Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Leaning Tower of Pisa is where Galileo is said to have conducted an experiment on mass by dropping two objects of different mass, thus making us all have to answer the science question in high school of whether a feather or a rock when dropped  would reach the ground faster (provided that they are in a vacumn environment, they would arrive at the same time. Correct answer, thank you, Hub).

Pisa was not on my itinerary when I went to Europe. I'd seen too many photos of the Leaning Tower and didn't think much of it, after all, there were lots of leaning buildings in Amsterdam. But we were going to Florence and all international flights depart from Pisa instead of Florence and since Pisa is only an hour by train to Florence, it made sense to make a visit there. 

Our hostel in Pisa was one of the best we stayed in on our trip in terms of location, comfort (clean, big rooms), facilities (internet, kitchen, billiard table, staff who knows Pisa and give good information) and price (only 23 euros per person and if you get the 4 to a room, it's really comfortable, with attached bath). Hostel Walking Street  is right in the middle of the shopping street of Pisa. There are only two shopping streets in Pisa, one for high end and one for affordable clothing like Zara, which is right next to Hostel Walking Street's big medieval-looking door. The hostel is doubly secured by the heavy iron medieval front door, then a metal grill door before you climb the stairs to the third floor. From the train station to hostel, it's a short 10-minute walk (you save on taxi fares) and we arrived at midnight but the street was full of people so we felt safe. The street links to the other side of the river where  restaurants, pubs and the Leaning Tower are 15 minutes from the hostel, straight on so there are always people on the street, making it very safe to walk.

Hostel Walking St  is managed by two of the nicest people, Marco and his Thai girlfriend Anna. They were helpful and generous ("Need a hair dryer?" " Feel free to eat the cookies and the plums and peaches from my stepfather's orchard") and so nice I felt like they were friends immediately. When Anna cooked dinner, she'd share it free of charge with the hostel guests. We had two delicious dinners in the 3 nights we stayed there. Marco and Anna made Pisa feel like home. When we got back from Florence to Pisa for our flight home, we stayed at the hostel again and it was like coming home. Because the couple is so friendly and likable, guests feel comfortable to sit around the dining room and chat with them. One night about 6 of us talked well into the night about our travels, learning from each other new places and travel tips. I found that I enjoyed hostel community even though the boarders were half my age.

Hostel Walking St is right next to Zara which opens until 9 pm. The best room is the 2 beds with attached bath because the other rooms are bigger with more beds and they have to share two toilets.

I knew we found the right place to stay when I saw Mama instant noodles on the shelves  and Marco wouldn't let me pay so I let him have the change from my hostel bill. We love instant noodles with beef, mushrooms and lettuce.

The delicious gherkins were from  Anna's stepfather's farm. We love prosciutto!

Anna's pad thai was the best I've eaten, the texture just right and it was not too wet or dry.  Anna served this with dried bird's eyes chilies, super hot, from Thailand. It was really comforting to eat noodles for a change. I found baguettes sandwiches too hard, except for Spanish flat baguettes which I love.

I drool when I see this, raw prawns in a lime, fiery chili and fish sauce dressing, absolutely delicious and addictive!

His name is 'kweh teow' (pronounced with an Italiant accent. I don't know the spelling in Italian) and it means noodles in Italian, just like our flat noodles. Smelly little nervous thing that Yi loved to play with.

This ice cream shop is the most famous in Pisa. It's on the left when you cross the bridge towards the Tower. It wasn't the best ice cream I've tasted but it was good and cheap (1.50 euros per cone I think). I had the cassata flavor (dried candied fruits and citrus peel) I think it was called and I liked it. I didn't see this flavor in other ice cream places.

Bottles that lean too.

Typical pose that you cannot not do when in front of the Leaning Tower.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa really leans. In fact, it used to lean even more but the tilt was corrected in 1990 by 45cm (18 "). The tower is now held firmly by ropes and other devices and is expected to last another 200 years. Apparently, if they had made the tower with a larger base (the tower is a surprising small building), the tilt wouldn't have been so great.

The tower is actually the bell tower of the cathedral (behind the tower in the photo above).

I was surprised by the Tower. It is much smaller than I'd expected and is a beautiful building.

Every tourist (even the guys) couldn't resist doing the 'stop the leaning' pose.

She couldn't resist the fresh coconut slices (crisp, cold and yummy) at 1 euro each. When I was in Venice, I took a piece of coconut from an unmanned stand, thinking it was free because I'd seen a girl nibbling on one and coconuts are cheap back home. A guy ran after me and I caught Hub's look when I was told to pay 1 euro. In Malaysia, 1 euro can get us 2 1/2 fresh whole coconuts.


Cooking Gallery said...

The last time I was in Italy was ages ago... I should visit again one day, especially that I live so nearby to Italy now!

Anonymous said...

I will go to all these places you have mentioned on your blog next weekend :)

But I wll stay 3 days in Cinque terre, so i wlll be able to see all the 5 villages and the hiking :)

terri@adailyobsession said...

cg: u live near italy n you haven't been there in recent years?! somebody shoot you!

anon: oh, u lucky thing! but 3 days is quite many unless you like to lie in the sun. make sure to bring lots of sun block n bikinis.n sneakers. make sure also to take a boat ride. if you get a good photo of the villages (any of them) from the sea, pls send me one?? i'll post it!

TrucVy said...

you are so lucky. Pisa is one of the places I like to visit when I visit Europe. Thank you for posting all the wonderful places. I love your blog!


Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

I adore the ancient leaning tower and the coconut slices. I especially love the coconut water which I recall from my years in the caribbean. Enjoy the Wednesday!

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