Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Si Pisa, See No Pisa

"The captain has asked that you return to your seats and fasten your seat belts at this time as we prepare for landing in Pisa."

My heart was racing to say the least.  Unfortunately, our cancelled flight O'Hare to JFK meant my strategically chosen seat on the flight to Pisa I had planned to be on was no longer (as well as our day in Pisa had to be cancelled).  Instead, I was smack in the middle, scrunched between two large men with little, if any, room to sleep or lean at the very least.  Also to add to the serene atmosphere were two small children, who voiced their love of flying quite frequently throughout the entire flight with high-pitch squeals and sobs.  Thank the Lord I brought my iPod.

Nevertheless, I forgot all of the lack of sleep once we began our descent into Tuscany.  I managed to look over my right shoulder at just the right moment and catch a glimpse of the beautiful Pisa coastline: picturesque shades of green and blue in a watercolor style from the shores to the rolling bluffs in the distance.  This moment was so moving for me, once a young girl who only dreamed of a European visit, now gliding over the beautiful hillsides preparing to take on seven whole weeks of cultural exploration.

Pisa was not our final destination, however.  We (my friend and I both took the same flight since we are both studying at the Accademia Italiana) landed both shaken and excited.  Immediately everything was English and Italian.  After going through customs and grabbing our baggage we headed to the exit and were met by a complete mess of tired travelers.  The Pisa Airport is small but filled to the brim!

The next step was to get on a train to Florence.

We exchanged some dollars for euros and then proceeded down the hall to where the train would apparently pick us up.  It was not this easy.  We walked up and down this airport trying to figure out if we needed separate tickets and where to validate them, etc.  Luckily my ten or so Italian phrases I learned were appropriate for this situation and aided me somewhat in attempting to ask for instruction.

Anyhow, we ended up on the train (mind you I am lugging maybe 80 pounds of luggage, on minimal sleep, and barely speaking a foreign language). The train which took us to Pisa Central in any case.  We then had to transfer trains to get on the right one to Florence, which included literally sprinting as fast as we could up a few flights of stairs, 80 pounds of luggage in tow, to catch the train, then getting off at the stop before the intended destination (something like the slums of Florence it seemed) and then racing to get back on when we decided we were not where we wanted to be, and lastly figuring out how to use an Italian pay phone to let our co-ordinaters know that we were indeed in the country despite flight cancellations.

One cab ride later and we arrived at our new Italian apartment... which is a story for my next post!

So here I am, sitting in a tiny computer lab at Accademia Italiana across from the Piazza Pitti in Florence, writing to everyone back in the States which are now about a 12 hour flight away from me.   My journey here will be something I will remember for a long, long time.  Even though our day in Pisa was cancelled and we had countless moments of "Uhh, what do we do now?", I can assure you the trauma and exhaustion is worth every second.

The last few days have gone so quickly and there is so much to tell, and I plan to write as much as possible!  For now here is a photo of a fire we saw at O'Hare, which we have no idea what happened!

Florence Fashion Week begins today and I intend to stalk as much of it as possible!

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