Leaving Florence was hard to do, but the journey must continue… to Siena, via Pisa.
This was the day of circumnavigating trains and tickets and lugging the luggage! An important note: the steps to get up on the trains themselves are steep (at least that’s what I experienced on the regional trains so far), so travelling with heavy cases is quite a task. But they give plenty of time at each stop and sometimes other travellers help too. Also on the regional trains there aren’t luggage racks, only overhead storage, so if travelling on a busy train (Florence to Pisa was, and this was at 10:30 on a weekday) finding somewhere to stuff your main case without being in the way was also an issue, unless you’re fine with an aisle seat. I wanted a window seat so I could take photos and vids, but I managed ok. You also need to validate printed tickets at the platform before boarding, which I did, but then noticed (luckily) that the platform had changed! But this wasn’t a problem when the train inspector checked my ticket, so I don’t think it matters which platform you validate the ticket at.
However I did order my breakfast at the station’s cafe, in Italian(!), and it was my first proper experience of being in one of their typical busy espresso-style cafes, which was pretty cool. In case you’re wondering, I had focaccia vegana. Yum.
Arriving in Pisa I left my main luggage, and the camera/laptop bag, with the left luggage facility. For both bags it cost 10 Euros, a bit more than I was expecting, but at least I could then walk the 20mins to the leaning tower of Pisa with just my handbag and camera. It was very hot there, hottest I’ve experienced on this journey so far and it wasn’t too busy at the tower. Seeing it was a bit unreal, and yes, there were lots of people doing the obligatory ‘leaning’ on the tower or ‘pinching’ the tower between their fingers poses for pictures! There was also a couple who had just married having their pictures taken which was cute, although when I stopped to photograph them, I got flanked by a number of others who also decided to do the same! This tends to happen quite a bit. I find a nice quiet spot with a good view and next thing I know, I’ve got people practically hanging off my shoulder trying to capture the same shot – or worse, standing right in front of me! I’ll do a separate post on this, with funny photos to prove it, but for now, here are some of the day.
I quite liked the town of Pisa, it was more charming than I thought it would be but was also happy to just spend an hour or two there before heading onwards to Siena. Popped into the only vegan eatery on my way back to the train station (Come Koala Vegan) and had a delicious, refreshing, freshly-made fruit smoothie from the lovely man who runs it. I would have taken some snacks or a wrap with me for later, as Siena doesn’t seem to cater for vegans too well, but I had no room to carry it and also still had my breakfast focaccia in my bag, going soggy.
The downside to Pisa was the beautiful horses stood in the scorching sun, attached to carriages waiting for customers to cart off around the town. A few people went up to pet them and I could see they too felt sorry for the poor, beautiful creatures. Please, please don’t do anything that involves animals carting you around, or have your pictures taken with tigers that have been drugged so you can sit safely with them and all the other touristy things like this. Its just totally unnecessary and these lovely animals have a crappy life just for their ‘owner’s to make a buck or two.
Aside from that, Pisa was good, worth a day trip from Florence or en route (have heard nearby Lucca is rather stunning too) but I was happy to be on my way to Siena.