A Travellerspoint blog

Florence and friends

Tours to pisa and the chianti vineyards

sunny 22 °C

ke up late this morning and I had a train to catch. I also slept in and had to pay the fine for not checking out on time but made it barely. I went into the bar and ordered the energizer dish which is granola and yogurt with fruit. It was pretty good but I was in a hurry to finish quick. Soon I left to the train station which took me towards the made train station and I waited in line for a ticket. So in this train station there's so many people wanting a train ticket that you have to take a number. My number was 554.....currently 442 was being called. So I had a long time to wait for my number and I started people watching. I saw alot of travelers all in a rush and alot of locals walking nonchalantly. I then noticed them. The gypsies that I've been hearing so much about. They travel in pack 2 or 3 in a group. They didn't really notice me as a distressed traveler so they didn't bug me, but the poeple they did see stressed they asked them in english first. "You need ticket" form there they are either shood away or asked for help. If your hooked they lead to a self service booth and they help you translate the language towards a ticket to your destination. After they help you they ask for a small donation or from what I saw scam you into buying one too many tickets and keeping one saying it's a receipt or trash. From there they try and now sell that ticket for a cheaper fee. The local police guards are usually busy with tourist asking for assistance and can't really get to the gypsies in time. They shoo them away from the terminal and try and scare them out of the station. The girls put red lipstick on their cheeks to give them a rosy appearance while the boys go through the phone machines for change. The groups communicate irregularly to talk about weer the cops are and.how much money they have. For the unsuspecting traveler they may look like kind girls trying to help but they have a crazy character on them when you tell them to go away. Soon my numbered had been called and i went to the ticket e'er i showed him i had a eurail pass and he helped me stamp it for activation and told me when my train was. My train was 2 hours later, so I sat on the second level with my back on a wall and ate 1 of the 3 sandwiches I made the day before. I then filled my journal for about an hour.
I tried to get wifi buy the signal was weak. I started people watching 1 more time and started towards my train terminal. It was at the very end of the station because it was a local 2nd class train. It was going to Take 3 hours so I slept. When we arrived it took me a long time to figured out where I was and where the hostel was but I found it within the hour. My room had 4 beds and this hostel boasted a pool, terrace bar and sauna. The pool was insanely dirty so no swimming. The sauna was full of little kids cause they had an international choir competition and the hostel pretty much hosted the world. And the terrace bar was open because it was in season. Overall pretty much cap other than the room which had a decent wifi connection and the en suite bathroom. My roommates where a guy form the UK with horrible people skills and a guy from Turkey who was very friendly. I dropped my stuff off and headed into the city. The area that I was in was the south part of florence and was dying down because it was late. So I grabbed a pizza to go and headed back to the hostel to look up tours. I paid for the leaning tower of pisa tour and went to bed. The next day I woke up early to not miss the tour departure. I grabbed my day pack and went towards rhe train station where the tour was going to meet. I was the first one there and had to wait for the rest of the group. The other people in the group were Portuguese. The tour guide was a very bubbly blonde italian lady with a very crazy haircut. She introduced us to each other and I met another amercian on the tour his name was Crawford and he was from New York. it's always good to meet someone that speaks english because not hearing it for a while makes you feel like a mute. So we went on the bus and the tour guide was giving us the history of florence and the countryside until we got to pisa. From there we had strict guidelines on when we had to be back at certain times and what we were going to do. I tried to buy the going up the tower ticket but didn't have enough euro in hand at the time. So I asked if I could buy my ticket later on and to she said unfortunately the tickets had already been issued and if I wanted I could reschedule or try and wait in line and go up the tower before we left. So I didn't mind not going up. The tour to us first to the church and explained it's origins and that it was shaped like a cross and alot of other cool facts. Then the time came for the people climbing to go up and for the non climbers to roam around. By luck a lady didn't want to go up the tower because she was tired and wanted to give me her ticket. I graciously accepted the ticket and waited to go up. Inside the tower ground level you feel a weird sense of vertigo because the ground