Abhi’s birthday treat was supposed to be a trip to the beach. The nearest beaches would have been Viareggio or Livorno and because we hadn’t gone to Livorno before, we decided to head in that direction. After waking up late, getting ready, talking to the families and cutting the cake we were ready to head out but we had already missed the direct train. So we had to wait for nearly an hour and a half before the next train. We caught the 12:59 train to Pontremoli and changed over at Pisa centrale. Just as we were entering Pisa centrale we could see dark mean clouds hanging over us. We could see the odd thunder and lightning too. Not a good sign is what I thought, but kids had a better idea. For them making sand castles with wet sand is easier than dry sand so they were happy! I’d love to go back to childhood and not worry about anything. It was roasting hot when we left Florence and here in Pisa Anoushka was complaining about it being cold. We just had minutes to change trains and we got on to the next train. Till Livorno, we were enjoying the sights, Pisa airport, the containers, the cars, etc. Just after we left Livorno the scenery changed. It was a coastal ride. On the right was cliffs dropping down to the sea and I refused to peel off my eyes from that beautiful sight to see what was on my left! Every now and then there would be a bridge connecting two cliffs and in between we could see a little beach or coves and inlets. The clear blue sea with a rocky coast was beautiful and with the dark mean skies and clouds rolling in from all directions made it even better. When the 35 minute journey came to an end, we got off on to sleepy little station of Castiglioncello with the rain just about starting. We got into the tourist information centre on the station and took a couple of maps, crossed the road and walked into the pine forest near the coast, hoping to walk to the beach. It was drizzling slightly and walking in that drizzle in to the huge pine trees was interesting
The kids were running around and having fun. Probably because of the weather there weren’t too many people around. We tried to walk to the beach and saw that the coast nearby was rocky and not much of a beach was seen, and by then it started raining heavily. We ran back to the station and waited and waited, and in the mean time the kids had something to eat and had started sulking because they couldn’t play in the beach. They were even walking in and out of the station getting wet in the rain. At one stage we decided that there was no point in waiting for the rain to stop and we would take the next train direct to Florence half an hour later, but just as we bought our return tickets and validated it, the sky decided to clear up and the rain decided to stop. So now it was our turn to venture out and check out the beach. I asked the English speaking woman at the information centre and she gave us directions. We wandered off and found something that looked like a beach. All the beach umbrellas down and all the boats and yachts moored because of the rain. But where is the sand? No idea…. and is this what they call a beach? Are we lost? Nope, this is their idea of a beach a little place with very little sand, actually felt more like gravel and little waves lashing at the shore.
Thankfully it was empty and there was enough place for the kids to play in the “sand”. We splashed around in the water for sometime and then the kids started to build their sand castles. I walked on the shore with the waves washing my feet, not exactly my kind of beach but who cares? There was some kind of sand, it was the clear blue sky in front of me, lovely weather and soft waves were washing my feet and what more could I ask for. When we felt it was time to leave, we asked the kids to wash up and clean and they would wash their hands and legs and run to their sand castle and mess up and run again to wash up!
We finally left the beach and headed to the station to take the next train heading towards Pisa Centrale. We did not get time to see anything in Castiglioncello other than the station, the pine forest and the beach. But we had a great time nonetheless! We got off at Pisa Centrale and had to change trains but at that stage Abhi and Prakash decided that it would be better to go off and visit the leaning tower once again and see if there was any chance of making it straight! So instead of getting on to the next train we walked out and took the next bus to the Leaning Tower! As expected, it was the weekend and the place was crowded. The free tickets for the day to visit the Basilica was all finished and the queues to go up the tower were long so we decided to walk around, do the usual photographs and get out. We had to wait a while for the bus and when we got back to the station and got on the next train we were ready to fall asleep.
But the sky outside looked interesting with beautiful colours of purple, pink, orange, grey and blue! It was good to be back home and get into the shower and get something to eat before hitting bed! Yet another place visited and only wants us to explore more……..