The Adventure To Pisa

pisaOut of all the adventures from 30 days in Europe, one that took a lot of blind faith and confidence in my adventure skills was the trip to the Tower of Pisa.

Leaving the ship onto the shores of Livorno, Italy after my usual morning breakfast in the Veranda restaurant, I walked about 10 minutes into town to the bus stop and got aboard bus #4. I knew from the ship staff that bus 4 would take me to the train station. And so I find myself on bus 4 and for about one euro I rode for about fifteen minutes or so to the train station in Livorno. Not knowing a single word of the Italian language, I did have some concerns about me actually arriving at the tower without any difficulties.

It was pretty easy to figure out which bus stop was the train station since the bus pretty much emptied out when we stopped there. Like the rest of the passengers I proceeded into the terminal and was wowed by its age and historic appearance and the visions of train traffic from the many years it has seen began to run through my head. Overhead hung a large board with information on departures and arrivals much like any other transportation hub. And since I knew the word Pisa and I was in Livorno, I figured I would be able to mange the trip with no difficulties. Knowing that the worst that could happen is that I end up on a train ride through the Italian countryside which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

pisa3I made my way to the ticket window and just said “Pisa”, and in very good English the clerk asked me if I wanted one-way or round-trip. So after giving her a mere 5 Euro 40 cents, I made my way to the platform I had determined the train would leave from. Walking through some underground corridors and following the signs, I found “Bin 3” and made my way up the stairs to await my first Italian train ride.
The one tricky part was making sure I got on the right train to Pisa, as I found out that several trains left from bin 3 in fairly close succession to to each other and since my train was an hour behind schedule I was concerned about getting on one of those tours to nowhere instead of to Pisa. But then I notice a sign over top of the clock hanging in the platform that would change when a train pulled in. So I just watched until it changed to “Pisa”. Sure enough, one rolled in and the sign changed to Pisa, and I proceeded to get on board.

While I did in fact get to enjoy a thirty minute ride through the Italian countryside, at least I knew I was going to end up in Pisa. After making my way out of the terminal in Pisa, I noticed a street vendor in front selling water, candy and the usual that was common in Europe. I asked him where the “Tower” was at, and of course in pretty good English he told me it was about twenty minutes straight down the road in front of me. And so I headed of into the streets of Pisa with anticipation of seeing a giant leaning structure at some point.

Since it was not only a city I had never been to before, but yet even in another country, I was quite enjoying my journey to the tower. And as I walked and walked, I could not see any signs of it, but I just knew I would eventually. Sure enough after about twenty minutes, I noticed the top of the tower sticking above the buildings around me, by this time which were mostly cafe’s and small hotels that really didn’t look like a hotel.

pisa2Then the road just dead ended into a nice square with shops on one side facing a giant courtyard of structures including the Tower of Pisa, ?Cathedral and Baptistery. Firing off capture after capture with my camera, I was in a state of shock a little that I was actually here on the grounds of the Tower of Pisa. I made my way over to the ticket office and for only 15 Euro, I could climb to the top, and of course I purchased a ticket but it would be two hours before my tour would go up since they only allow twenty at a time to climb it.

I walked back to the edge of the courtyard and to a street cafe and had a spaghetti lunch right there with the tower right in front of me, yet another one of those european dining moments that hopefully will reside in my memory for a while. If not, at least I have plenty of photos to refresh my mind when it does get tired and gray. Then at my appointed tour time, I made my way back to the tower for the mighty ascent up the 294 steps to the top through some very narrow stairways just barely wider than my shoulders.

Similar to climbing a lighthouse, the task did take a bit more wind than normal, but I had no difficulties and didn’t need to stop for air since there was plenty of air once I reached the bell tower at the top. You could see out over the city for quite a distance and it was quite a feeling to realize I was actually at the top of the Tower of Pisa… just something I never even dreamed of happening in my lifetime.

After hanging out at the top until the tower staff said we had to go back down, I managed to grab plenty of images looking out into the town of Pisa and the surrounding structures there on the compound. Even after exiting the tower i finished off with a few more captures before taking the twenty minute journey back to the train station.

It was also a pleasant surprise that the train would be leaving for Livorno in only fifteen minutes from the time I got back to the platform. I was surprised that on the trip to Pisa and the trip back, that no one ever came up to see if I had a ticket. But I didn’t mind, since I wasn’t out for the free ride anyhow, and even if I had know, I still would have bought a ticket. The last thing I needed was to be put off a train in the middle of the Italian countryside for not having a ticket to ride.

When I got back to the Livorno station and made my way out to the street, I just happened to see Jonathan and Lori, my friends/clients that brought me on this European adventure) as they were in a taxi on the way back from a day of shopping in Florence. But if I had to, I would have easily managed to get on the right bus back to downtown and the port area. Of course the adventure on this day didn’t quite end when i got back to the ship.. it was just time to get some more memory cards and head back into town for adventures until midnight when we set sail again.