isn't level and the tour guide tells us how much the tower weighs and how much it is leaning by. We then all start heading up to the top and it feels like forever but not wands long as the dome on the vatican. Crawford was behind me and send I could hear him struggling but he made it up just find. Just when we thing we reach the top and take pictures we found out that it isn't the top and have one more flight. Finally at the very top the bells are a great sight to see along with the highest view in pisa. We stay up for about 10 minutes and start our decent. A cool thing about the tower is that at a certain angle climbing up feels like walking in a straight patch but on the other end the steps or so steep and hard to climb. We make it down and I hang out with Crawford for a while. The local merchants try and sell us a all the same swag everyone else is selling but I decline. Crawford buys buys a sweater and nd haggles the seller down to an ok amount. Somehow along the whole tour out bubbly tour guide dubs us the trouble makers and tries to have us separated 1 in the front of the tour pack and did the other in the back. When we get on the bus Crawford suggest I try end get on the Chianti wine tasting tour and I accept. I get off and pay the next tour guide for the tour. We set off into into the Tuscan country side to 2 chianti vineyards and a small town. The first vineyard was very informative about organic wines and how you should pick out your vinegar organically. We tried 3 different wines along with truffles in oil on bread. Chick peas, tomateos, and bell peppers in vinegar and even a ice cream tipped with vinegar. It was pretty good but the vinegar had been aged for 30 years years and had a caramel like consistency. After that vineyard we went to the next one and Crawford mentioned dinner. It was pretty late late and no one had eating. I heard if you are ever in florence you should have have the florence steak and he was talking about it too. He wanted too eat it the night before buy it had a 2 person minimum to try eat. As soon as we arrive at the next vineyard the glasses are already on display arrived we commence drinking. The wines here were more robust and full of flavor. The snacks we had were ok buy I was beginning to get tipsy. After the tour was over I bought my favorite chianti wine. Hopefully I save it till paris to drink in front of the Effeil Tower. By now I'm feeling pretty good and we are taken to the wine cellars. Before we head down we are greeted by the vineyards dog who Is very kind and easy to pet. He looked a bit shaggy and had a violent stride but really kind. We go down into the cellars and are schooled on the wine making process. Something which I already knew because patty and I went on a tour in Paso robles California. After we leave the cellars we get back on the bus and head towards the small town. The tour guide tells us to check out the local Butcher shop which was to my surprise very classy and had....more wine! So we drank more there. We head back to the bus shortly thereafter and head back to florence by now I had worked up and appetite and this magical sounding steak sounded pretty good by now. So I help Crawford go back to his hotel to drop his wine off. And we head to Gobbi 13. The restaurant is pretty packed and has a very nostalgic 80s theme. The servers are super busy running around everywhere and we sit by the bar drinking free house wine. The wine was pretty bad but it was free. When we finally get seated we order the florentine steak and some sides. Crawford has a pretty dark past but like all major people that have great lives turned his life around after a very serious surgery and decides to change his life and live it to the fullest. No looking back and to look ahead in life. While he gave me alot of inspirational advice I tell him all about my travels and how to travel very frugally and in hostels and how I want to keep on travelling. Finally the steak arrives and WOW it was big now I know why you need 2 people. It probably weighed more than 2 pounds and had been cooked medium rare. It had a charred apprrance and very rare appearance inside. I ate my half as if I hadn't eating in a while. I mean I had not eating real food in over a week. We talked alot more about life and how poeple back in the states don't want to think about travelling or the idea of leaving home. After we eat we say our farewells and head opposite way. I'm glad I meet so many cool people on my journey with so much wisdom. Sometimes we are so quick to judge everyone and to think the ones we judge have so much to tell and learn from. I went opposite because I believe my hostel was on the same road. I ended up wandering the streets of florence at night for 2 hours and it's something magical about walking and not knowing were you are going in a foreign place.
Somehow I guide myself to one of the main squares and walk back to the hostel.

"I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side."-Roman Payne

Posted by egarciafreites 12:41 Archived in Italy Tagged tower leaning pisa new friends steak chianti

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