Italian Adventures Have Begun

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May 16th 2015
Published: May 16th 2015
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Eno has arrived!

Today was a fun day - not much in the way of excitement, but still a good day. My train left Lecco at 7:59 AM, and I arrived in Milan 45 minutes later. I had 2 hours to kill, and my bag really wanted to take a stroll, since he usually only gets to see stuff between the train station and the hotel. So I obliged. He has a name, now - Bjørn Ironside, after the character from Vikings. He's been through a lot and hasn't shown much wear and tear at all. We walked to the end of the road in front of the train station, next to the big garden there. Bjørn really wanted to see the Porta Nuova, one of the old gates to the city, so we took a side trip over there, where I snapped a picture of him in front of the Porta Nuova. He felt better, and so we walked back to the train station. On the way back, we ran into some Clemson folks who complimented my UGA fleece jacket.

My next train turned out to be NOT my next train. I hadn't paid for the fast train to Parma, which I thought was the correct train. I had put my stuff on there, but when I asked the conductor before we left if this was the right train, he said "no," and that I needed a slower, regional train. But I looked it up, and the next regional train that I could take wouldn't leave until after 2PM. It was now 10:30AM. I couldn't lose 4 hours today. He told me I could pay for this ticket on the train, so I decided to suck it up. It was going to be 20-25€, so I just accepted my fate. But the conductor never came through the cabin. The trip was just over an hour, and I basically got a free train ride.

The next 2 rides were nothing special. The first one lasted less than 20 minutes. The second was uneventful for the first half - I had been told I would need to change trains again, but when the conductor came through the cabins - the first time that has happened in all my time in Italy - he said that the train actually went all the way to Pisa, and I could just stay on it. I wanted to believe him. But when we got to my supposed stop, he was nowhere to be seen, so I got my things and got off the train. I supposedly had 5 minutes between trains, but when I got my bags down the stairs and to the departures board, the platform number for my new train was changing - to the platform that I had just left! It turns out, the train changed numbers at this station, and there really was no need to leave it at all. So I went back up the stairs and got in the first train car I came to. After we left the station, an Italian guy named Davo, in his 20s, decided I needed to be entertained. So he started talking to me about Italy, archaeology, blues music, and anything else he could think of. His English wasn't that good, but he was trying. Most of the time, I just nodded. He talked about some girl from Mississippi, and how he normally didn't have a ticket for any train he took, which had gotten him in trouble from time to time. He also talked about his lack of steady employment, and he did look a little down on his luck, but I was really hoping he wasn't just engaging me in hopes of getting some money. But after 20 minutes or so, he got up, announced we were at his stop, and shook my hand before he walked off the train.

I made it to Pisa around 4 PM, and after walking to my hotel (which was a great way to get an overview of the city), I decided I would relax until Eno arrived. She told me she would be here at 8 PM, so I got things arranged in the room and watched bad Italian TV. On my way back to the train station, I caught my first up-close glimpses of the Leaning Tower and Duomo as the sun was sinking. I've included some pictures here, but I'll get some more tomorrow when the sun is fully up. I managed to find a cool little stand where the guys were selling their own pizza-type things - it looked like a baguette cracked along the top and filled with tomato sauce mixed with cheese. Whatever it was, and however they made it, it was good. When Eno got here, she said she was hungry, so I recommended stopping back by there. She agreed with my judgment about the pizza. Maybe they'll be back there tomorrow? It will be Sunday, so we'll have to see. I took her by the Tower and Duomo on the way back.

It's good to have a travelling companion again, for the next 9 or 10 days. We've got a lot to see and do, as well as some relaxation. It should be a great time. Plus, it's Italy.

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