I’d like to start this post by saying thank you to those readers of my blog who crossed their fingers for good weather for us today. It helped! I’d also like to shame those people who didn’t cross their fingers because we definitely still got rained on. :p Despite that, today was still a great day!
We made our early-morning wakeup call and got to the meeting point at the appointed time of 7a – ugh! Counting our guide, there were ten of us in the group, which is great size because it’s not too big or too small. We caught our first train of the day, which took us to Pisa. Everyone knows about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, right? Take note – that’s about all there is to see in Pisa! To be fair, the tower is in a square that also includes a cathedral, a baptistery, a cemetery, and a museum (for more info, check out the website for the Piazza dei Miracoli, where all this is located). Take note that you have to get a ticket for everything in the piazza, so make sure you visit the ticket office first. We had about 1.5 hours to look around and visit whatever we wanted and I would say that was the right amount of time. Any less than that and you may not get to do/see everything (especially if you’re going to climb the tower) and any more than that and you’ll likely run out of things to do. You can get into the cathedral for free, but the baptistery, the cemetery (called the Campo Santo), and the museum cost €5 each and the tower costs a slightly-insane €18. You can mix and match entrance fees into the different attractions at a discount though. For example, we opted for the baptistery and the Campo Santo for a total of €7. We did think about going up the tower, but it’s over 200 steps and I don’t think the view of Pisa from the top would be that great (especially in poor weather, like today), so that, coupled with the high price, made us decide not to do it. We did, however, take the requisite pictures of us “holding up” the tower. And we enjoyed the other things we went into there. Although it seems like a touristy thing to do, be sure to do the fun photos! It’s part of the allure of going to Pisa. 🙂 Weather-wise, we were lucky for this part of the day – it wasn’t raining at all while we were in the piazza! It was definitely cloudy, but I was happy that we were able to see everything we wanted to without getting rained on.
Next stop – Cinque Terre! This is a collection of five small villages, currently accessible only by train (there’s a main trail that you can use to walk to all the villages, but that’s currently under construction until at least 2014). They’re cute, quaint, have some amazing views, and are right on the coast, next to some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen (even on an overcast day like today). Unfortunately, the rain started on our train journey to the villages from Pisa, but we still kind of lucked out in that the rain was pretty off-and-on, which allowed us to get some great pictures and still enjoy the sights. We only went to three of the villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernassa), but that was still an awesome experience. The views are outstanding! And the towns are dotted with cute bars, restaurants, and shops. Since some of them were closed because of the weather, I’d love to go back again sometime when the sun is shining and everything is open! Based on our experience today, it was a great idea to do this with a guide, especially one who focused primarily on getting us from A to B and then let us do our own thing until it was time to move on. Travel tip – if you want to do a short visit to the Cinque Terre, I highly recommend Tuscany on a Budget. Our guide’s name was Alex and he said he’s the only one who does this tour for that company, so definitely look into this for your own day trip! Although it’s a long day, I *highly* recommend this trip if you’re going to be in the Florence area and you’re looking for something to do. Alternatively, you could spend a few days in the Cinque Terre as there are a number of hotels and guesthouses there. No matter how long you’re there for, you’ll enjoy it!
Check out the pics below!
We had a nice time on the train journey back from the Cinque Terre. We were sitting and chatting with our guide and three of the people from our tour (one from China and two from Australia). We had a great conversation, which just shows how you can randomly meet really cool folks on day trips like this.
That’s all for Italy! Well, almost anyway. We fly out to London tomorrow, but not until 215p. That works out perfectly because it means we don’t have to get up early, so we’ll be able to sleep in a bit to make up for today’s pre-6a wakeup call. Travel tip – make travel a bit easier on yourself by not taking really early flights/train journeys/etc. After all, no one likes waking up to an alarm on vacation, right?
Even though I’ve been to London a number of times, I always look forward to it! Not only will I get to see friends that I don’t get to see often enough (we’re staying with friends of mine there as well as seeing some others), but I also love the vibe I get from London every time I’m there. It’s sad to think that the start of our time in London also marks the start of the end of this awesome trip! But I’ll think about that more when we’re on the plane home. 🙂
See you in the UK!