29 September 2012

Travel + Leisure Global Bazaar 2012 Kickoff Party

Arresting to the senses. Words cannot explain how much fun the Travel + Leisure Global Bazaar 2012 Kickoff Party was. The drinks were overflowing, the booths were entertaining and the decor was very well done. Kudos to every one who made this event possible! It literally was like going into the pages of Travel + Leisure magazine.


Belly dancers! Entertainment even before you enter the event!

Awesome costumed server... and they got someone who looked the part!

Barbados meets India

Yes, LOTS and LOTS of music!


Dessert by Johnny Iuzzini

Yes, that's him!

Scott Conant

Ravioli and Caramel Pot de Creme (Scott Conant)

Tim Love

Elk Sausage Sliders (Tim Love)

At the Patron booth, they let you muddle your own mojito!

and you get to get your own engraved muddler!


Silly Tourist Photo


Spices in the Moroccan Tent


Thumbs up!
All in all it was EXTREMELY FUN, and I can't wait to go back and do it all over again!

**** Disclosure ****

Many thanks to Girl Gone Travel for the opportunity to attend this weekend long event! Girl Gone Travel is written by Carol Cain and she is a Travel + Leisure Global Bazaar Ambassador. These awesome tickets were given as a giveaway prize on her blog. And I WON THEM! woohoo!

I was not required to blog about this, nor was I compensated for this post. This is a blog that is written by me, and does not reflect the opinions of anyone else but me.

15 September 2012

Italy – Daytrip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Florence for 9 Euros!

One of Italy’s most known architectural structures is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a freestanding bell tower that tilted to one side because the foundation on ground on one side was too soft to support its own weight.

This campanile is part of the Piazza dei Miracoli otherwise known as Piazza del Duomo where there are four great religious structures – the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Campanile (Leaning Tower) and the Camposanto Monumentale.

How to spend the least amount of money on this daytrip from Florence: 

1.     Find out these two train schedules:

a.     Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Pisa Centrale
b.     Pisa S. Rossore back to Firenze SMN.
Keep in mind that your one-way ticket is good for 4 hours after validation; so pick the ones that will fit this timeframe, so you only pay for a one-way ticket. A one-way ticket will set you back about 8,20€.

EDIT 6/12/2013 - The validity of regional trains have changed to 4 hours - when I did this trip, my ticket was valid for 6 hours - and it was enough time to tour Pisa from Florence and go back on a one-way ticket. Now, you should buy a round trip ticket. Read more about Trenitalia here.
Trenitalia Ticket to Pisa S Rossore


because this is a station that is farther than Pisa Centrale coming from Florence, but take whatever train that goes to Pisa Centrale on your way to Pisa.

3.     Validate your ticket at the last possible moment. 

2 minutes before the train leaves is just about right BUT NEVER GET ON THE TRAIN WITHOUT VALIDATION.

Train ticket validating machine.

4.     Get off Pisa Centrale. 

Click here for walking directions. It takes about 30-45mins walking at a leisurely pace. These are some of the things you will see on the way to the Piazza Dei Miracoli:

Vittorio Emanuele II Statue 
That is NOT Ross Dress for Less.

The sad truth is, you pay a "cover charge" to sit in a lot of places.

5.     You need tickets to get inside the buildings. 

only bought the 2-attraction ticket and just spent time taking pics.

6.     Walk to Pisa S. Rossore Station.

Google maps can’t point the exact way, but here’s anapproximation of how I got there. When you get to Via Andrea Pisano, ask for directions on how to get to the stazioni, just to make sure.

Of course "not eating lunch there" does not mean that I can't stop for dessert! (uhm, snacks?)
Pastries from Salza, the oldest patisserie in Pisa
La Borsa Gelato (I eat gelato every chance I get.)
I didn't eat lunch there, BUT I SNACKED!!!!

I ate my breakfast in Firenze with the intention of having lunch in Firenze AFTER my visit to Pisa to avoid paying for my return ticket. However, there was a fire on the train tracks on my way back and we got stranded at a random stop. Along with the other passengers, we waited for a bus to take us to a different station and caught the train there to get back to Florence.

That's my mom in her hat, keeping her cool and trying to be not
annoyed at me while I grabbed lunch.
Doner Kebab! Yes. I was eating this shawarma-ish snack and I tell you,
it was pretty good!
Other passengers scrambling to get into the bus to get to a different
train station. 

Let me say it again - in the event that something like that happens – follow everyone else, and DON’T GET HYSTERICAL. Every one is stranded just like you – so find out what the wait time is and immediately find a bathroom, get yourself something to eat or drink (if something is available nearby) and try to be friendly with another passenger who understands Italian and can translate what is going on for you.

You'll be fine - and it's a better story to tell when you get home. 

Here are the tourist photos!

It is smaller than you think it is. See the scale?
The Baptistery is the building with the red brick roof,
Duomo in the middle and the Campanile (Leaning Tower) in the back.
Inside the Baptistery (that's how Wiki spells it.)
Camposanto Monumentale from the Baptistery

View of the Duomo from the Baptistery

Leading to the main altar of the Duomo
Yes, that's the magnificent ceiling.

Pews of the Duomo
Urna di San Ranieri (Bones of St. Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa)

Don't forget to buy presents for all your friends named David. ;)


Other blogposts in this series:

Italy: Practical Travel Advice