breathtaking.



Not only was beautiful Tuscany laid out for all to see, but the wind through your hair, plus the noticeable tilt of the top, all makes for a very wonderful experience.

2 pm. Still waiting for the bus - Lam Rosse. Really, can’t they have an express bus to and from the station? Why else do they think ANY one will come to Pisa.


3.30 pm. Back in Florence. Sleep. Pack. Eat. Sleep again. Tomorrow, iA, Rome. Then, home.

Pisa was really fun. Our short time here (half a day) plus the good crowd management (timed slots) really helped. The climb up was something unique and it feels good to have something as famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa as your backdrop picture!


Farah said...

lovely pictures!

Er, I think what you said is the Duomo is actually the Baptistry, and what you said is the Cathedral is the Duomo! am I making sense!

mezba said...

wow, really?

I have to check...

perhaps you are right - it's hard to remember.

misspecs said...

I'll take your word for whatever places you've mentioned, LOLZ. :D

The pictures are fantastic! You seem to have had a great time this summer!

The holding-up-the-tower-pictures are always classic, LOLZ.

'liya said...

Your pictures remind me of mine and out short visit there, isn't it great to include for a few hours so you can see the main sights, Pisa works so well like that. One thing I remember is having the BEST pasta there. Oh and I also remember having to wait for that bus (and it was SO crowded and hot). Were there a lot of tourists when you went?

mezba said...

Missspecs: I will have to verify the names ... I think Farah might be correct, but anyways... so lazy to fix it now.

Yup, holding up the tower ... takes lot of time to get it right too! plus they chase you off the grass.

Liya: oh ya, the Italian food was great. I think I never had better pasta or pizza anywhere else. Even Frankie Tomatos here doesn't compare.

mezba said...

Liya: forgot to add... LOTS of tourists... and it was so crowded waiting for that bus to take us back to the train station. And no one seems to check for tickets on the bus. I don't like crowded places in general and buses in particular, so had to keep a hand on the wallet all the time! I wish they had direct express to the Pisa tower and station!

koonj said...

The writeup and the photos are just great. I am quite envious. But you guys were also quite intrepid tourists. I'd probably just get the doner kabab and walk around and be done :)

geekisiddiqui said...

haha, just walk! Its not a long walk from the station to the tower and you get to explore!

Also....I never knew there was a bus.....but ah well, the walk was fun..luckily not too hot of a day either. Now I miss Italy!

mezba said...

geeki: I was thinking about walking, but could not convice the wife of it! Also, it became very hot when we were about to leave. I wouldn't have minded a walk - we were really travelling light ... no backpack too.. just cheap souveniers on hand.

I miss Italy as well. Actually I just miss being on vacation ! :-D

mezba said...

Koonj: thanks! ya we like being tourists... although it's an expensive hobby! I just wish someone would give me a paid vacation. :-)