Thursday, March 12, 2015

Feb. 15 Livorno, Italy (Pisa)

Pisa and trolley ride.
The itinerary said:

"Drive through the countryside enroute to the historic town of Pisa located on the banks of the Amo River. A short trolley ride will take you to Miracle Square next to the Leaning Tower. During WWII much of Pisa was destroyed by German and allied bombing however the cathedral, baptistery and the Leaning Tower escaped unharmed. There will be some free time to admire the exterior of the campanile and enjoy some coffee or browse for souvenirs in Pisa before returning to your ship."

Our excursion today to see the city of Pisa and the Leaning Tower was RESCHEDULED without us knowing!  No reason was given just like the last one had been cancelled in Ephesus. It had been rescheduled for the 9 a.m. excursion instead of the 1p.m. time we had booked and paid for months ago. So we unknowingly slept in and lounged around this morning taking our time getting ready and looking forward to seeing the Leaning Tower and didn't leave our cabin for breakfast until 10a.m. and there was the notice sitting in our mailbox and by then the bus was long gone! Somebody had quietly placed it in our mailbox during the night or the early morning and we weren't accustomed to checking our mailbox until we were leaving the room in the mornings. Helloooo ship, we have a phone!

To say we were pissed off is an understatement; the Tower was #2 on my list of favs to see and our chance was gone and there were no more ship sponsored excursions for the day. We will be departing and all had to be onboard by 6:30 p.m.  What to do....what to do....
Pat decided to head for the terminal to get in some free WiFi time and I went for breakfast then joined her with my IPad. That's when I saw a guy with a tour sign for a trip into the city and to the Leaning Tower and he would wait for us and drive us I asked and he quoted the price of 120 Euros each which is about $170. Cndn and way too much to pay I thought although I was already scheming a plan to find more people to make a group and then see if a better shared price would be an option to offer him. Unfortunately the bulk of the crowds looking to go had thinned out to nothing so getting more people wasn't likely going to happen.
Then I noticed a couple of shuttle buses outside and asked the driver and he said it was 2 Euros to get into the city and then we'd have to find another 2 bus'es and then take the train to the tower. It sounded like a plan to us so off we went and found the right two buses but then that's when everything went awry because at this point nobody spoke English and all signage was in Italian of course. We knew a few words like stazione but couldn't find a sign that said stazione never mind train stazione.
Then we were accosted by a pair of persistant gypsies and that was when we started to get a little worried knowing we stuck out like lost tourists.

So we went into a McD's and i ate a very messy McFlurry and we sat awhile then attempted it again and found the train stazione ok and got on a train to Pisa. Soon we were way hell and gone about 20 miles away but at least the signs said we were in Pisa and so we continued. By then we needed to find a ladies room and saw a sign and attempted to walk in only to be hollered at to pay first. Good grief but it was a black light bthrm and clean and modern so that was kind of a cool experience.

 Yes, this stuff was in the McD's too

 one of two pieces of art I liked at McD's

Who knew Pisa was such a huge city? The excursion brochure referred to it as a town. Who knew nobody would understand the words "Leaning Tower of Pisa" It was a little scary actually and we started to feel chicken knowing that we may have gotten off the train at the wrong stop and it might still be several bus rides away and a long distance and we were already feeling a little lost and unsure of the way back.

Then the reminder that the ship could leave without us if we were late getting back since we weren't on a ships tour so we turned back into the train station and tried to get our bearings. But of course to go the opposite way meant everything was new again with an underground tunnel, lots of stairs and much stress because everything was different. Finally we came to a platform where we heard a couple speaking English. They had all their luggage and were on the second day of travelling from San Diego via LA. NY, London, Frankfurt and Rome. Their flight to Rome had been delayed and they missed the ship so had to overnight there then fly up to Livorno to catch up with it there. What a coincidence that we should happen upon this lovely American couple with the woman named Amour (Love) at a train station. We thought we were lost and so did they. Then another couple arrived and we found out that we were all Jade passengers and we knew the ship wouldn't leave with that many people missing. There's strength in numbers and at least we knew that between us we'd figure out the way to get us back where we belonged. After waiting about an hour for the train we finally arrived in Livorno and got off the train right at a NCL shuttle bus stop which was another stroke of luck because it didn't look anything like where we had come from.

The newest passengers Amour and her hubby left their luggage for the bus driver to stow away and we all boarded the bus. Soon the bus was full of NCL passengers and we were on the last leg of our day trip when just below where I was sitting the luggage compartment door flew open. Everyone hollered at the bus driver and he stopped and went out to close the door but he had left the bus in gear and the bus fully loaded with passengers started to drive off without a driver! Luckily he managed to get back onboard to stop the bus before there was an accident. He closed the luggage door, got back in and pulled a u turn to go back and see if  there had been any luggage fall out and there had! It was one of the newest couples bags which they said held their most precious belongings and contained expensive camera lens and other breakable items and there it lay all scuffed upside down beside the road. I thought we had a bad day but theirs was a day from hell.

We arrived at the ship and the new couple still had the security process to get through so we all parted company but I'm sure we will meet again onboard. I think this couple celebrating their tenth anniversary will remember this trip for a long long time!
After freshening up we decided to go to the buffet as it was Italian night. I ate a little pasta in it's honor but mostly filled up on veggies and several different types of mushrooms and olives and an excellent grilled chicken although the sign had said it was fish. Pat said she had chosen chicken but it turned out to be fish. I think this mishap was due to two lovebirds who attend that station and they were busy patting each other on the bum and gazing lovingly at each other and have screwed up the signage a few times now. Not a big deal, we can handle wrong labels when it's in the name of love. For dessert we both chose crepes which are made by a chef as you watch and very popular with the kids onboard. Mine was canteloupe and lemon and Pat had her first taste of Nutella crepes.

We have dined at all the free restaurants and buffets onboard now and some are better than others. The Garden Buffet is my favorite for most meals but so popular it's hard to find a place to sit and eat sometimes. The dining rooms are a little more formal and too slow for me and sometimes a dinner can last a couple or three hours. This morning I had French toast in the Blue Lagoon which is a free 24 hour restaurant. Their menu is limited but it serves a good purpose sometimes if you're in between the regular hours of the buffet and dining rooms. As of yet we haven't tried any of the 8 restaurants that have a cover charge of $15- $20. even though we want to and know it will be worthwhile but why buy when great free food is readily available and has a vast number of interesting dishes to choose from. Maybe on my birthday we'll do the Teppanyaki room or Sushi house or the steak place but in the meanwhile we are very happy with the Jades food and choices.


Linda Gross said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you missed seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The ship needs better cumminocarion! You had quite the adventure, not seeing the Tower of Pisa!

Lorraina said...

Thanks Linda, yes, we felt bad to have missed it but what can you do, what's done is done but maybe we'll go back someday and make darn sure to see it then!