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Leaning Tower of Pisa

Sunday, October 6, 2013 @ 10:25 pm from Italy Italy
Day 102

I used some heavy duty ear plugs last night and slept like a champ. I woke up this morning and went out for some kind of caramel stuffed croissant and a cappuccino for breakfast then went to the train station and got a train to Pisa.

The train ride from Lucca to Pisa is only about a half hour and it leaves every hour from Lucca. At the Pisa Centrale train station I was greeted with beggars and people trying to sell stupid trinkets. After making my way past that nonsense I finally crossed the river and made my way to the tower and cathedral that the city is known for.

There was a big market going on that had the same stuff I saw yesterday here in Lucca. Eventually I made it to the tower but they had closed off several of the sidewalks and paths for construction so there were tons of people all crammed into a few spots which made picture taking and viewing a bit of a pain.

I hung out there for a while and then after the crowds started to bug me I went to Knight's Square which is one of the main squares in Pisa. Some of it was under construction but it was still a nice place to see. Form there I headed to a garden where there were people constantly walking by trying to sell lighters and other crap.

One thing I've gotten good at over this trip so far is keeping my head down and saying 'no' or simply ignoring people who come up to me and start talking. It's sad that it has to be that way, but pretty much anyone who randomly walks up to you in a public area is either begging for money or trying to scam you. It's just something you end up getting used to after a while.

I walked around a little bit more and had lunch at a random cafe. I though the trains were running to Lucca every hour but apparently the schedule was messed up since it was Sunday so I had to wait around for an extra 20 minutes for a different train to depart.

Back in Lucca I went back to the hostel and grabbed a half bottle of wine that I had left and went over to the wall to enjoy it in the nice weather. After finishing the bottle I went over to the big market but it was closed and then I went to a different one but it was also closed. Not feeling too optimistic I walked around town a little more but found another store that had some local wines and bought another bottle of locally produced wine.

I came back to the hostel and relaxed for a bit and had some more wine before heading across the street to a pizzaria and getting a pizza for dinner. They've got a big oven that they cook the pizzas in. This was my second one from them and both of the pizzas have been great. I'm not even in the pizza capital of Italy and the pizzas are still fantastic.

Tomorrow I head to the Cinque Terre to a town called Riomaggiore. It's situated on some cliffs along the coats and should provide some great views and hiking opportunities. I'll be there for 4 nights before heading to Florence.
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Torre pendente di Pisa (The leaning tower of Pisa)
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Pisa Cathedral and the Tower
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Leaning Tower of Pisa
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Pizza vending machines. Can't say I tried them.

The rain keeps following me

Saturday, October 5, 2013 @ 08:36 pm from Italy Italy
Day 101

One of the guys in the room last night was an extremely loud snorer. The forecast was calling for rain all day so I wasn't really in a hurry to get up. Unfortunately everyone else in the room got up and was making plenty of noise where it was worthless to try and sleep in.

Since I was up, I ate and then looked outside and saw it wasn't raining. I figured I'd take advantage of the lack of rain to go for a walk. I went around the entirety of the city walls and also found a market that was going on. It was mostly women's clothes with a few fruit and veggie vendors thrown in.

After completing the perimeter of the city I went and walked around the streets a little bit. The sky was already cloudy but it was getting darker so I came back to the hostel to eat lunch, answer some emails and have some wine.

Sure enough it started raining and hasn't really stopped since. Before dinner I went out and walked around a little bit since I didn't have any food here and needed something to eat. It was sprinkling when I started walking around but eventually started raining pretty hard. I took that as my cue to duck into a pizza shop and buy a slice of pizza. It was a little earlier than I would have liked to have dinner, but I didn't want to keep wandering around aimlessly in the rain.

The forecast looks a little better for tomorrow so I'm going to head to the train station and catch a regional train to Pisa in the morning to try and get there before the rain really starts coming down. There are trains that depart every hour around the 45 minute mark so I'm planning on getting the 9:45am train.

It's really a pain in the butt staying in a hostel that doesn't have any kind of kitchen or cooking/food storage facilities. I didn't realize how expensive eating out for pretty much every meal can be, even if it's just cheap pizza or sandwiches.

A perfect day in Lucca

Friday, October 4, 2013 @ 06:09 pm from Italy Italy
Day 100

Today was a great day to spend walking around Lucca. It started off when the guy below me set his alarm at 6am, snoozed it and then left the room when his alarm kicked back on for a good 15 minutes before he came back. After falling back asleep I got up around 8:30 to start the day.

I saw quite a few of the main sights in town today. I also climbed up the Torre Guinigi and got some great shots of the entire city. The view from up there was simply amazing looking over the town. There are several towers throughout town and it was neat seeing them rise above all the orange tile roofs. Torre Guinigi is a little different because it actually has trees growing on top of it.

I spent the next several hours simply walking around all the winding streets and the city walls. Eventually I stopped and had a slice of pizza for lunch and picked up another bottle of wine. I found a secluded section of the wall and had a couple glasses of wine before walking the rest of the wall.

I zig zagged through the city some more and then finally came back to the hostel after about 6 hours outside walking around. Lucca is a beautiful city. The amount of people out on bikes, running along the wall, and simply being outside enjoying the day is great to see.

