Thursday, 24 March 2011

Packed in like sardines, on our way to an appropriate place

March 14, 2011

We got up at 6:30, bathed, dressed and headed to the nearby train station. We caught a train to Pisa, Italy at 8:05. Finding occasion to utilize the sanitary facility on the moving train, I looked down into the toilet and saw the ground rushing by. That’s right, the sanitary disposal techniques on Trenitalia consist of dumping feces and urine directly onto the ground and letting nature take its course.

We got into Pisa around 9:30 A.M., local time. We decided we had time to see the leaning tower. We took a cab to the tower to assure enough time to evaluate the degree of lean, and got over there pretty quick. I am happy to report that the tower is indeed, still leaning.
I took some photos to document, as this is one of the tasks set me by my fellow co-workers, and then we jumped into the cab to head back and catch the train for Pisa Airport. On the way we ran into a snag. A car had parked just far enough away from the community dumpsters to make it impossible for a bus to make the turn onto the narrow street, and said bus had it’s butt sticking out into our street and we were going nowhere fast. A cop came along and wrote the guy a ticket, but still we sat there. We decided to walk the last ten or twelve blocks to the train station with our assorted luggage. About three blocks from the scene of the crime we were passed by the bus and another bus and a gaggle of traffic. A lesson in the virtues of patience.

We got back in time to catch the airport train, and headed into the airport to catch our flight.
Alden and I went over to the counter to check two pieces of luggage, and Rachel waited for us. The two pieces of luggage cost us 101 euros to check. I noticed that nobody else was checking luggage.
We came back to Rachel to find her comforting a young woman. Her name was Lucia, and she had had her wallet stolen from her purse while on the train to the airport. On a side note, we have been advised that pickpockets are rife in this area, and if you don’t pay particular attention to your wallet, it will leave you for another’s company with no compunction. Hers had done exactly that, and she could NOT board her flight without a printout that would cost her 40 euros. Rachel tried calling her mom and dad, but since it was 2:00 in the morning at her folks, they did not answer. We gave her 50 euros and exchanged our phone and emails, and wished her well. We found out later that we helped her get to Nice, and she arrived safely.

We boarded our Ryan Air flight and flew over the Mediterranean Sea. We couldn’t see it because of clouds, but I imagined it very clearly. On the flight there was no free anything. Beverages were sold by the flight attendants with an accompanying radio commercial being played over the loudspeaker. The sound was of a drink being opened and poured.
They sold Ryan Air lottery tickets where you could win 1 million euros, watches, and even perfume.
When we finally de-planed in Cagliari, our luggage was the only two pieces of luggage on the belt. No one else had been inexperienced enough to have to check luggage. We grabbed our luggage and headed out the door. Salvatore and Angela Maria were waiting for us with a “welcome” balloon and an Italian flag, and after the traditional two-sided kiss greeting we headed into the city.

It was the usual thrill ride to a palatial house in Cagliari and lunch with spumante, welcoming toast, octopus, roasted balsamic tomatoes, lasagna (artichoke, mushroom, wine, parmesan), ciabatta rolls, and roasted baby pig.
We finished up with a huge platter of marzipan, special Sardegna cakes, and almond brittle.
We had red wine with the main course, and dessert wine for dessert.

Salvatore took us on a tour of town where we saw buildings which were built in the 1500’s, bomb sites from 2nd world war, and panoramic views of city and Mediterranean Sea.
They brought an extra car to the beach house, which I am apparently expected to drive into the city tomorrow.

The beach house is a villa located on the shore of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. We can hear frogs croaking and the surf with the window open.
The sky is cloudy tonight, but we are hoping for sun tomorrow.

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