Walking Across Italy: Pisa to Ravenna
Oh how I hate to write trip reports. Why oh why do I record everything and with best intentions set off on the trip only to come home and procrastinate for months. This time, it’s only last month that we arrived home. Not too long but still, I didn’t starting writing that week, or the next, or the next. We left home on October 5th and came back on the 22nd and here it is November 15th and I can put it off no longer.
Our flights out of Boston were a little whacko due to booking them 10 months if advance to get the best options out of our FF miles. A free ticket is a happy ticket. We flew into Pisa and out of Venice so that we wouldn’t have to train back to our starting point, wasting time and money. I couldn’t believe this was possible with FF miles but after a phone call to Delta I was told that this was indeed possible for the same 50,000 miles per ticket, as long as we flew into an out of cities within the same country. Hooray for us! However our ticket involved leaving from Boston, flying to LGA, transferring by cab or bus to JFK and then to Pisa. Coming home it would be PSA to JFK to BOS, not as bad. The cost for both of us was 3K plus if we had bought the tickets out of pocket! Cost with FF miles (only accrued by using my Delta Sky Miles Amex Platinum – not from actual flying) was only about 150. for both of us and of course the yearly card fee of 135. I’ll take it! To us it’s well worth the money spent in the miles that we earn with the DSM/Platinum. Enough said about such mundane but important matters nevertheless.
So, the day arrived but I hadn’t been able to get our boarding passes online. Not freaked out but wondering why, we arrived at Logan early and I searched for a Delta podium that was staffed. I walked up and asked the staff member about the boarding pass since what I had printed out had no bar code. I mentioned that we had to fly to LaGuardia and then transfer probably by cab to Kennedy. She look at my printout and then said “Oh, I can do better than that.” And promptly changed our tickets to fly directly to Kennedy. Little things have been happening like that ever since we changed from the DSM Gold to the Platinum. Now they ASK us where we’d like to sit. So nice. This year we had row 18 both ways in the Economy Plus area of the plane. It’s still the cattle car but since I don’t want to use those precious miles to upgrade, my 6’1” husband will just have to grin and bear it and economy plus does give you a tad extra room. So, we saved the cabfare (didn’t want to chance the bus – takes longer) of around $35. and also, on the commuter train from our town to Boston, the conductor never came around to collect the $15 that we owed the T. Paul thinks it was because of the playoffs at Fenway that allowed us the free ride – I dunno but we took the freebie happily.
We arrived without fanfare in Pisa after the usual groggy redeye and proceeded out of the terminal and started our short walk to the hotel. Never in my life have I ever walked out of an airport and straight to the hotel in less than two miles! It’s a wonder the aircraft doesn’t clip the top of the leaning tower on the way to landing. It’s that close – check your google earth. Amazing. As we walked we noticed one thing above all else – the dust. Everything but everything had a layer of dust and dirt. We later found out that it hadn’t rained much more than a drizzle for three months. Ah Italy. Now Italy isn’t exactly what anyone would call a rainforest but this is October and it’s still dryer than dust, EXCEPT for today, as the skies looked to be threatening rain. We arrive at the Royal Hotel Victoria on the Arno (I had printed out the mapquest map at home from the terminal to the hotel) in less than a half hour and sure enough, they had our reservation. This is generally the only time we make a reservation for lodging as we like to have somewhere to go after we land. Other than that it’s usually “No Reservations” and that’s the way we like it, so that we’re free to walk as little or as much as we care in a single day and just end up at a b&b somewhere; always a bit of an adventure. The Royal Victoria was great with a huge room, wonderful staircases – I love stairs – and a breakfast buffet to beat the band, as we would find out the next morning.
After ditching our major league backpacks (purchased a few months ago specifically for hiking and a thousand times better than the old ones), I take my little day pack, stow it with our passports and other important papers and off we go to find the bus to take us out to Marina di Pisa to take a look at the Mediterranean and dunk the soles of our boots in, pick up and pocket a pebble to carry to the Adriatic, and begin the real part of the “walk”. The bus stop for busses heading out of Pisa was only about a half mile from the hotel, the fare was nominal and the ride was less than interesting. We watch for landmarks and signs because I wanted to stop a bit before the town of Marina di Pisa and thus have less miles to walk back to the hotel. We hit the stop cord at just the right moment and hopped off. It’s raining. Sure, it doesn’t rain for three months until we arrive to walk across the country. Right. Got it. Unperturbed we head for the nearest bit of sea which is another little walk of maybe 300 yards, scramble down the rocks and with our own little fanfare, dip our boots in the water. I wasn’t watching and a wave rose up and covered my boot. Oh heck. But Paul had rubbed the mink oil in so well at home that the water just beaded up and rolled off. The man knows how to take care of boots – he was a telephone lineman for 20 years before going into the engineering sector.
We each choose a small stone to take with us and off we go, back to the hotel by foot, the only way to travel! At home, I had figured it would be 8 miles from Marina di Pisa to the Royal Victoria but now I was hoping for just 7. Of course we hadn’t slept on the plane much more than an hour and we were both pretty zonked, but walking doesn’t take that much out of you (at least it doesn’t for us) and it certainly doesn’t require much attention when all one needs to do (today) is follow the Arno. No problem. However, it wasn’t raining when we left the hotel so we didn’t bring our rain jackets or baseball caps. My Covidien Red Sox cap (I work for Covidien, a global healthcare company, the BEST company) was still buried in my backpack as was Paul’s. Ah well, nothing to be done about it now. To say that the walk back was uneventful is probably the understatement of the year. It was flat and, well, trashy. We couldn’t believe the amount of trash by the side of the road. Water bottles, cigarette packets, used syringes, nasty used “personal” items, more cigarette packets, more bottles. Wow. It kind of looked like Route 1 in the 1950’s. On the way to school back then (in the 50’s – I’m 58), we used to play Lucky Strike. Whoever could run ahead and stomp on the most Lucky Strike packets on the way to school, won. I don’t know what we won but it passed the time I guess. My father died at age 56 from lung cancer – two packs of Luckies a day did the trick. Now we’re here at the western edge of Tuscany and there are Lucky Strike packets enough to wallpaper an entire home. Go figure.
Anyway, we got back to the Hotel Royal Victoria after walking 7.2 miles and decide to hit the hay. It is 3:15 and it took 2 hours and 40 minutes so apparently I wasn’t up to speed just yet! We are zonked and brush our teeth, crash into bed and sleep – glorious sleep. We can get a pizza later – much later.
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Walking Across Italy: Pisa to Ravenna