Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chelsea in Pisa and Pontedera

Saturday, October 5

During the night, there was a huge thunderstorm. More like a lightning storm with huge amounts of rain. I woke up in the middle of the night and Martina was in the room shutting the blinds. She commented that it looked like the End of the World, and I must say, I agreed! I managed to fall back asleep after the room darkened again. However, the next morning I accidentally slept until 9:30am because of the dark room. Oops!

Dario had already left for work, so Martina, Romeo and I made a breakfast together of crusty bread, butter, and jam. Martina made me some warm milk with honey to help with my coughing fits that had begun (starting with allergies in my throat, then a stuffy nose, and now coughing...). It was delicious and really helped!

Martina offered to give us a ride into Pisa (where we were planning to go for the day), since she needed to go as well, so I hurried to get ready. We got into Pisa around 12pm, and Martina met her friend at the local market, and after browsing there for a bit, Romeo and I took off on our own. We headed towards the tower, and made a pit stop along the way for some cough syrup for my throat. When we asked for directions in Italian, I was very happy to realize that I understood a lot of what we were told (also in Italian). I guess Spanish classes really did help because Italian is quite similar!!

After getting some meds, we continued in the direction of the leaning tower. When it came into view, it was surreal. You've seen the photos, and sure enough, that's what it really looks like! But to see it, mostly just the top, as you're walking down an unassuming street in Italy, is strange.

A light rain was beginning to pick up (the day was very overcast), so we ducked into a restaurant for some lunch. We again had pizza, but this time I had 4 Formaggio (4 Cheeses). Romeo ordered something similar to what we had the other day.

When the pizzas came, I must say the four cheeses REALLY were four! Sounds strange, but I feel like every time I have something of the same name in America, it's just like extra cheese. It was very good, had some tang with a blu cheese in the mix, and I really enjoyed it.

After lunch, the rain let up and we headed to the tower. Of course we had to take the token perspective photos of pushing the tower over, or holding it up from falling, etc. We tried to get one with Romeo kicking it over, but the perspective was very difficult and I got frustrated. We decided to walk around, then I agreed to try again with some photos. Romeo was picky about his photos, so I eventually gave up.

Then we walked back to catch a bus to the train station. Amazingly, we figured out the bus line at the stop, but as the bus rolled up, we realized we should hhave gotten a ticket at a kiosk approximately half a mile away! We decided to just try to ask the driver if we could pay on the bus. When Romeo tried to ask in Italian, the driver looked annoyed but waved us on. We looked around for where we could pay but eventually found nothing, so we just sat down.

We got to the train station and bought tickets back to Pontedera so we could be back around 5pm. We found the correct platform and sat down to wait. The sign showed a 5 minute delay. Then it changed to 10 minutes... then 15. By the time it got to a 30 minute delay, I was annoyed and we had given up on being on-time. We finally got to Pontedera around 5:30. Then we had to walk to their house. We hadn't done it so far, so it was a test of Romeo's map reading abilities and internal compass. We made it back to their place fairly easily after about 30 minutes. By that time, though, I was exhausted!

We had a delicious dinner of boiled chickpeas with rosemary, baked potatoes and carrots with some spice that I couldn't figure out in English, and a tomato/mozzarella/tuna casserole bake. Martina is quite the chef! During dinner, Dario told us about a bar outside of town that has been around since WWII with the same owner. He hasn't even changed the tables or chairs; they are the same ones that German soldiers used when they visited the bar back in the day. When he asked if we wanted to check it out, the obvious answer was YES!

We piled in the car and headed there. Dario took a "long-cut" which he assured us was very scenic and beautiful...however, it was nighttime and raining, so it felt more dangerous than anything! However, we finally made it. It was nothing like an American bar. It was fully-lit, for one. It had about 5 tables, most of which we occupied by older Italians playing card games. Dario recommended a drink that had a bit of lemon rind, rum, and espresso. We can't positively remember the name of the drink, but we think it was Caffe di Livorno.

Romeo tried the drink, but I stuck with water (still fighting a cold), and we played some card games until midnight. I tried to get a photo of the 92 year old proprietor, but he wasn't too interested in chatting with us, even though he knew Dario well. Maybe he is skeptical of Americans; I have no idea. We headed back around 11:45pm.

Back at the apartment, we watched stupid YouTube videos for a while, and Dario taught us about some Italian singer back in the day that convinced Italy that he sang in English, but his lyrics were actually some made-up language, not English at all! The music video was hilarious.

We crashed around 1am with plans to get up and head back to Florence in order to catch a bus to our next destination: Nice, France.

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