2012 Grand Tour, Portofino, er ,sorry make that Pisa!

Sometimes things go wrong.  Anyone who has organised their own holidays to any degree knows this.  Heck, sometimes it goes wrong when you’ve paid someone else to do it for you!

We left Turin after 3 splendid days.  Walked round to collect the car, packed away and set off for Portofino.  If you dont know it, its quite an elitist little town which lies at the end of a small peninsula on the west coast of Italy.  The road drops off the autostrada, then winds down to the coast and then describes every inlet along the way.  Cars parked along the road side do not make for relaxing – or swift – travel. It’s a bit posh and cruise ships make it one of their stops from time to time.

We arrived at about 1600 and were told by the local police that we could only park in the municipal multi storey car park – 50 euro for two days when I checked!  When we arrived there was a huge amount of gear being trailed along the streets, cabling and such like as it appeared we had arrived at the start of a music festival.  This gave us a clue as to what followed.  The Eden Hotel is not a fantastic hotel.  In fact its a bit down at heel, yet incredibly, it was more expensive than the city centre hotel we had just left in Turin.

The owner greeted us in his non air conditioned foyer to explain that there was a problem as his fax had not been working and he had only received our booking that morning and now?  Well he was fully booked.

Let me make it clear, I can spot a liar a mile away and this guy was LYING!  I knew he was lying because I had the booking in my hand from booking.com  who, you know?  This is 2012, they DON’T SEND confirmations by fax since about 1998!  No,I knew that someone from the festival has breezed in, offered him lucre and he had accepted it.  Maybe he thought he was onto a winner with us being English as we didn’t create a big fuss even though I could have made him ring booking.com who would tell him to give us a room.  I didn’t want his shitty room and I didn’t want to give him my money – he’d pay later when I got home.

Instead, we ran NH Hoteles, where we were due to stay in Livorno.  Couldn’t have been more helpful.  Although they could do us an extra night the day after, they couldn’t accommodate us tonight, but no worries, hold on, we’ll ring our sister hotel in Pisa for you.  This they did, confirmed a reservation for us and rang us back to confirm it.

So, although  we were now not sleeping in the car, which my wife at one stage thought we might be doing – as if.  If I chose to sleep in a car it wouldn’t be a Lancia Ypsilon, sorry –  we did now have a two hour drive to Pisa.

Spurning the relieved owners offer of  beer – probably watered down, we turned round and drove to Pisa. Once on the motorway it was a breeze, by this time we were into aperitivo hour. But, you know, two hours is two hours and I was glad when we parked up, found a decent enough pizza joint and drank cheap beer until bed time.

The following morning, the day we were now due to drive to Livorno, allowed us plenty of time as it was a scant one hour drive from Pisa.  So although we had been before, we took the opportunity to walk up to the Torre.  The last time we had been it was shrouded in scaffolding, whist some corrective work was undertaken on the ‘lean’  Today the sun shone on a beautifully unencumbered marble edifice, albeit over run with tourists all doing the “holding up the tower” picture, see below.

It’s a gorgeous square with the tower and church and baptistry.  Such a pity that everything is charged for and we weren’t in that frame of mind.  So we did the deed, took the photos and moved on to Livorno.  Our home for the next week of our tour.


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