Italy: Planes, Trains and Flip Flops

Now that I am back home and back at work - thus back to boredom, I can write about Italy a little.

The Trini saying of cheap ting nah good rings true when one thinks of Ryanair. Without a doubt, this was the worst flight of my life, beating back even Tobago Express. I mean, not only was the check in annoying, but the constant hawking of Ryanair related products and services throughout the 2 hour flight was beyond intolerable. Travel tip: Take your MP3 player with you on any cheap airline service. You will need it.

When we landed in Pisa, it was supremely hot and I was glad I had dressed for the weather and packed for it as well, by which I mean, one small bag and no load. The sacrifice of leaving behind makeup, lotions etc was much appreciated at that point. Italians though are not very good with instructions or directions. Signage at this little airport was preposterous and as friendly as the ticket lady was, she did not fully explain that I needed to change trains when I bought my train ticket for the commute from the aiport to Florence. So while my ticket said Pisa Airport to Florence, nowhere did it say, train will change at Pisa Centrale. So there I am, sitting, chilling my heels waiting for the train that says Airport to Florence, when I should have been looking for Airport to Pisa Centrale. So the train is sitting there, I am looking at it - me and my fellow tourists with similar tickets in hand - and we are all clueless that this is our train. But I dunno what it was that made me go to the train conductor and ask, and sure enough, this was when I learnt that we needed to take this train to Pisa Centrale and then change to the train to Firenze. I swear, communication is a helluva thing.

The other bad thing about the cheap airlines is that they fly to the Pisa Airport which is about 90mins away by train from the city centre, and there is not much to see on the way in, except run down neighbourhoods as is to be expected around any rail line. But once we got to Florence, and I walked out of the station, there it was - beauty and magic. The beautiful old world city of Florence or Firenze.

Now I am really challenged when it comes to reading maps and the like cause somehow I always end up going the wrong way, so it took me a little while to find the hotel, and by the time I did, I was hot and greasy. I chuckled to myself as the receptionist at the Hotel Nuova Italia took one look at me and decided I could not be a guest at HER hotel at all. When I confirmed that I was indeed staying there, she grudgingly passed over my key. My own reflection made me laugh - wild airplane hair, smudged mascara, etc. I just looked like something the cat dragged in so I quickly did a makeover so by the time I flounced down the stairs all fresh and diva-esque the receptionist's heart was lifted cause I know she was probably nervous that she had let some street person into the place. lol. But the hotel was lovely. The best service ever, and spotless rooms, great bath products which I appreciated since I was dreaming about my Bath and Body Works gels, lotions and spritzes all on my dresser in London.

I spent the next few hours traversing the cobble stoned streets of Florence, in my flip flops, amongst a throng of tourists. The Japanese tourists, my arch nemeses of travel, were out in their numbers. It's like they are on every single vacation with their cameras, taking photos of every insect, every stone, every blade of grass. lol. Gotta love their enthusiasm though. I virtually mapped out where I would go the next day and then sat my weary ass down on the steps of the Duomo, with a tiramisu gelato. As my coffee tinged milky goodness ran down my arm in the searing heat, the old dude next to me decided it would be as good a time as any to try to make his move on the cute black girl next to him. I got every positive English word he could muster, and a dinner invitation to his house for pasta. Sadly for him, he was too old, and his teeth too black from tobacco to make a good impression.

I went back to my room to wash the sticky ice cream off my hands and then consulted my brand new friend, aka the receptionist, who now thought I was unique and stunning and was ever so eager to help, on where to go for dinner. I eventually ended up at the little place just outside the hotel door, Trattoria Antichi Cancelli, where I had bruschetta, lasagna and a lovely red wine. Highly recommend the food here, coupled with exceptional service.

I went back to my room, took a long long hot shower and then got to bed cause the next day was all about Uffizi, and walking across the city.

5 comments:

  1. Oh wow! How exciting! : ) What an amazing trip! I can't wait to hear more!

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  2. My hubby and I are considering a trip to Italy, so it's great to read the experiences and perspective of someone who's been.

    Stopping in from SITS!

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  3. I like reading about people's experiences on trips. You find out a lot of wonderful tidbits you'd never read in travel journals - the truth, too! So glad the receptionist chilled or no telling where she would have sent you for dinner!! Visiting from SITS!

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  4. We had the most fabulous time in Florence with our two foodie kids in 2008. Love reading about other peoples's Italian adventures. My kids are still asking to go back - oh so tempting.

    Congrats on your SITS day and good luck with your post grad work in London.

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  5. Can i live vicariously through you? I want to do all the traveling you are doing. you may not feel like it's a lot, but exploring Europe for more than just a tourist trip is my dream!

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