**Warning: Many photos & long post!**
Last week, we were in Italy for a couple of days. We flew to Florence and also visited Pisa. This post is part 1 of our trip.
We were taking an afternoon flight, so we went before lunch to Helsinki airport. We had lunch at the sports bar/restaurant in Terminal 2 – O’Learys. They used to have a veg burger option but not anymore. The only veg option was Quesedillas. Since we both are quite fond of quesedillas, we went ahead and ordered it. It looked quite promising!
4 quarters of quesedillas on a bed of iceberg lettuce with some salsa, cream and avocado mash. The stuffing in the quesedilla was small bits of onion, tomato and cheese. You know how it is said that airport/airplane food sucks – this one fits the bill perfectly! Sure it was edible, but it didn’t taste like ‘real’ quesedillas.
After lunch, we browsed the duty free shops and bought some Finnish chocolates for someone we will be meeting in Florence. The airport was buzzing with activity – holiday season. Our flight was fully booked. We haven’t traveled in Lufthansa for nearly 2 years. So the moment I got in the flight I was surprised by the super slim seats. I had to take a quick photo!
But, they were comfortable enough for our short flight. We had a 1 hour layover in Frankfurt. On the connecting flight, for the first time ever for me, our flight was diverted to Bologna since it was quite windy at Florence. After two tries of landing at Florence Peretola airport (Amerigo Vespucci airport), the pilot said we will be flying to Bologna (which sounded like Poland or something, partly because of his strong Italian accent and partly because of my nauseous self). Only when we landed and I saw Bologna written on one of the buildings, I realised where we were! We waited for an hour to get our check-in baggage and to get on a bus to Florence. We were dropped off at Florence airport and then took a taxi to our hotel. That was the only little adventure (if it can be classified as one!) we had, rest of the trip was normal.
On day 1, we had tickets to climb up the Leaning tower of Pisa. So, we took a train at about 8 in the morning from Florence to Pisa. The journey was about 1 hour 15 minutes. We could take tickets at a kiosk or ticket vending machine or at ticket office. It was a regional train which means tickets once bought have a validity of upto 2 months and can be used on any regional train in that route. But before we got into the train, we have to validate it at a machine near the platform. When you insert the ticket, it punches the date onto your ticket. Here is ours:
On our way to Pisa, no conductor came to check our ticket but there were 4 of them on our return train from Pisa. The journey was pretty scenic. There were lots of sunflowers and small vineyards.
We were at the Leaning tower by 10 am and there were already so many people! Before we climbed up the tower, we had to put everything – including purse/handbags in a cloakroom nearby. Cameras/water bottles were allowed. Felt strange to leave everything but once we got climbing the stairs, it seemed like the right decision!
There are about 300 steps on a spiral stairway to reach the top. The total time of the visit is about 30 minutes. We had to take a couple of breaks near the windows. I am so glad we chose to go up! The views were beautiful and feeling of standing on top of the leaning tower is simply wonderful 🙂
There were huge bells on the top.
There was some construction work going on at one end of the cathedral. There were lots of people taking the customary photo – reaching out or holding or pushing or eating the leaning tower. We had lots of laughs looking at all the other posers with their hands & legs stretched out until they got the shot right! We also took the customary photo with TH pushing or ready to hold the tower. You decide! 😉
Then there was the fallen angel!
We went into the Cathedral but didn’t go into the Baptistry. Then, we bought some postcards and magnets as souvenirs from Pisa. We walked around the train station for a little while, had lunch and took a return train to Florence.
More about our remaining trip will be in my next post, Italy – Florence.