Monday, June 23, 2014


After struggling to purchase our train tickets to Pisa and experiencing our first encounter with gypsies, a caring lady from Australia kindly told us which platform the train was leaving from. At this point there was a 50/50 chance that we were going to get to the train on time, which meant a 50/50 chance of us making it to our prepaid Leaning Tower tour. We literally ran with ticket in hand to our train. Our ticket was stamped at 9:26. The train left the station at 9:28. We made it with 2 minutes to spare!!  We still had a chance of getting there in time for the tour!

Once we arrived in Pisa we learned that the ‘walk’ to the tower was much farther than expected so we needed to take a bus to get there in time. Now…... to buy bus tickets. Oh geez! This meant going back inside the train station and trying to find the bus tickets counter. Time was not in our favor at this point. We had come to the realization that we were going to miss our scheduled tour time and not be able to walk up the 297 steps of the tower. We were okay with that, we would still get to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa which would be amazing enough. 

Finally, the bus tickets were purchased but then we couldn’t figure out which bus to get on. (It sounds as if I’m making this up but this is how the entire trip went ha!)  We tried to ask a few people for help but because of the language barrier we weren’t very successful. At one point a sympathetic Italian man tried to help us by pointing and saying “Hotel! Hotel! Go! Go!” He was pointing at the hotel across the street which made no sense to any of us. We assumed he didn’t understand that we wanted to go the tower of Pisa. “Si, Si, Hotel! Hotel!” he said. He kept getting louder and pointing in an imposing way which didn’t help me understand him any better. Kind of freaked me out actually. 

After several minutes of this lopsided conversation we realized he was telling us the bus stop was across the street in front of the hotel. Ah... okay, now we understand!

As we are waiting for the bus to arrive a young Japanese couple asked us if we were going to the Leaning Tower and we told them we were. “Can we follow you?” they asked in broken English. This  made us all laugh because if they wanted to follow us then they really were lost! Ha!

We all boarded the bus and headed in what we hoped was the direction of the tower of Pisa. The bus ride conversation was about how disappointed we were about not getting to the tour in time and how we should have bought tickets the day before and how we didn’t know we needed to take a bus and blah blah blah. At a random bus stop a gentlemen in front of us says,"You want tower, get off now.” We didn’t even think about it – we just jumped off the bus! Thank you Mr. Eavesdropping Gentleman! If it weren’t for you who knows how long we would have ridden that bus.

As soon as our feet hit the ground the bus sped away. Oh wait! What about our Japanese couple? Did they get off? We don’t see them anywhere. :( Shoot, hopefully they have their own person that is listening in on their conversation and helps them find the tower. 

We walk a very short distance and the Leaning Tower of Pisa comes into view. We check the time. We have a few minutes before our tour starts! We may possibly be able to make it after all. RUN! And once again we are running to see if we can get there in time. 

I see the line!

I think we’re going to make it!

Yes!! We made it!! With minutes to spare!

Excuse me ladies but you can’t take any bags into the tower,” we hear someone say. We don’t have any bags, just our purses so he can’t be talking to us. “No bags are allowed in the tower,” he says again. He IS talking to us! Are you kidding me? What are we suppose to do with our purses? He instructs us that we’ll need to put our purses in lockers in the building ‘over there’. 

Seriously? We have literally minutes before this stinking tour starts and we have to get to that building, check in our purses and get back here before the tour begins? 

We are not about to miss this tour NOW! So guess what? We start running toward the check in building! Thank goodness there wasn’t a line and check in went easily and we were given a ticket to collect our stuff after the tour. (Although we all felt very uncomfortable about leaving our purses, wallets, passports, etc etc with total strangers.)  We did it, let’s go! Back to the line for our tour!    Made it!

We get inside the tower and my sister, Shelley, says to me,” I don’t know if I can do this.”

“What?” I ask.

I’m pretty claustrophobic and I don’t know if I can go up those stairs,” she says. 

"Are you kidding?" Jess says. "How have you survived anything on this entire trip?"   how funny. :)

I know what it’s like to be claustrophobic so I told her to give it a try and if she doesn’t feel like she can, then don’t put herself through it.

We let everyone in our group go ahead of us so we were the last four people up. Katie says that she needs to be the very last because she’s so claustrophobic. Hello? Can anyone say CRAZY AMERICAN LADIES IN PISA? 

Shell and I take two steps up and she says, “Nope, I can’t do it. I’ll just meet you when you’re done,” and she’s out of there. 

Katie, Jess and I head up. 297 Steps – we can do this.

It’s a little tricky. You’re walking up an already leaning tower and the steps are seriously uneven and wavy. It is an odd feeling. The climb is a bit dizzying actually. The stair case is narrow enough that I can easily put a hand on each side to steady myself which I was thankful for. We are nearing the top and we come out on a landing where a guide meets us and tells us we’re almost there. The next set of stairs is very narrow and I’m a little unsure if I can go in it. I ask, “Does this widen out once you’re inside?” 

“No not really,” she answers honestly. “But there’s only 30 steps to the top.”

Jess is heading back down through the very narrow part at the top.

30 steps! I can do 30 steps. I am not going to miss the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa by 30 steps. Let’s go! Katie waits for Jess and I to go first because she said nobody better be in her way when she goes! Ha!

We make it to the top and OH I’m glad we did. What a view! We are standing…at the top… of the Leaning Tower of Pisa…. In Italy!

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