13 January 2008

Pisa Day One, Part 1

I’m a lemon!

Ok, so maybe being a lemon doesn’t sound like the most Italian thing to do, but it happened to Maggie, I promise.

On Thursday I spent almost the entire day at the Aeroporto Galilei in Pisa, wandering around (but not too far because of all of my bags) and people watching and seeing how far away I could walk from my bright blue suitcases before I started freaking out that maybe someone was going to take something out of them. I figured out that it was about 3 meters. So I got as close as I could to one of the computer screens that showed arrivals and just sat there and wrote and read and watched people walk in front of me.

Around 1645h I decided that Ariel and Maggie were going to be in soon. They had told me “around 1700” so I thought that my timing was good for having to gather all my dumb bags (minus my tying clip-y thingie, which, of course, I found once we were in the hostel later that night) and walk across the entire airport. No, it wasn’t that far. I just like making it seem far. The entire place, from end to end, was maybe the length of a soccer field, give or take a few pillars and TV screens.

I got over to where I had come in at 1030h that morning, which was seeming sooooo far away. I can’t believe I was in the airport that long. I think about it now and it didn’t seem so bad. I’m not sure how sad it is that I can entertain myself without being bored for over five hours. Probably pretty sad. At the Arrivals gate, I waited.

Waited. And waited. I waited for about an hour and a half. Apparently I should have paid more attention to which city they were coming from, because there was a huge monster time difference between the Frankfurt flight and the Amsterdam flight.

And then I made the mistake of looking around me at the other people waiting near me and accidentally caught the eye of a man standing next to me. Shortish, late 40s…bald. He had on a nice coat, though. I, of course, forgetting I was not in America, gave him the classic sympathy smile. No teeth, almost no smile, just a little stretching of the lips. The minute I did that, oh man. I was hitting myself in my mind. Just guess what happened. I’m standing there, in front of the gate, and I’m waiting for my friends, and staring at the doors, and he moves to stand next to me. Like, two feet away next to me. The Arrivals gate actually is a gate (almost), too. It’s a tinted glass automatic one-way door. You can kinda see through to the other side, but not really. The glass was tinted just enough that when you stood in front of it you could see yourself. As well as the people standing next to you. I must have stood there for about twenty minutes, watching him watching me. I actually thought it was hilarious, I don’t know what you think. Just the fact that this old guy was being sooo overtly creepy, and just staring right at me, and how uncomfortable I was, but I was so afraid to move somewhere else, because I didn’t want to miss Maggie and Ariel! Haha…

Luckily, the man’s son finally came. He had had a great trip, and had brought his dad a painting from London and the only problem he had run into was not having enough tape to wrap around it before sending it on the plane. How do I know this? They were French. Bien sûr.
The plane from Amsterdam came a little after 1800h. I was so hungry. The three of us gathered our bags and got a map from a woman at the hotel reservation desk (no, we didn’t use her, we had made reservations online already). It was dark outside, and our bags were pretty heavy. And by “pretty,” I mean “very” and “extremely.” It was only about a ten minute walk from the airport to the Hotel Moderno, a straight shot, really. But I was carrying my purse on one shoulder, my carry-on bag, which was easily ten pounds, across my shoulders, and rolling my 49.8 pound suitcase behind me. Ariel had her rolling suitcase, her backpack, and my laptop. Maggie had my other, 34 pound rolling bag, and her 40 pound monster backpack. That’s a lot of weight to be lugging around. Of course the first three things we ran into were sharp turns, a hill, and steps. Oh, the steps. We crossed the bridge, turned the corner, and stopped. Stairs. Lots of stairs, all going down.

The hostel was really nice. We tossed our bags down and sat on the beds. I loved the beds. I was so ready to just lie down and go to sleep…but instead we put our shoes back on and headed out into the fresh air. The, uh, very fresh air. For some inexplicable reason, the air in Pisa often smelled like the air in Greeley. Not for a really long time, but for long enough for me to sniff it and say to myself, “Oh, Pisa.” Maggie and Ariel weren’t hungry, but we stopped at a little café and I got a sandwich and we talked for a long time. Dur. We hadn’t seen each other for so long, what else could we do?

One thing you don’t really realize when you think of all these cities is how close everything actually is. I mean, all we have to base our ideas on are American cities, really, unless you’ve traveled around the world a lot, which we haven’t. But everything is just so close! It took maybe half an hour to walk to the leaning tower, whereas on the map it looked like it would take at least an entire hour, if not more. I love the cars here. I already knew that they were going to be small, dur, it’s Europe, that’s how it goes here. But it’s actually seeing mini coopers and VW golfs everywhere that makes me grin. We freak out now when we see anything larger than the size of a Jeep. And the mini delivery trucks, seriously. How could those not make you happy for at least a few seconds?

The next day (Friday, also yesterday for me) was our day to wander around Pisa, see the sights. Yes, the leaning tower is just as mini as the cars. I think most people picture it as a skyscraper. It’s not. It’s tiny. Oh, I almost forgot the best part.

So there’s this thing in the world called a time change. Most people get the hang of it pretty easily. Most people. Not us, apparently. The three of us have been having so many problems with time, it’s pretty much ridiculous. Thursday night we were laying in bed, trying to figure out how much time we wanted to give ourselves to sleep. My phone had died while I was in the airport, so I had turned it off. When my phone is off, I tend to forget that I actually still own it. So Ariel had her phone out and plugged in and we were going to use it to set our alarm. But because her cell is only set up to have service in Israel, it doesn’t automatically update the time like it normally would (my phone had done the same thing to me, I had to change the time manually once I knew what time it really was. So we decided to turn on the TV and find a channel that said the time. We did. It said 2111h. That was two hours ahead of Ariel’s phone, and we wanted to wake up 8 so we could be ready and eating by 9 and down to the tower by 10. So we were two hours ahead and we wanted 8 then it would’ve been six on her phone…well….in the end we got up and ready and ate and everything and got to the Leaning Tower of Pisa a little after 8. Eight o’clock in the morning. Eight. In the. Morning. The problem with figuring out what time it is in Pisa is that there aren’t any clocks anywhere. And when you can actually find clocks they will all have different times on them. At the tower we were really happy that there was practically no one there. We took a lot of pictures and there was no one in the way. And then we started getting tired.

“What is wrong with us? Why are we so tired?” And then we stopped and thought about it. No one by the tower. No one else at breakfast. Tired. … oh. Oh, that is why.

And now I need to take a break....the rest of Pisa is coming soon!!!!

1 comment:

Dave said...

i sent you a letter a few days ago
it should be awaiting you in France
i hope all is well

dave