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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pisa: beautiful tourist trap

Joyce, as I say, had been here before, years ago, in the fall when it was actually cold. No such luck the day we went. It was probably the hottest day of the whole year. But they had just finished their centennial cleaning, or whatever, and it was all shiny. So that was nice.

I never gave much thought to anything but the tower before, but like any medieval church complex, there's a sanctuary, a baptistry and in this case, a cemetary. Actually a couple of them.

The church part was probably the big deal back in the Middle Ages, until the tower started canting over. The church proper still isn't all that interesting, although the baptistry and the cemetaries (Jewish and Christian) probably are. But our tour only included the church, and you can then walk around outside all you want. Most of us wanted to go in the shade.





But hell, we were there, so let's look at some pictures!


Jewish cemetary


Baptistry


It amazes me how clear it was on such a hot, humid day. You should click on these to see the detail.


Money shot


We call it the money shot because this is where you can see the"banana" curve. It bows to the left, then back to the right.

This is another good shot of the "banana":




We tried some of those pictures where you're holding up the tower. They have that part covered with open pavers because otherwise there can't be any grass. They came out awful, which just makes us laugh more.




The whole complex was also lined with souvenir stalls, and we bought a few.




We also bought ice cream and cold water. The bus park was a long way off from the church complex, which was odd because not even people in wheelchairs could get close. On the other hand, it was less than 20 miles from the port, and we were back on board before noon, which meant plenty of time to pack and swim and nap.

One the way out of the port of Livorno, the water was somewhat rougher than usual. Check it out.




So we swam, packed, napped, ate dinner and went to see Karen Williams. We made sure we could put virtually everything out in the corridor and have nothing but day packs and shoulder bags to get off the ship. And then they had porters for us (Hello, Keleti train station in Budapest!) from customs to the buses.


Before I forget to say something, all the food on the ship was pretty good. Every night we got the "bent spoon sample," which was always a taste of some odd thing or other presented on a spoon which stood up on the plate. Sometimes you could figure it out, others not so much. But it was a source of amusement and a conversation starter, although we only sat with others once in the whole week. Cruise ships have basically stopped forcing people to eat at the same table with the same people every night, or with anyone at all. They have mostly tables for two, and put together more if you ask.

Oddly, the only foods we sent back were fish dishes. We think they were frozen. Criminy, you're in the Med. Show a little initiative and collect the local catch of the day in each port. Good thing we had eaten a lot of fish before the cruise. Overall, I'd give the food an A- and definitely recommend the Windstar Line. Unfortunately it's in bankruptcy proceedings so no telling how long they'll be around. They were booked for the rest of the summer, mostly with charters like ours: wine-tasting, Biblical tours, nudists and whatever. Windsurf is a very nice ship, even though it's older and smaller. Those huge floating cities jam-packed with kids and shopping just don't appeal to us. As for the one shop, all we ever bought in it was a memory card. I think Joyce splurged on a t-shirt, too, but it wasn't about shopping for us. It never is.

Next time, our transfer to Rome. Just thinking about it exhausts me.

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