What a day! After a delicious breakfast on the patio with Andreas and J., I rushed off to the airport to travel to Pisa via Munich. Flying over the Alps was astounding. While I was waiting for my bus at the Pisa airport, I noticed a purse that had been left behind on a bench, with noone around. I reckoned it belonged to the Scottish family that had just walked away, so I grabbed it and ran after them… but no. So I took it inside to turn it over to lost and found; I was a little concerned about that, wondering if it would ever turn up in the right hands intact, so I took a shufti inside to see if I could find any contact info in case I could dial directly; nothing obvious, so I went to the police substation. One of them spoke English, but he was busy, so the other one took the bag and signaled me to follow… over to the bag scanner, where they checked it for (presumably) explosives, and where I got a quick lecture on how I shouldn’t have touched the bag. Sad sad. But then it was back to the police office to wait while he shuffled around for the proper form. Then in walked an older couple, and I recognized her from her photo. “Did you lose your purse? Is this it?” I asked… and she burst into tears of relief for a couple of minutes while her husband thanked me and shook my hand. She recovered and hugged me. “It’s our first day of vacation!” She reached into her bag, “Let me give you something!” When I refused, she said she’d give something to a children’s charity, which seems reasonable. The cop asked her to check the bag for anything missing (with an apologetic look to me that I waved away)… she’d had her camera, maybe 100 euros, an address book… all stuff I’d hate to lose myself. They thanked me again, as did the cop, and I felt pretty good… not because I felt I’d done anything exceptional, but because the little bit I’d done clearly meant a lot to her.
But all this was putting me at risk of missing my bus, so I rushed out across the parking lot, just to see my bus pulling away. I ran after it, and luckily it had to make a u-turn. I waved it down and was relieved to see the driver pull over 100 meters down the road. Once I’d thanked him and caught my breath, I showed him the address of my hotel, and he seemed to nod… I wasn’t dead certain he’d signal me, so I later asked the girl sitting front of me if she knew the stop I needed, but she didn’t speak English either. After around 20 minutes, he stopped, opened the door, and waved me out… it was in the middle of nowhere, between towns, but I stepped out. The doors closed, and the girl looked pretty skeptical, but I shrugged and smiled as the bus pulled away, then turned and took stock. A barren dirt road led off the main road, and a couple of old houses stood nearby, but that was pretty much it. I thought I would have to walk into town. But I ambled down the dirt road just to make sure, and saw a “hotel” sign off in the middle of a field in the distance. And sure enough, there was the Airone Pisa Park Hotel! I’d booked it online at the lead of Chris Lilley, who flew ahead, and I was amused and surprised to find it out in the country. It’s secluded and sprawling, with a nice landscape and casual feel.
I checked in and went round to see if Chris was up for dinner (I think I woke him from a nap), and while I waited for him, I wished I’d bought my swim trunks, since the pool was right outside my door… but the last people lounging there were just leaving, so I slipped on my most bathing-suit-like boxers and dived in. I’m not that good a swimmer, so I’m a little self conscious normally, but swimming by myself, and in this setting, was great. I usually just float around, but I actually swam a few of laps, and dived in several times. Then it was out of the pool and into a quick shower (the shower had one of those wall-o-nozzles thingies, which was novel), and a bit of a read on my stoop until Chris showed up.
The buses aren’t frequent on Sunday, so the manager lent us some bikes. It was great fun biking the few kilometers into Pisa to find a restaurant. We went by the Leaning Tower of Pisa (how could I not?!) and Chris indulged me by taking a series of shctick snaps of me pushing, leaning on, and propping up the tower (again, how could I not?). We had dinner at a little trattoria, then a gelato, and headed back in the dark (luckily one bike had a red light on the back). I called M. on the house VOIP phone in the lobby (I wish she were here), and just got back in from a midnight swim to cool down.
Tomorrow it’s back to work, but it’s been a great weekend!