[Sept 14, 2007]
So our next stop after Rome was Pisa, 4 hours away. You know there is ONLY one place where tour groups will go in Pisa, don’t you?
Unfortunately, that place is always very crowded, and there is no car park nearby, so our tour bus had to stop somewhere quite far away from the site, and we had to take a free feeder bus to get there.
Once we got off the feeder bus, we were greeted by Africans selling trinkets.
Seriously, I noticed there are really a lot of Africans in Italy. I have not seen that many black people in the previous European countries that we have just visited. In case there are some of you butt-hurt sensitive people reading this, this is not intended to be a racist remark, it is just an observation, like when we say there are a lot of Mexicans in Southern California, or when we say there are a lot of Chinese and Indians in Malaysia. There must be some history with this, history that I do not know of, nor am I interested to find out.
Anyway, the place in Pisa that we were going to visit, is a place surrounded by a wall. And the place is freaking crowded. Same old same old.
So the place, is called, the Piazza dei Miracoli [Square of Miracles]. In this plaza, there are three notable buildings. The first one, with that dome, is the Battistero di San Giovanni [Baptistry of Saint John]. The second one, in the middle, is the Duomo di Pisa [Pisa Cathedral].
Now, Paul did try to explain the significance of these two buildings, but none of us were paying attention, because… who are we kidding? The only building here that we are ever going to be interested in, is that one at the far end…
Torre Pendente di Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is very much like our very own Menara Jam Condong Teluk Intan [Leaning Clock Tower of Teluk Intan] here in Malaysia, except this one in Pisa is a bit taller, a bit bigger, a bit more tilted to one side, quite a bit older, and infinitely more famous worldwide. But apart from that, you know, very similar, very similar…
So, what do people do with this tilted tower? Well, isn’t the answer obvious? We take turns to take cliche photos with the tower, of course!
You might think this is a simple feat. Except the place is bloody crowded, everyone wants the same spot for shots, and everyone does not want to be photobombed here. So you need to queue and wait for quite a bit.
In fact, we spent so much time here, way more than Paul the tour guide had planned for us to be, like, an hour more than he had planned. He actually got pretty agitated and frustrated with us. To make matters worse, when we made it back to the bus station, we saw the feeder bus were just leaving. The next bus was scheduled for 30 minutes later, and the walk back to our own tour bus was about 20 minutes, so Paul made us all walk back to the bus.
When we got back to our tour bus, Steve the bus driver was nowhere to be seen. Apparently he got tired of waiting for us, so he went off by himself to have some coffee instead. So it was our turn to wait for him now. Paul was a very unhappy man that day.
Well, I guess we cannot really blame him. We were actually going to proceed to Firenze [Florence] to spend the evening and he had planned a nice walking tour for us in that city, but because our schedule got delayed by almost 2 hours in total, we couldn’t do that walking tour.
Instead, we were brought to this Piazza Santa Croce [Holy Cross Square],
to see this, Basilica di Santa Croce [Basilica of the Holy Cross].
And then it was really late, so that’s all we got to see in Florence before we went for dinner.
Now some of you might be curious as to why there is a lack of photos showing what we ate. The thing is, you see, the tour that I went on, because all of us were Chinese, we had this meal arrangement: free breakfast in the hotel, self catered lunch, and dinner in Chinese restaurants.
Chinese food in Europe, there is only one word to describe them: sucks. Which is why we hardly take photos of our dinners. You want to see how our dinner looks like? I’ll show you one now…
Now, this, is the entrance to the restaurant that we went to in Florence. It it wasn’t for that little red lantern hanging there, there would be no way anyone could know what this place is.
And then, the food…
Please don’t comment things like “Oh wow, looks absolutely delicious!”, because, they’re not. In fact, they’re absolutely crap! Most of the Chinese food that we had in Europe, they might look the deal, but they’re all bland, tasteless crap. Even in Italy, where food is supposed to be a big deal and everyone is a food expert, but apparently this expertise is not extended to Chinese food. It is like the concept of seasoning is totally alien to all Chinese restaurateurs in Europe. You know, most of the time I really just wanted to yell that Gordon Ramsay quote at them: “Cooking needs to backed up by salt and pepper! You need to have some form of seasoning in your food! You f**king donkey!”
Anyway, I have come to an end of my Pisa and Florence sightseeing…