by Melinda Gallo

Planes, trains, and no bus

Yesterday we thought we had all the time in the world. Our plane was leaving Pisa at 10:55PM. We walked around searching for the last few items on our list. And we walked, not ran around. It was a beautiful and sunny day in Florence and we took in all that we could.

As our departure time from the house was coming closer, we ran down to a small Chinese take-out to get some dinner. It was only 6:40PM and we were planning on calling a cab at around 7PM. We didn't get out of the Chinese restaurant until 7:08. On the way walking back to our place, I called for a cab. I ended up calling 4 times as each time they put on a recording that said there weren't any taxis available.

Finally the woman said, "Fra due minuti" (In two minutes). We grabbed as much of our luggage as we could and went downstairs. When we got there, the taxi was already waiting outside for us. Dave had to go back up to get one last piece of luggage and the man said, "Spero che nessuno viendra ora" (I hope no one will come now). I looked both ways down our one way street (which no one seems to agree in which one way it goes) and said, "Non c'č quasi mai nessuno che passa qui in macchina" (There's hardly anyone who comes by in a car here). It was the first time I ever heard a taxi driver concerned. Generally, they leave their cars in the streets, waiting for people to get in and out and make others wait. Not that they're rude, but people generally understand and do not honk.

It was 7:22PM when we got in the taxi. Our bus to Pisa was at 7:30PM. How I was praying that they wouldn't be punctual for once! We arrived and the taxi driver let us out right next to the bus. I ran to tell the man that we were coming and he asked me for my airplane tickets. I showed him our e-ticket and he said, "Mi dispiace perņ qualche mese fa abbiamo cambiato il nostro servizio e č solo per i passageri di RyanAir e qualche altra compagnia aerea" (I'm sorry but a few months ago, our service changed and we only take passages for RyanAir and a few other airline companies).

I asked (or rather pleaded) that he take us and he responded that "Potrebbero fermarci e fare un controllo dei passageri" (They might stop us and check the passengers in the bus). Someone is really going to stop a bus on the highway and check each of the passengers to make sure? I doubt it, but there was nothing I could do.

We ran into the train station to catch a train to Pisa. The only train was the one to Pisa-centrale (downtown) and then we were supposed to change. The train was at 7:37 and it was already 7:33. I asked the man when I went to buy tickets when the next train was in case we miss it and he responded, "Ci deve aspettare qualche ora" (You'd have to wait a few hours). We ran toward the train because unfortunately, they always seem to leave on time when you're running late.

We threw our luggage on the train and as we sat down, the signal went off and the doors shut. We couldn't even sit together because of our luggage, but we were both a bit stressed out and exhausted.

As we were on the bus for almost an hour and a quarter, I began to wonder. Was this the right train? It seemed to take forever and I saw town names I've never heard of (not like I know that many near Pisa anyway). Finally, our train stopped at the main station and we jumped off. We went down the two flights of stairs to come back up two more flights to get to the terminal to find out when our next train would be. It wasn't for another 10 minutes. We figured we'd just go outside and get a taxi.

We got to the taxi line and I asked a guy who was standing there if he was waiting for a taxi. He said he was and asked me if we were going to the airport and then he said, "Possiamo prendere un taxi insieme" (We can take a taxi together). I knew he wasn't Italian and so I asked him where he was going. "Francaforte" (Frankfurt), he said. When it was time to pay the taxi driver, he gave him 11 Euros and I tried to give him 6 Euros, but he wouldn't take it. I told Dave to give him 5 Euros and he took it.

We were happy to just be at the airport that I almost wanted to kiss the ground. I'm surprised we made it this far with barely a minute to spare.

We walked inside the terminal and luckily we were fairly early, so no one was in line. I pulled out my e-ticket and gave the woman our passports. We were afraid that our two pieces of luggage would be overweight. So much so, that we even borrowed our neighbor's scale to check.

The woman at the counter asked us for our carry-on and told us that we must weight them and they shouldn't be over 6 kilos (13.2 pounds). Mine was 12 and Dave's was 19! She told us to check one of the bags in. I told her that we couldn't because we had our computers in one and I had a ceramic bowl in the other. I asked her what else we could do and all she gave me as a solution was to check one in. We were surprised by such a new rule, but we tried as best as we could to follow it. We checked in one bag and our bags still ended up being over, but there was nothing else we could do: portables are not that light!

When we got on the plane, I was watching other people as they put their luggage in the overhead bins. I was, of course, unhappily surprised that a few people had huge carry-ons that were well over 6 kilos.

Once we landed, we walked and walked the empty halls to go to the passport control, get our luggage, and then walk to the hotel (which was located in the same terminal). It was great to just walk to the hotel so we could go to sleep immediately. It was only 12:30AM here, but that's 1:30AM for us.

I had a hard time going to sleep as I was still feeling stress from this evening's events. I woke up early at 7AM (instead of 8AM) and remembered that I didn't pay to go on the Internet, which the hotel is charging 1 Pound (about $1.80) for two minutes. Instead we got on at the airport with Wi-Fi.

Now, we're leaving for San Francisco...can't wait!

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!