Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Touristy at the Tower of Pisa

Yesterday I got up early and got a bunch of work done which was a big relief for me.  While I may be on vacation, as a business owner I'm never truly on vacation.  With my work complete I felt I could move on to our adventure for the day.  The night before we decided that since we'd lost a day of travel by giving all of us a much needed day off to recoup, we would forgo another trip to Cinque Terre in favor of going to Pisa (to see the Leaning Tower of course) and then a beach in a small town called Tirrenia (as a reward for the kids behaving in Pisa).

Aidan wearing my sun hat which he looks quite cute in!

The kids were good on the way down - but overall are still constantly bickering which has become more annoying to the adults who have all paid a small fortune for this trip.  The kids just don't get it - stop needling each other and if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  It's really a very easy concept... yet they just don't seem to grasp it. 

In just about an hour and a half we got to the town of Pisa.  The town itself, what we saw of it at least, is a bit dumpy but the area by the leaning tower was cool.  The tower was in an area with a few other buildings but set off from the rest of the town.  So all the tourism seemed to happen in one area, which made it a bit crowded.  We tried to take cool pictures holding up the tower but were rather unsuccessful at it - we probably should have asked someone else (or anyone else - there were tons of people doing it) how to do it.  So in the end you can just be amused at our attempts instead.  Michelle, Kelly, Zach and Kelly were going to go in for a tour but there were none til 7PM!! 

The tower is in the background

You can get a better view of how it leans from here

We heard this building was used for baptisms

Aidan holding up the Tower

A giant Michelle holding up the tower - by far my favorite picture of the day

Antics on the lawn

More antics

I attempt to push the Tower back up as well

There wasn't a whole lot to do (not that we made much of an attempt) after seeing the tower and taking our pictures, so we went to lunch at a cute little trattoria near the square. Touristy yes, for sure. But it was also pretty good considering that fact. Only one small tantrum (ok, somewhat big where I had to remove him from the restaurant til he could calm down...all over milk) and the lunch went off well.

Liam with his bottlecap "guys" at lunch 

After lunch we were meandering thru the streets when we came across a multiperson bike rental place.  Michelle enthusiastically got us on board to rent it and off we went on another, silly, adventure.  And it was silly and a lot of fun.  I'm sure we looked mighty foolish going down the road but none of us really cared... ok, Zach cared, but at 12 years old, I would have cared too.  And because I am who I am, I was backseat driving from the bike as well - I think Michelle was going to toss me over the edge of the bike if I told her one more car was approaching from behind (there was no special bike path, we were riding in the town streets which were very narrow to begin with).  The kids all loved it and it was probably one of the highlights of our day.

Getting ready to take off on our bike

Cool building we saw along the way

Another cool building

After we returned from our adventures!

Before heading to Tirrenia, Michelle checked out the tours and I took Aidan and Liam to some shops.  It was here that I realized that while I've become slightly more city saavy, I'm still a typical tourist.  I bought the boys some toy trains that were made from letters in their names.  The sign said $0.50 per letter.  I did some quick (and I mean very quick) math in my head and figured that it would cost me under 10 euros for a train for each of them.  He put together the train and gave me a total in Italian, which I don't speak.  I handed him a ten and he put his hand out for more.  This is where the scam comes in - he takes the trains and tells me that the engine and caboose are each a euro instead of the 50 cents.  Ok, that's fine but I still can't see how it's more than 10 euros.  He does some quick, and I mean, scamming math.  He gives me the figure of 11 euros.  I only have 12 so I give it to him.  He gives me the sign of the cross and says thank you but gives no change.  I figure ah well, what's one euro. 

But I get back to our meeting place and Kelly (thank god she can do math) does the math and actually it should have been 8.50 euro not 11 or 12.  WTF???  I'm so pissed that I allowed myself to be scammed that I took the trains and went back to him.  I told him he owed me 3.50 euro.  He looked innocently at me and made the sign of needing to eat.  Now, I'm all for giving to others but when someone knowingly scams me, I'm sorry I don't give a shit if you need to eat.  So I told him to give me my 3.50.  He walks away and comes back with 1 euro.  By now I'm really getting pissed.  So I say no, you owe me 2.50 more.  He again tries to tell me he needs to eat.  But I'm annoyed and say no, 2.50.  He goes back to the back area and comes back with a .50 cent piece.  Seriously?  What are you not getting pal?  No, you owe me another 2 euros.  Finally after a lot of finagling I get my 3.50.  Then as I walk away a guy comes up to me trying to convince me to buy sunglasses - I'm used to these guys but I've already been scammed enough for one day.  So I tell him to look on my face, I'm already wearing them!!!  Ahhh tourism!

Around 5 we headed to Tirrenia but it wasn't as easy to find as we'd hoped and so we drove aimlessly for a little bit but it was worth it for the scenery.  We were now in the Tuscany region and the landscape was different than we left on the Riviera...huge mountains dotted the background (and we're pretty sure we even saw some snow on a few of them), while fields with sunflowers that stretched forever were in front of us and then rolls of hay bales that reminded me of the pictures you see of Tuscany - amazing!

We finally got to Tirrenia and tried to find a beach.  The first one was all white rocks, which was beautiful, especially with the sunlight glimmering off them, but not swimmable and we didn't see anyone in the water which was already looking pretty rough.  We finally asked if we could go into any of the beach clubs we saw that stretched all along the water with long driveways leading up to the beach.  Were they private or public?  We were told we could go to most any of them and that it was late and wouldn't be a big deal... so we went to the one closest to us and it was pretty cool. 

White rock beach

White rock beach...again

Final shot of the white rock beach

Most of these beach clubs have rocks that have been put up as barriers to the Mediterranean - and so the waves wash over them into a smaller beach area with beautiful soft sand.  The kids loved riding the huge waves and Liam played in the sand, creating "guys" from his shoes (Liam and his guys deserve their own entry, we'll get to that at some point)  And then once again we pissed someone off and we were told it was a private club.  Ok, we might not have pissed them off but they approached us and told us we had to leave.  And unfortunately the battery of my camera chose this beautiful beach in which to die so I only got a few pics which is a shame because the kids had so much fun riding the waves and I would have loved to have captured it on camera.

An example of one the clubs with the rock walls protecting the inner coves for swimming

The beach club we snuck into

The lifeguard...hunting us down

Liam by the water

Liam peeing in the water (yes this is becoming a habit - first the rosemary, now the Mediterranean!)

Aidan out in the waves

Liam all smiles

The timing was good though as it was dinner time.  We found a small little restaurant tucked away off the beaten path where we ate under umbrellas - the meal wasn't our best but most definitely wasn't bad either... but the kids were all tired and grumpy by now which only meant the adults became a bit tired and grumpy.  Thankfully the ride home was pretty uneventful and everyone went straight to bed to prepare for our last full day in Rapallo today.  Who knows what adventures are in store for us today!


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures and narrative. Thank you for allowing us to "ride along" on your journey.

    Safe travels and best wishes to the 3 bravest adults in Europe.

    Frank Conway