European Tour – Day 3

16th April 2013

·         Checked out from the hotel after breakfast at around 8.30 am in the motor coach towards Pisa via Tuscan through the new Aurelia passageway. The route we took is almost (well almost) near the Tyrhannian sea. You can see the sea from a distance and when we cross the Tuscany region, you will see some lagoons. We stopped at around 10.45 am in a place in the entrance of Tuscan region for a coffee and snack break. We see the actual Tuscan region (the place of the rolling hills) only after the coffee break towards Pisa.  The route is scenic, but after some time I fell asleep just like everyone else. But got up in time for the break.  One the way we also see a very cute island Island of Elba where Napoleon was exiled along with the Island of Monte Cristo. They are very beautiful. Since we were travelling in the coach, I couldn’t take pictures.

·         When we reached Pisa at around 1.30 pm, I was wide awake and was determined to climb up if I don’t back out at the last minute. Our guide went through the rest of the program and also the significance of Pisa and the leaning tower, how they were restored around 2001 time because it was leaning out fast. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa , did you know that ? And the wooden nose boy Pinocchio was born here !!!! Seems like Pisa has a University which is the very oldest university and specializes in Science and Mathematics even now. The Square of Miracle which hosts the Leaning Tower is the main attraction of Pisa, even though tourism brings in a lot of money, they also have Livorno Port nearby which adds to the income and also have their own industries to cater to the economy. Its quite a huge and modernized city. We have to get down in a bus stand where all the buses are camped and we need to walk around for almost 5-10 mins to the square. But you also have an option to use a chug chug (a toy train) just like from the story of Pinocchio to go to the circle for one Euro. Since most of them were above 50+ we decided to take the chug chug (also because it was quite hot outside). Once they dropped us in the outside entrance of the square, we again have to walk around for 2 mins along the wall surrounding the square to the entrance of the square.  Both sides of the walk is covered with shops (just like you see in India) and eateries (including McDonald’s). But the grandeur of the Cathedral, the tower stuns you. They are so huge and so white. I never knew that the Tower of Pisa is built of Marble. My God… The view of all the three buildings with a huge lawn before them for the visitors to relax is so attractive. On the other side there are shops again.

·         This was one place where I saw a huge Indian group. I could see churidhar’s and salwars :). As and when I started to take photos, I realized that I had only 1.5 hrs and it would be better to get the climbing of the tower first if its going to take time. So I located the ticketing office and got the ticket for 2.15 pm with only 10 mins to spare. We are supposed to keep our bags in a locker room (which is quite modernized and they give you the card to open it). I took out my wallet and passport and the camera with me and off I went to get done with the climbing. I almost backed out seeing how tall it was, but then I didn’t want to regret not doing it just like it happened in Chichenitza. But I did not know what I had signed in for unless I went into the tower at 2.15 pm. It was so cold (remember it was built of marble) that I got the chills (literally). And they gave a small talk about the tower and said ‘off you go’. There were quite a lot of school students (around 25 per group) and they were going so casually. Here I was struggling to breathe even as I completed 25 steps. The steps are so narrow and small and steep, not to mention they aren’t flat, and I felt that it was leaning on one side, so I was getting dizzy. It got me scared for a second. I wasn’t sure if I will be able to complete it. Bloody hell, I rather regret it instead of losing my life here…that is what I thought… but for every level you have a space available to catch your breath. I am totally out of shape. Jeez… But slowly and steadily I took my time to climb up. Once you are up, you don’t feel that change of the gravity. Its like a flat surface. The top portion reminded me of the Hoover Tower in Stanford. The view of the whole city is so beautiful surrounded by the mountains. You get a very nice and gigantic view of the Cathedral from there. I started coughing up for quite a long time once I was up. It was definitely strenuous. No doubt about it. I never expected this level of steepness. After a few minutes up there and some good photo shoots, it was my time to climb down because I need my water otherwise I might end up coughing all the way down which is not  good. The cost of the ticket is 18 Euros (pretty costly) but they have maintained it very well.  After coming down, got my bags, had my water and started for the Cathedral. But it was already 3.10 and I was supposed to meet the group by 3.30 pm in the boarding point. So I couldn’t go inside the Cathedral because it was very crowded and instead walked back to get some food. This time for a change, got a milk shake and French fries (large) from McDonald’s and started eating and walking back to be just in time. Thankfully others took a few minutes longer and so I could finish my lunch and get ready for the chug chug to take us back to the bus. Hey!! I climbed on the top of the Pisa Tower !!!!!! 😉 Another new World Wonder seen. Way to go Girl!!!! (a pat on my back)

·         While on the way from Pisa to Florence (or Firenze) we were totally blocked due to a huge accident and that delayed our plans for the evening. We were supposedly to be ready for our own walking tour (to any piazza nearby) if the time permits after checking in the hotel. But by the time we came to our hotel it was around 9 pm and it was quite late. My feet was killing me so I did nothing  but have my vegetarian dinner and go to sleep around 10.30 pm.
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