Obviously, since the universe never allows me to have a simple vacation, I happened to visit during one of the first major heatwaves in years. I checked the weather app on my phone. 92 degrees fahrenheit, 85% humidity. I stuffed my phone back in my bag with a exasperated sigh. The tour bus, as it usually does not experience such weather, had no treatment from the heat other than an overhead fan over each seat. The italian countryside rolled by my window. Lots of sunflowers, for whatever reason. The ride from Florence to Pisa was about two hours, and with my nintendo 3Ds out of charge, I had not much else to do but stare out the window. The outskirts of Florence was very reminiscent to the southern United States.I spent the time reflecting on my morning trip to Florence, which is essential background information for the fiasco I will experience in Pisa.
So, first of all, I wasn't traveling in Italy alone with my family. My parents had a Marriott membership that was a wedding gift they received 20 years ago and since they never used their points on anything, they had enough for a mediterranean cruise. The cruise line offered tours, which we had one scheduled for every day. Today we were going to Florence and Pisa to see the Statue of David and the Leaning Tower. We were packed into a tour bus with fellow cruisers and sent off. This is where I introduce a major character in my story, a boy around the age of 19 who my family has lovingly nicknamed "Free Wi-fi" due to the fact that he was constantly on the lookout for free wi-fi. He was cruising with his Grandma, and they were filthy rich. They claimed to be from the upper east side in Manhattan, just to give you an idea of how rich they were. I first met them when we were waiting on line to get in to see the Statue of David. His grandma was an extremely talkative woman, mentioning that he is "her favorite grandson" because “he usually wanders off with the group, but he always comes back." He complained that he hadn't seen a Starbucks since we got here and he needed wi-fi. I told him that Starbucks failed in italy due to the drastically different coffee consumption habits. He wanted no part of it. He told his grandma he was going off to find a Starbucks or a cafe with wi-fi and left. The statue of David is
much bigger than you expect, and we had a great time without him slinking around the seedy back roads of Florence. Florence is a scary town by the way, I wouldn't recommend visiting.
So eventually Free Wifi returned to the group and we boarded the bus and made our way to Pisa. We got there and it was still hot, no surprise. There was a small ice cream parlor right outside the tower that gave us free water, so we made that our group meeting point. The tower can not allow continuous access up and down because the tower may fall after a few years and the stairwell was pretty narrow, so they only allow 30 people up every half an hour. Our appointment to climb was in 45 minutes, so the group split up and shopped at the long line of vendors selling souvenirs. I photobombed a few people who were taking that touristy "look i'm holding up the tower" picture by high fiving them as I passed. We were expected to wait outside the tower for the rest of the group. Free Wi-Fi and his grandma were there, but she was old and refused to climb. She held their bags and told her grandson to experience the tower. We all went up without incident.
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So first of all, the tower is not an easy climb in the slightest. I never really put two and two together, but the stairwell is leaning along with the tower. Each step is also worn in the middle due to hundreds of years of climbing, which was cool. My family reached the top, exhausted, hot and sweaty. Free Wi-fi was already at the top, scrolling away on his phone. He found Wi-fi at the top of the tower. We were expected to meet back at the ice cream parlor in half an hour, so we booked it down the stairs and out the courtyard back to the parlor. We were
the first ones there, and eventually more and more group members returned.
However, Free Wi-fi and his grandmother were nowhere to be found.
So, we waited 15 minutes.
Nowhere to be found. The shit was leaving the dock in 2 and a half hours, and the ride home was an hour and a half. The group had to leave them behind. We made our way back to the bus, making jokes at the couple's expense.
Riding home, looking at the sunflowers roll by again. It's been an hour, we're almost back to the dock. The tour guide receives a phone call.
It's Free Wi-fi and his grandmother.
They are pissed, to say the least. Screaming over the phone about being abandoned, how they'll sue, they'll be talking to the cruiseline about this, etc. They demanded that we turn the bus around and get them. The boat was leaving in a hour, the ride to Pisa alone was an hour and a half. We couldn't turn around. We left the tour bus, all excited to find out about what will happen to them. Apparently he found Wi-fi at the top of the tower and lost track of time.
And that's the story of how a spoiled 19 year old kid caused a entire cruise of thousands of people to be delayed for 4 hours all because he found wi-fi at the top of a cultural icon.
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