Saturday, 29 June 2013

Should That Be Leaning Like That?

Wednesday 22 May 2013. Having cruised around Puccini's lake, we pile onto the coach and after a short drive get off again on a huge expanse of concrete and tarmac that the Italians lovingly call Pisa Bus Station.

Fifteen minutes walk takes us to Miracle Square, where we find the Baptistry, the Basilica and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's one of those places in the world where every step you take you find some African trying to sell you some tat, ignoring the fact that you've waved away or ignored at least ten of his or her fellow peddlers whilst he or she has been approaching you...

Why does it not fall over...? Anyway the Tower is not the only bit of history in the square of course. Galileo sat bored to death in the cathedral once watching the swinging of the chandelier and realised that no matter how far it swung, it took the same time to reach from one extreme to the other. He gave a whistle of amazement, liked the sound and invented the cuckoo clock. Able to turn his hand to anything, he later climbed up the Leaning Tower and repeatedly dropped apples onto Sir Isaac Newton...

We introduced Miss Jeannie to the delights of Granitas, more romantically known as slush to us Brits. David settled for a coke which wasn't as inclined to squash and spill, meaning he didn't have to interrupt his photography until he had finished drinking...

Then after an hour or so of sunburn, we started along the row of souvenir stalls which led back towards the coach excursion meeting point. Ah, how unusual! A fridge magnet!!!

Out of the four of us I'm sure you can guess who got fed up of the souvenir shops the quickest? Yes indeed. The clicky-monster and I headed off on a more direct route to the meeting point. Or to be more precise, to a bar and pavement cafe close by the meeting point.

Once the ladies had joined us and we met up with the rest of the group and fended off another set of Africans - "No thanks I don't want a Leaning Tower tea towel, or a native drum..." - we set off walking back to the bus station. There was one chap I didn't recognise and having fallen (as you do if you're anything like me) into conversation with him, it turned out he was from another ship and had taken a bus to Pisa from Livorno and had forgotten where the bus station was so had tagged onto our group as he knew from our language we would be heading for the same place as he was! The bus station was so huge that he was still walking towards the public bus service section as we passed him on our coach.

Back onboard the Thomson Dream we learn that tomorrow's itinerer... Itinni... stuff we are doing has changed. We were due to go to St Raphael near St Tropez in France but there's some rough weather that way and instead we are to call at Villefranche between Nice and Monaco. Miss Franny and I have been there before but are delighted to get a chance to show David and Miss Jeannie as it's a lovely place.

We go to watch the show that night and then stay in the show lounge to watch the crew members' show. One of the bar staff, a tiny girl from the Philippines has a very creditable stab at Puccini's Oh Mio Babbino Caro and there was a very good street dance troupe, who Miss Jeannie collared for a photo, together with one of the waiters from the restaurant, far left, who had chopped up a few boards to kindling for the ship's furnaces.

Large versions of the photos: my photos (but not David's) can be found in this set at Flickr.

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