I looked at a few stores to see what kind of deals they had on leather jackets but I think I'll wait until I'm in Florence to buy one. I've wanted a leather jacket for a long time and Florence is known for its leather skills. The light jacket I bought before leaving the states simply isn't warm enough either when it gets cold out which is another excuse for getting a nice jacket.

The forecast for tomorrow changed and now it's calling for a 100% chance of rain which is a shame. I'll probably try to head out and walk around a bit if I can avoid some rain but we'll see. Sunday is calling for 60% chance of rain both here and in Pisa. I'll probably still head to Pisa though. The rain might actually keep some of the crowds away which is always nice at the big tourist areas.
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Lucca from the Torre Guinigi
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San Michele in Foro
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Lucca and some of its towers
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Mountains outside of Lucca

Why'd I wait so long for Italy?

Thursday, October 3, 2013 @ 09:01 pm from Italy Italy
Day 99

It was pretty nice outside when I left Vienna today. Still really cold, but the sun was out and bright. It's a shame it wasn't like that yesterday morning when I went to Schobrunn palace.

My flight to Florence was at 11:40am today and not really being sure how long it would take to get to the airport by train I ended up leaving the hostel around 8:30am. I took the U4 line to the connection for the airport but I had just missed the 8:45 service and had to wait until 9:15. I finally got to the airport around 9:45 and after walking around what felt like a maze to get to the checkin counter, I was finally checked in and through security with about an hour to kill before my flight started boarding which is just about what I was hoping for.

I had a coffee then got on a little shuttle to take me to the plane. It was another dual prop plane similar to the one I flew from Dublin to Edinburgh. This one was a little bigger but it was still pretty noisy inside. Once we got close to Florence the clouds broke up and there were some amazing views of the Tuscan countryside as we made our approach.

Once I landed I got my bag then went over to catch the shuttle bus for the train station. Since there's no station attached to the airport you need to catch a shuttle for 6 euros. I waited for a little while and it finally showed up and dropped me off in a super busy mess of people by the bus/train station.

One nice thing I noticed right away was how warm it was. It was in the low 70's which was a full 20 degrees warmer than I've been experiencing for the last week or so. The jeans, long sleeved shirt and jacket I had on were definitely a bit much.

I got some cash and then had a sundried tomato, ham and cheese sandwich while waiting for my train to Lucca. A few nights ago I bought the train ticket online and had to specify a departure time. I wasn't sure how long it would take to get through all the airport mess, catch the shuttle and get to the train station. Because of all those factors, I was a little hesitant to book some of the earlier departures. I ended up having to wait around at the train station for about 2 hours unfortunately.

For the rest of my travel in Italy I'll probably just buy my tickets at the station. I thought ordering them online would be cheaper but I checked today and there wasn't any savings involved.

The train ride to Lucca brought me through some gorgeous little towns, vineyards and countryside. The entire area is surrounded by mountains which is nice to see. The last time I saw true mountains was way back in Wales.

Once in Lucca I walked through the city to my hostel. Lucca is surrounded by its old city walls which helps keep car traffic out of the city. It's basically one humungous pedestrian zone with winding cobblestone streets lined with typical Tuscan buildings (orange roofs, stucco walls, etc).

After checking into the hostel I took a little walk to the 3 store to get a SIM card for my phone. I'm going to be in Italy for a little over 2 weeks so I figure having a data connection will be nice. I'm also tired of the shoddy wifi I've been experiencing lately too.

After getting the SIM card I walked part of the city walls and went to the grocery store to pick up some muffins for breakfast, apples and oranges to snack on and a bottle of wine that I haven't opened yet. Unfortunately this hostel doesn't have a kitchen and I don't have a cup to drink the wine. I might just end up doing it ghetto style and drinking straight from the bottle.

Once I finished up at the grocery it was already dark out so I found a pizza place and got a wood fired pizza for dinner and ate it at the hostel. Tomorrow I'll explore Lucca all day and see what it has to offer. Saturday is calling for 80% chance of rain so that might just be a work/catchup day. Then on Sunday I'm going to head to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower.

Arriving in Italy today has really recharged me. I was starting to get a little tired of all the traveling but I think a dramatic change in scenery, climate and culture was very much needed. I've always loved Italy and so far it hasn't disappointed me.
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Lucca, Italy
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Lucca's old city walls
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Path along the old city walls
Mural in a shop in Pompeii. It shows the house gods including the god of commerce and the god of wine. #pompei #europetrip2013
Enjoying a Tasty Jacks cider on the River Corrib in Galway. #europetrip2013
Manometer. How much of a man are you? At the Sv. Norbert monastery brewery. #prague #europetrip2013
Cheaters way to the top via train. #snowdonia #europetrip2013
The Louvre! #europetrip2013 #louvre #paris
Berliner Fernsehtrum. 386 meters tall (Germany's tallest construction). #berlin #europetrip2013
More adventures in street food. A fried dough filled with a honey syrup and then dipped in sugar. #europetrip2013 #tangier
Vondelpark. #amsterdam #europetrip2013
Arts center in Valencia. #europetrip2013 #valencia
Blasket Island #europetrip2013

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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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