Day 4: Pisa

After a wee bit of shopping in the markets literally 5 metres from our apartment door, we packed up all our bags and headed to Termini to catch the train to Pisa. It was a very pleasant journey, winding up through the countryside next to the coast. Soon we began to see coastal village after coastal village and I wondered which one was Castiglioncello. We arrived shortly after in Pisa and looked for a map so we could find our hotel. On the map, it didn't look too far away so I suggested we walk. I knew we had to get to the river and then it was just the other side. We ended up following the crowds of people, thinking that was the safest bet. Unfortunately, they were all going to the lively shopping and eating areas and our hotel ended up being another half an hour walk to the left. It is so hard to know when you are booking hotels, that the location is central. Now I know the layout of Pisa, I would stay right in the centre. There are two lovely hotels just down the road from the Leaning Tower. When we arrived at the hotel, it looked like a multi-storey carpark and I looked at husband and just said, 'I'm sorry'.

The lift was barely big enough to fit one suitcase and one person in, so Colin went in there with Charlie and I hauled the rest of the stuff up the stairs. I had no patience to wait for 3-4 trips in the lift - I needed to have a rest NOW. I think the lady at reception thought I was a tad nuts!

Look, the hotel was okay but it was more like a motel. Still, the shower was excellent and better than the one in Rome. There is nothing quite like a hot shower - what a luxury :)

By this stage it was already around 4pm so I wanted to get out and enjoy Pisa, knowing that we would be on a train again in the morning. We walked straight toward the Tower and you could tell you were getting close to Tourismville because fake Rolex sellers and other hawkers started hassling us.

As the streets opened up to the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), both my husband and I were in complete awe. Nothing prepares you for a massive tower that looks as if it could fall over any moment. I had talked to many people that said Pisa wasn't worth going to. Had they even been here? Minute by minute, it worked its charms on me and I completely fell in love. The little streets, the colours of the buildings, the young and vibrant atmosphere, the food and wine (well it was aperitivo time!).

We sat and people-watched for an hour, letting Charlie get out and walk for a while on the pavement between all three buildings there including the Duomo. We tut-tutted (well mostly just giggled) as loads of tourists got told off for stomping all over the perfectly manicured lawns which were fenced off and sign-posted. Everyone had to get their photo that looked as if they were holding the Tower up. It just looked like masses of people were studying their own version of Tai Chi.

Walk and eat. Walk and eat. That's what we did in Italy in general! When we were walking, we would see wonderful ristorantes but when we were hungry and ready to sit down, we could never find them again and would seem to walk in endless loops trying to find something!

In the end, we realised that it was too early - about 6.30pm and the restaurants were not really open. We managed to find two places together, one which served basic pizza and pasta and another that had all kinds of yummy dessert as well as cocktails. So we ate ravioli at one and had cocktails and gelati at the other. It was like a mini pub crawl but with more food. We found out the second place is actually quite famous and has been around for decades. It's called La Salza I think....

After two cocktails, I was a little bit tipsy (cheap drunk I know) and Charlie had to rely on husband to be the responsible parent. We hung around this lively area until just before dark when we started to make our way back to the hotel. There was a double bed and a single for Charlie but no cot and he just refused to sleep in the single bed. We were worried he would fall out in the middle of the night so he ended up sleeping in between us. Halfway through the night, husband went to sleep in the single bed. Pretty sure he had the better sleep as Charlie has a tendency to sleep sideways and kick me in the head.

I was starting to get excited now about waking up and heading to the sea!

Stay tuned...