Monday, April 13, 2015

Listening, Looking and Leaning

After several weeks playing involuntary hooky from the blogosphere, I am finally returned in full force, ready to tell my epic tales of absurdity and adventure. To begin with, my most recent holiday to grand Italia.

First of all, I have what could be considered a rather unfortunate and irrational fear of flying.... As a rule, I exclusively worry about things I have approximately zero control over. Since a fear of the soaring skies has been passed down from my dear mother to my sisters and myself, I have only been able to temper it by an inherent thirst for travel. The destination is abundantly worth the effort, despite the fact that most of the flight is spent listening to the sounds of the engine to determine function and watching the nuanced facial expressions of the flight attendants to gage their level of calm versus panic. The recent German plane crash into the French alps did absolutely nothing to help, especially when we were casually flying over the same mountain range and I felt us flying precariously closer and closer to the great snowy peaks.

Needless to say, I made it to Pisa airport after an anxiety pill, a glass of wine at 8am, and less than two hours of fitful fretting. The good news is that I was able to have my first outstanding Italian cappuccino while waiting for my cousin at the airport, and the weather was so blissfully accomodating as we pranced through the streets, that all previous thoughts of catastrophic death soon went sailing away with the wind. We purposely chose to land in Pisa because it is notoriously cheaper to fly into that airport instead of Florence, which is only about an hour away. Pisa is also very much known for housing the infamous Leaning Tower and.... well, pretty much nothing else. Our plan was to see the rising landmark, feast on some afternoon Italian fare, then hop our train to Florence for our first night of fun.

I have in fact already been to Pisa, circa over ten years ago when I was studying abroad in London. My amazing friend who traveled with me is one of my oldest and best from college. We did the same thing at that time too, taking some shots of the building, then continuing on to the bigger city. Those pictures, however, are sitting somewhere in an old box in Connecticut, so I can't say I am disappointed to have a fresh set of photos to share. The day was bright and clear, infectious in its warmth. We took the obligatory pics of the tower, trying to hold up the leaning facade, trying to push it back into position, etc... The biggest challenge was actually trying to navigate around the dozens of other tourists vying for exactly the same shot. When we finally had our fill of the landscape, we made way to a restaurant my father recommended from when he was traveling through Italy. It was very conveniently located, good prices (one can always count on Travel Agent Dad to scout out the deals) and I was delighted to commence my Italian smorgasbord with a piping hot plate of gnocchi... and our first caraffe of wine.... followed by coffee... followed by gelato. This would essentially be our daily routine for the next week. Thank goodness for the vast amount of walking we would engage in over the following days or I sincerely believe we would have had to roll ourselves back home.

From there, we sauntered back to the train station where we collected our bags and awaited our transportation to the Renaissance capital of the world, Florence.

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