Friday, February 5, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

We slept way too late today.  Funny things go on after you undergo a big time change, like, for example, sleeping until noon for no good reason.  After cursing our hefty drapes for a few minutes and lamenting overshooting breakfast by a good hour and a half, we set out.  Rain.  Buckets, cups, even and carafes of it. Rain is tolerable in real life, but on vacation it is a serious bag of fail.  We ducked into a little Caffe for some sandwiches and cappuccino.  We mapped out our day.  Kristin has been demanding that we see the tower of Pisa, so we buttoned our coats, slid our hands into our new leather gloves and set off on foot to the Santa Maria Novella Stazione.

We had a pleasant train ride to Pisa, cutting through the rainy Tuscan countryside.  We passed groves and farms and quaint houses on little hills.  When we arrived at the Pisa station, Kristin had to wait in a long line to use the restroom.  The women's restroom had two stalls, and when one door opened up with Kristin being next in line, she neglected to enter.  Why?  Well, because the lady in front of her yoged all over the bathroom stall.  Kristin hesitated to enter, and the barfer yelled at Kristin in Italian for a few minutes before finally hitting the street to go by smack or whatever crazy people do.  It was definitely a rocky way to start our brief relationship with the town of Pisa.

We loosely meandered our way through the streets of Pisa, getting lost numerous times. We finally saw a decent size group of Asians, and figured that following them would probably lead us to the tower that leans.  It worked.

It is funny this tower.  Pisa Tower is considered the most popular tower in the world, and yet from a technical standpoint, it is nothing more than a stunning failure.  It was built on too small a foundation upon a shifting ground and that is why it leans.  Later construction was built to accomodate and welcome the lean, passed the point of no return it seems.  The tower is not the real interest for me, but rather, the way that we as people have responded to it.  If something is obviously a failure but in such a way that makes it different or perhaps eccentrically appealing, then I suppose people grow to love it.  Watching people respond to this tower really blew me away.  It was raining, the tower is really in the middle of nowhere, and yet, people are absolutely elated to see it and be there.  It was busier than anywhere we went in Florence yesterday, and every single person was taking that one picture where they act like they are somehow contributing to the lean or holding it up, acting like happy kids.  The people all leave and the lonely little tower just sits there, leaning, the most popular architectural failure in the world.

We dropped into a little Pisan restaurant, and were greeted with plates of fresh farmhouse artisanal cheeses, warm loaves, and smiling service.  To live is to eat cheese, and so I was not disappointed at all when the server accidentally mistook our order of one for two orders of cheese plates.  We ate like the gods.  Drizzling honey on crumbling goat cheese and smashing it all between a wedge of bread was my favorite move of the afternoon.  Kristin preferred a firmer manchego type cheese with jam and just a dollop of honey.  After the cheese, we shared a very green Pisan salad.

One thing we noticed today, is everywhere we went, we ran into Sudanese looking people selling umbrellas that speak perfect english.

We took a train back to Florence in the dark, and decided to take the long walk home rather than forking out the dough to take a cab.  We dropped into a supermarket to buy some bread and wine for a cheap dinner.  We had 3 peanut butter sandwiches and some m&ms, oh, with chianti, which is like water here.  Italy, and Europe in general, really puts a drain on your funds.  Twice so far, we have had to sit down and write out all of the things that we purchased just to confirm that we were not randomly losing money.  It adds up in very irrational ways.

At the supermarket, our discomfort hit a fever pitch.  Some quick backstory, we bought really nice handmade leather gloves yesterday.  Kristin likes her gloves so much, that sometimes I look over at her, and she is just staring down at them in some sort of glove crazed trance.  She loves those gloves, and I admit to a special fondness for my gloves as well, though I have yet to go so far as to make dinner reservations for said gloves and I.  Anyways, we are exiting the supermarket, and she realizes that her gloves are nowhere to be found.  She loses it, complete breakdown.  She makes me walk through the store twice, oddly, on HER third trip inside, she finds the gloves draped over a baguette.  Celebration ensues, the end.


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