**Pictures to be added on wifi that can support uploads
From Rome, we are traveling to Tuscany, with a stop over in Pisa. Pisa is a really small town, which is made famous from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were told, it leans about 1 cm more each year. The government in Pisa attempted to stop the process, but ended up making it worse and it leaned 6cm that year. The Italian government has not forbidden any efforts to stop the leaning, and it is projected to fall in the next 200 years. At the moment, they still allow visitors to climb the tower, although it is about a 2 – 3 hour wait to do so. There is also a Duomo and a Composanto where you walk on the tombs which make up the floor.
In Pisa, after seeing the tower, I chose to go off by myself for lunch and have some much needed alone time. As much as I love traveling with a group and experiencing with other people, I also appreciate some time by myself to sit and reflect and take in the culture. I had a really great meal of risotto with asparagus and a glass of sparkling house wine and then finished off with an espresso. The coffee in Italy is so good! Mid-meal, two women sat down next to me and we started to chat over the menu. One of them was traveling from Turkey to visit a friends, the other with her husband from Singapore. They had met each other on the train and decided to meet up for lunch. I pretty much ended up joining them for lunch as we even shared a bit of our meals. I really enjoyed the lunch and the conversation.
What is funny about this, is two years ago, I had posted on Facebook about having lunch with a stranger, thank you Facebook memories. It is these random interactions that bring me great pleasure, and sometimes lead to great friends. One of my traveling partners in Australia once said to me, “You talk to everyone… I mean everyone!” and I think that is still probably very true. It is one skill that I am always very appreciative of that I can do. Sometimes it takes these moments when you are alone and maybe outside your comfort level to have these interactions. I most likely have my dad to thank for this skill, as he is pretty well the same way! Thanks Dad!!
From Pisa, we headed to Viareggio, where we would have base camp for the next 3 nights. Viareggio is a beach town that leaves a lot to be desired. The hotel is nice enough, but the beach is just okay. However the hike from the train station to the hotel was a long, hot trek, that left most of us regretting any extra item in our pack. It is in these moments where you are calculating what you can put in the bin to reduce the weight of your packs.
As soon as the bags were dropped, swim suits were put on and we headed to the beach. Most of the beach in front of the hotel is private and you have to pay for a chair, which can be quite pricey. There is a small section of free beach at the end near the pier, that is not a very nice section. We were warned to only bring towels, as anything else would likely be stolen, so we set down our towels and cloths, and headed to the water. This would be the first time I swam in the Mediterranean sea, and it was nothing to write home about. The water was nice and warm and once you got out far enough, it was nice enough, although it was very much like home, as you could not see a whole lot through the water. The whole coast line, however, was saturated with sea weed that made the water undesirable. I will save you all the description, but it was the first time I ever literally gagged when entering a large body of water. I made one of the girls I was with go out until there was no more seaweed, and then I just looked straight ahead and practically ran out to where she was. I had the same strategy coming in, but in the end it was worth it, because it was so nice to just float in the water.
After swimming, we went to find the laundromat. This proved to be quite a frustrating exercise, and led to two bottles of wine being consumed while finally doing the laundry. What should have been a 10 minute walk turning into a 45 excursion. I am thankful for the friends I have made, as they made what could have been a frustratingly disastrous night, into one filled with laughter, with the help of some delicious wine. I have never been much of a wine person, but when in Italy, and the wine is cheaper than the water, you drink it! And I must admit, I have had some really good wine.
With the help of 3 woman, from America, Canada, and Sweden, who are all here for their 4th and 5th year of Italian school, we not only found the laundry mat, but also an amazing place for dinner. It was probably one of the best dinners I have had this far.
Today had it’s highs and lows, but it ended on a high note. When it comes to food, today was a great day. Tomorrow we are off to Cinque Terre and I am beyond excited.
Thought of the Day: a laundromat is a lot more fun with friends and wine. I am not sure how well this would go in the US, but I highly suggest it. When you find yourself in a situation, where you can either laugh or cry… find a way to laugh. I am sure when I look back on this experience, it will be a funny story.