Italianooo! I just can't even say Italy now without using my hands and moving my voice up and down in a singsong voice. First stop was to see the leaning tower of Pisa. Shockingly it really is leaning and much bigger than pictures portray! I have no idea how it hasn't fallen over yet and I wouldn't walk on the side which it is slanted towards. No way! Mind you, that would be one way to go out...oh ya, a massive tower just fell on me.
Once again, I was lucky to meet up with a Dutch friend who was on holidays in Italy, so I get to explore this country with a friend. I still love going solo in a city and just seeing who I will meet and where I can end up, but after months of that, I am happy to be share experiences with others. That, and most of the backpackers in Europe are young, 20 year old kids who are on their gap year. Good place to start traveling for someone because it is 'safe' and really easy. I still will always have a definite preference for Asia and South America though! Speaking of those countries, I've gotten used to just arriving in a town and always finding accommodation. Why is it everyone is so prepared in Europe? Geeze, I've had to learn the hard way that you really do have to book in advance here. Either that or don't come during high season. So, Annemarie and I leave Pisa, and arrive in a little town called Lucca. One of my favorite places so far in Italy because it is an old city where you can bike around on the top of the city wall!! Beautiful little place, and only one hostel....hence learning my lesson of booking in advance. So after that, we became all keen on being prepared, so we found a place online that was up in the mountains (which wasn't booked). Perfect, we'll take it! Turns out, this B&B is actually a castle from the 13th century and it was so remote, there is no cell service (not like it matters because I don't have a phone). It was run by a family, who all had what I call Cabin Fever. Maybe having so much tranquil space causes people to loose their marbles a bit. We were greeted by the mother, who on the 30 minute drive to this castle was muttering and before a corner would say in broken English "readdddyyy?? Vrooom!" as she took the turn in the road. Aside from the slightly wierd family, there is nothing quite like sleeping in a stone room amongst the mountains where all you see at night is fireflies. I have never seen fireflies, but they are SO magical! The entire hillside was sparkling like a tacky Ed hardy tshirt. Bad comparison but it was totally dark and you look out and just see bursts of light. Such an experience I will never forget! Oh ya, this castle had an abandoned village beside it, so you could wander through these crumbling stone archways and homes. I do feel this going back in time was a true show of the real Italy. This is what I search and pray for when I go to any new country, to see it through Gods eyes. And this experience was such a treat!
Another true Italian experience was going to the barber. Haha oh my oh my, I can officially cross that off my never to do list again! You think I would learn from my experience in Thailand with the orange hair... This time, all I needed was a trim, shouldn't be too hard to mess up right?! I stroll into the shop, which someone ended up being filled with old Italian men just staring slack jaw as the barber attempted to cut a females hair. I'll give him props for trying, but now my hair is a good inch longer on on side of my head, and 3 inches shorter than it was when I walked in. I watched as he kept hacking away and he knew it was a disaster, and the more he realized, the faster his scissors went chop chop. I eventually just had to say Stop (which thankfully is a universal language)! Well, either way, I don't have split ends anymore! The food here...mamma mia!! Holy moly, is it ever fresh and tasty! I have never consumed so much bread, cheese, pizza and pastas as I have here. My body has taken a beating during the past 10 months and is crying out for a vegetable or two. Speaking of my body taking a beating, I still love backpacking but there are moments where I look at my backpack and sigh (it's not a love sigh either). I'm getting to the end of my endurance. Ive slept in almost 100 different beds, and the thought of sleeping in just one is such a luxury! So, beginning of August my dirty, well traveled feet will be back on Canadian soil! In the meantime however, I think I'll fully embrace my remaining time here and have another slice of pizza
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