Trip Start Sep 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 19, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Friday, September 19, 2008

We left Nice and headed off to Italia on the Italian intercity (IC) fast train, Trenitalia - a bit of an older fleet than the French trains, almost as old as the Johnsonville line back home! Unlike the French train system they are not always on time - we experienced this for the first time waiting for our connection from Genoa to Pisa. 

On the Genoa-Pisa train, we were seated in a compartment with a middle-aged Kiwi couple (and a couple of Italian blokes). Like us, the Kiwis had travelled from Nice (they were heading to Rome) - they had quite a bit of luggage including two large suitcases of which one of them had to go in the aisle as there isn't much room in the trains with compartments. They told us how they had stayed with friends in Nice and drove themselves around, but one time ended up driving on the tram tracks when their GPS sent them astray!

Italians seem to live in a world of semi-organised chaos - things seem to work here but we're not sure how. A classic example of this was when we arrived at Pisa station and went to the ticket office to book our next train reservations from Pisa. A rough old Italian man at the ticket office simply pointed us to around the corner. So we totted off there and found that the Eurail ticket office we had been directed to was closed, despite the sign on the window saying that their hours were 9am-6pm - we were there at 5pm. Oh well we thought, we'll go back tomorrow morning. We then went to the information office at the station as surely they would be able to provide us with a map so we could find our accommodation. Not to be - the picture of the sign in their window says it all! Great, we have to go somewhere else to get a map - problem is how do we get to the somewhere else to get the map! We just stood there and laughed. In the end we managed to get a taxi to our accommodation when they eventually turned up at the taxi stand. 

We were very pleased with the hostel I had booked on the internet - you never really know how good it will be until you get there. Only a one minute stroll to the Learning Tower of Pisa and a line of restaurants right outside our doorstep! The hostel was appropriately called Under the Tower. 

We got on the second to last tour of the day for the Tower as dusk was setting in. We climbed the 290-odd steps stopping on the way up for a photo as it was a perfect evening for it with the most gorgeous sunset. We got to the top and that's when my fear of heights tried to take over but I was determined to walk round the entire top of the Tower, despite the scary lean, and I did. I guess my fear of heights is not that bad when I saw a poor woman trying to crawl her way back down from the top as she was so petrified. It is a weird climb up the stairs of the Tower as you find yourself walking with the lean - not something you would want to do after a few drinks! The Tower is not as tall as I thought it would be and I'm glad that it wasn't when I walked up it.
(P.S. Internet is not great here either, hence for the slowness of my blog updates!)
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