Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Day 1: Ormskirk->Birmingham->Pisa->Florence

First day, typically spent pretty much entirely on trains, aeroplanes and in airports. Set off from my house at 10:30am, train to Birmingham, train to Solihull, lift to airport, flight to Pisa, train to Florence, and now sitting in the hostel for the first few days, which thankfully has wifi.

In general the first day has gone fairly smooth. Nobody got strip-searched at the airport or forgot their passport or any other major drama. We had an hour wait at Pisa airport for the train to Florence on account of there basically being one an hour. The train was only €7 each though, which wasn't so bad. First thing of note is that there seem to be weird tax charges for so much stuff over here. We have to pay €2 city tax each for each night we stay in Florence, and there was an odd extra charge on the train tickets too.

Apparently I don't have a means of charging the camera, because rather than the camera actually having a charger, you have to take the battery out and charge it separately. I do have a USB cable that can connect the camera to my netbook, but currently it's unclear whether that actually charges it or not, and the only way to properly tell would involve letting the battery run down to 2/3 charge, at which point I'm fairly screwed if it turns out it doesn't work. So for the moment the camera will be used fairly sparingly and sans-flash to try and keep the battery alive for the next four weeks.

First proper drama was arriving late at the hostel, where there appeared to be absolutely nobody about. It's not quite the traditional hostel, but more a single room flat off a tiny staircase that serves as a reception, with a weird sprawling network of rooms behind it. On arrival outside the staircase there was absolutely nobody around and ringing the doorbell gave no response whatsoever We managed to get in by tail-gating some guy coming out, and then found the hostel reception door, again with no answer on the other side. It did have a phone number on the outside, which Jamie rang, and managed to summon the guy to let us in and sort out the room and payment and stuff.

Apparently the toilet in the room cost €800, something that was made abundantly clear to us a good four or five times as the owner made it particularly clear that we shouldn't put any rubbish or toilet paper down it. It's probably good that he put so much emphasis on telling us this, because the sign next to the toilet offered no help whatsoever:

Anyway, sleep now and up fairly early tomorrow for sight-seeing in town.

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