Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2008

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Where I stayed

Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Landing in Pisa was not very pleasant. I had a poor experience and I hope others have had better than me. To begin at the airport, the guys at information were not helpful. Only one hostel and is at this stop, bye bye go. Pretty much was the extent of our conversation. At least he gave me the map. I got to the city center and they refused to help me since I forgot the bus number to take. She was train information, not accomodations. And of course misery finds company. I found other backpackers trying to navigate the bus system. New Zealanders on a side trip from England. They were doing the common thing of working in London for money (due to Commonwealth rules) and then going around Europe since they made that money to travel. I went into a hotel and asked for directions. It took him a while to actually stop joking around with his coworker before he stopped and looked to see that someone needed help. But once that was done, he was willing to get rid of me by telling me in English where to pick up the bus. And it was helpful because we did not know that at this hour there was only the night buses. And that sucked because I wanted to get the tower out of the way tonight so that I could just leave for Cinque Terre in the morning.

At first, we were confused when we were on the bus. The driver said he'd notify us when Ostello stop was coming up. And of course we thought that since the stop was named "Hostel", that it would be a significant site and it would be pretty renowned. But then after passing the tower, it seemed like everyone got off the bus. And it was just us. And we kept going past more and more fields. And then a cemetery. Soon we were out of Pisa town limits and in Madonna dell'Acqua. And then the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere. "Ostello" he said. Great.

Basically it was an abandoned church facade that was in the middle of a swamp. There was nothing else nearby. Not even a single house. The reason the stop was named "Ostello" was because it was the only thing there. The last piece of civilization that I remembered seeing was about seven stops back where there was a gas station or something. The bus wouldn't return for at least an hour, so the choice was easy: either wait until the banjos start strumming and some weird local invites you in for a bite to eat or get to the hostel where there was only a 50/50 chance that the buildings behind the church were a torture factory. And when the Kiwis moved toward the hostel, I knew what to do. And me in my jacket and trillby looked so out of place.

Aside from the Kiwis there was an African man who also spoke English. He was as confused as we were and kept asking us what to do. Eventually we bothered the nightwatchman enough to stop watching the football match and open up the door for us. He took us one by one to the reservation desk and then showed us a room. I made sure I was last. I wanted to make sure that I didn't hear any bloodcurling screams in a New Zealander accent before I handed over my passport to get my info. Luckily no screams. But the mosquitos did make quite the buzz. They were eating the others alive. I had long sleeves on at least, but that didn't prevent them from trying to bite through the fabric.

So to get a private room I'd have to pay double so I was forced to get a dorm room. And when I got to the dorm, the African man was there as well as an Italian man. And he had definitely lived there a while. He had everything set up on tables and cabinets. He had a system there. The African man was cursing about the mosquitos and kept swatting them. He tried to engage me in conversation. I kept out. I was afraid he'd ask me to go to a spa or club and then I'd wake up in the film "Hostel". He was a little too friendly and he was pretending as if he was a regular hostel goer and didn't know what was going on in the town. He spoke fluent Italian too. He said something to the Italian guy and I didn't understand. Probably something like, "this one dresses nice, he'll go for a nice price because the clients like a classy murder." "Oh yeah, at least 5000 euros, but maybe not more because he's short and doesn't look American." "Ha, ha. Yeah. Make sure to drug him in his sleep."

I took my leave as soon as I could. I locked everything up and took all my valuables. I hadn't eaten dinner and the buses were out of commission. I was told to walk about five minutes north and there would be a pizzeria. At first there was nothing. Eventually it started to look like a town that would have something. Then there was a guy walking ahead of me. Of course, in my paranoid state, I kept my distance in case he brandished a blunt weapon. He wasn't a worry to me as he eventually veered across the parking lot of a supermarket. Of my worries though was a local police officer who was riding along on his moto. As he passed me by, he yelled something and pointed at where I was walking. I took that to mean "Get off the road and walk elsewhere!" So I walked in the supermarket parking lot parallel to the road. He stopped and watched me walk. Then he yelled at me. So I kept walking. Then he kept yelling and waved me over and walked toward me. Grrrrreat. I just hope he's not in the "business" as well and now I'm going to "jail" for my last rites. He kept yelling at me in Italian. "Non parlo italiano. No entiendo." At least that shut him up. He told me that it was private property and I needed to stay on the road. So apparently Italian communication by police officers is counterintuitive to what you'd think. I got it now. So I walked on my way and he left. Whew.

Then I got to the pizzeria. It was slow to get a table and a menu, but that's how service is in Italy. But at least in this place, it was more because he was busy rather than ignoring me. Once I ordered, things went very fast and he was hospitable. He was the exceptional worker in the service industry that I appreciated, and for that I tipped him more than I had in other places. It was funny because I ordered the house wine and he plopped a full 1.5 liter bottle in front of me. I just kept drinking and drinking, but stopped at where there was a line. I later found out that they measure what you drink so I actually paid the price I expected. It was cheap for a real pizza from pisa as well. Prosciutto and mushrooms.

I got back before the hostel locked up for the night. They were already asleep. I could barely tell because they had the sheets over their heads. So I turned off the TV but then the Italian guy said to keep it on. Something about "lumiere", apparently I still speak French. I just went to bed instead. Five minutes later he got up and turned it off. Throughout the night there were mosquitos. So I slept with the sheets on and on my back. I never sleep like that. And it was so hot. Throughout my sleep I would absent mindedly take the sheets off my face to get some ventilation. The second that happened the mosquitos would buzz by my ear. Not just a little buzz, but an intense alarm clock like buzz. So back up the sheets would go. And by then I had been bitten. So I was also scratching bites throughout the night. I got back at midnight from the pizzeria, and by three o'clock I barely had any sleep. So I decided that before I could be killed by mosquitos or a strange hostel clerk, I would leave. So I packed up and the Italian guy started interrogating me and got up from his bed as well as if he was helping me. I told him I got it and left. I made sure to at least take one picture of Ostello before I left. It was one hellish convent if there was ever one.

I walked for two hours straight with my rolling suitcase until I got to the Piazza dei Miracoli. I took my pictures while no one else could bother me. Then I walked to the train station. It was strange to see the city before it awoke. But I was awake and didn't need Pisa anymore. And I left alive.

Disclaimer: This entry was sensationalized so that it would feel like 'Hostel".
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