Italy day 3: Cloudy day in Florence [YQrtw Day 29 May 6]

Florence Cathedral

Location: Pisa, Italy
Location: Florence, Italy

Breakfast at Hotel Moderno was a self-service breakfast bar. The layout was very cute. I gorged on coffee (even this cheap drink is so tasty here) along with a piece of toast slathered with butter.

Breakfast bar at Hotel Mordeno, Pisa

My train to Florence left at 11:11am. It was a non-stop service which meant that it was punctual and very fast. It took 49 minutes to get to the city, in contrast to an hour or so on the normal train.

The owner of the hostel I was going to stay at wasn’t at the station as she promised to. For 5-nights, I will be staying at a Chinese-run hostel 民宿, an accommodation I first discovered in Barcelona. I’ll write a follow of this type of hostel soon.

I called the aunty and she said she will come and pick me up. I waited a while before I saw a Chinese lady waving her hand at me. She immediately started talking about how we should start sightseeing a little before we go back.

I stored my bags with one of her Chinese friends who sell souvenirs opposite the train station. Then we went to a Chinese grocery store where we even used the bathroom.

It turned out that Aunty and her friend wanted to go shopping and I was tagging along. However, they did point out the good eateries and even introduced me to lampredotto (made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow, says Wikipedia).

Yummy cow stomach sandwich--lampredotto

I told them I would go and explore on my own so they can go shopping. For an hour, I circled the Florence Cathedral which was a piece of art from every single angle. From the photos, you can’t tell that the walls are pretty with green borders and flowers but up close, there is so much detail.

Florence Cathedral

While sightseeing, it started drizzling. I hid in the sidewalks of some of the closed shops, admiring the cathedral all the time.

I also popped into a makeup store and bought eyeliner. I have been travelling without eyeliner for almost a month! It’s time I get some clothes for my eyes.

When it was time, the other aunty picked me up. She showed me the way back to the hostel/house after we picked up my luggage. My backpack was so heavy that I felt that the girl from [spoiler!] Shutter was on my shoulders.

I was allowed to pick one of the free beds in the 6-bed dorm. I chose the one on the lower bunk because I like having a roof on top of me.

I met a newlywed Taiwanese couple after my check in. Later, they went shopping while I stayed in the house, drinking Ceylon tea, downloading Rick Steve’s audio guides and finishing my posts.

The dorm also has dinners for those who wish to eat in. Too lazy and cold to head out, I ate the meal. There was Chinese pig trotters (yummy) and a magically yummy bean-sort of stir fry.

Later in the evening, I met the other two Taiwanese girls in my room. One also quit her job but she was only travelling for 40 days in Europe. The other was studying in France for her last semester.

It’s quite nice getting to know people even though I’m some times antisocial.

Italy day 2: Pisa [YQrtw Day 28 May 5]

Leaning tower and friends

Location: Civitavecchia, Italy
Location: Florence, Italy

I took a morning walk in chilly Civitavecchia to warm up before breakfast at the bar behind the B&B. (Turned out the bar was closed today.)

When I found out that the bar was still closed, I headed back to my room and packed everything. The reason I suddenly became so interested in packing was that I wanted to delay going into a local cafe for breakfast. (It’s so scary!)

Anyway, I did visit the local cafe/bar called Bar Europa and ordered a cappucino and a pastry. Go me!

It wasn’t easy going there for breakfast since I am terrified of interacting with people. I had to dare myself to go to the place. “I’ll bet you don’t dare buy breakfast, you chicken!”

Breakfast in Italy

I wandered around aimlessly after breakfast. Thank goodness Civitavecchia has free Wi-Fi on the main street which I used to contact my family.

I did buy a SIM card but there was a BIG problem. Even though I bought my Italian SIM card from Wind yesterday evening, it wasn’t activated in the morning.

It wasn’t until 12 noon and a bit of fiddling by the man who sold me my SIM card that my phone started working. This is the longest I’ve waited in any country for my SIM to work.

Fast forward to after my check out and after my SIM card finally worked, I had Middle Eastern for lunch and went to wait for my train at the station.

Interestingly, my express train was on time. Yesterday’s slow trains to and from Tarquinia were both late by 10 minutes.

The view from the train was beautiful. There were meadows of wild flowers, puffs of sheeps grazing and even a view of the coast. It’s true that Tuscany is beautiful.

At around 3:50pm, we stopped at a station. I checked Google Maps which told me that we have 120km to Pisa. I didn’t think we could cross 120km in 20 minutes but miraculously, we did!

My hotel in Pisa is near the train station. I’m grateful for that because it means that I do not have to carry my heavy backpack (it has gained weight, along with me, after our cruise.)

Being the cheapo tourist that I am, I decided to walk from the hotel to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Thank goodness for Google Maps or I will be very lost while travelling.

The journey from the hotel to the tower was filled with cute old buildings. Almost 1 out of 10 people were walking their dogs. Six out of the 10 seemed to be tourists.

I didn’t turn on Google Maps while walking so I was a bit off course. (If this is the magical “getting lost” that travel pros tell us to do, I’d rather not have that much of it and get to my destination fast.) Being off course meant that my first view of the Leaning Tower was from its back.

I saw the tip of the tower first and giggled. Finally! I’m meeting the famous tower. When I saw the tower, I was surprised that it was bigger than I imagined. Usually, we see a faraway shot of the tower so seeing it being thick at the waist was a surprise.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The highlight of the area wasn’t the tower but the exhibition in the different buildings. The entrance to the four buildings (excluding going into the tower) is 9 euro but the things you get to see is worth a lot more than that.

There were carvings, frecos, tracings behind frescos, golden wine cups, tapestries, stone coffins, and many many more. The cathedral (which is free) has a most gorgeous interior.

My check list for Pisa was all ticked after the visit. Dinner was gelato and strawberries. I passed by a gelato shop and bought a cone with macademia (yums!) and coffee (hmm…).

Strawberries were on sale at a fair and I bought 3 packs for 5 euros. This was the second night I had strawberries for dinner.

Strawberries of Italy