Perusing Pisa

Trip Start Oct 07, 2008
Trip End Dec 10, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

After an early morning stretch class in the on-board gym and a big buffet breakfast of waffles, pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns, the four of us set off by shuttle bus into the Italian port city of Livorno, a pretty, classically Italian town.  Picturesque as it was, we were headed for nearby Pisa, and wandered the streets map in hand trying to look as though we were walking purposefully.  The train station turned out to be a fair walk from the city centre where the shuttle had dropped us off, but we managed to make it just in time to scramble onto a departing train and settle in for the twenty-minute trip.

Leaning Tower aside, Pisa is a beautiful town in its own right and we had a lovely walk through the cobbled streets and over stone bridges, past glittering designer stores and endless Christmas markets selling clothes, shoes, and pashminas in every colour of the rainbow.  We got a bit lost in the winding side streets, and asked a helpful local for directions while Joy and Matt explored a random cathedral.  Back on track, we followed the signs to our first glimpse of the Leaning Tower in all its lopsided glory.  Seeing it in person, like other famous monuments such as the Pyramids or Eiffel Tower, it always seems to have a strangely familiar feel about it tempered by a sense of unreality that you are actually here in this place you have seen so many times in books, movies, and photos.

After taking some compulsory touristy photos, we at our picnic lunch sitting on the steps opposite the Tower, then just strolled among the crowds and vendors for a while before eventually making our way back to the train and Livorno with plenty of time to spare.  Back on the boat, we headed to our usual restaurant for dinner - grilled portobello mushrooms, chicken breast stuffed with artichoke and feta and served with honey-roasted vegetables, and flourless chocolate cake.  After cups of tea in the outdoor cafe and second desserts from the buffet, we headed for another evening hot tub and then called it a day in preparation for our early start to the Vatican Museum in the morning - this time, we were determined to make it to the Sistine Chapel!

All our best from Italy,

Dan and Gabes
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