After a couple of days exploring Florence, it was time to jump back on the train and see what Pisa has to offer. I’d checked the train timetable and as the trains run frequently between the two cities we were in no rush to get to the station. A final stroll through the streets of Florence and in no time we were at the ticket machine, with the next train leaving in 4 minutes. Plenty of time, right?
Being wise with our time, I left my boyfriend to finish buying the tickets while I went to find out which platform we needed to be on.
3 minutes to departure and I knew which platform the train was leaving from.
2 minutes to departure and I could see my boyfriend still at the ticket machine. Silently cursing our decision to not get a later train I saw my boyfriend rushing towards me holding the tickets.
1 minute to departure and we were suddenly those backpackers you see running through a train station. Thankfully we knew where the platform was, as we’d arrived on the same one a couple of days early. Not so thankful that it was further away than the other platforms. As we neared the train, there was no-one left on the platform apart from an old lady trying to climb up to the train, and we quickly jumped on at the first set of open doors.
As the train pulled away, I wasn’t sure that it was in fact the right train. Many European train stations have two platforms on one, and we’d just jumped on the first train we’d seen. It was until the third stop that I saw a sign that said we would be going to Pisa Centrale. Phew.
An hour later we pulled into Pisa Centrale and took the 15 minute walk to the hotel. After a few stumbles getting over the language barrier, we checked into our room, dropped our bag and switched to our spa bag. Out again, we wandered past the famous leaning tower, with all the tourists pulling their poses, and on to Pisa S.Rossore where we’d catch the train to San Giuliano for a visit to Bagni di Pisa.
Although we have travelled Europe by train quite a bit, we really struggled buying the tickets here. I was sure we could get the train from this station, but after not finding the station on the ticket machine, and no-one in the ticket office, we resorted to checking Google, which said we had to get the train from Centrale station. Annoyed at myself for the mistake, we caught the train to central station, where we were still unable to find the station on the ticket machine. Asking for help in the ticket office, it seems we’d missed out a full stop. A full stop. I was pretty annoyed at the wasted time, but we made the most of the 40-minute wait for the next train by sampling the local dishes – McDonalds cheesy chips. Hey, you can’t say we’re not cultured!
Finally making it to the spa town, I loved it! We often pass through little villages and small towns on our European train travels, and always say ‘we should visit somewhere like this’ and we finally were! After spending a few hours in the spa, we were ready to make the short journey back to Pisa. Although it’s just a short train journey, the train only passes through once an hour. As we’d just missed the train, we faced either an hour wait in a small town with no shops open, or we could jump in a taxi for a 10-minute drive. Deciding the taxi was our best bet, we ask the receptionist to book us one, who kindly advised we’d be looking at €25-30 for the journey. When the train is just €3 for us both, it wasn’t a hard decision, so we had a wander around the town, found the only place that was open and waited in there with a drink and snack. As it turns out, this was one of my most favourite hours in Italy, hanging out in a bar where no-one spoke English, with locals popping in for 10 minutes for a beer and to tuck into the buffet laid out on the bar, before disappearing into the night.
After catching the train back to Pisa, we made the most of no tourists and took some cheesy photos with the tower before trying to find somewhere to grab some dinner. One of the downsides of travelling out of season to a city like Pisa that caters predominantly for day trippers is that there isn’t a great deal of demand for late night dinner spots. Although we were looking for something take out that wasn’t McDonalds, we did find a little restaurant that was bustling and offering pizza and pasta…just what we wanted to celebrate our last night in Italy.