It was before our trip to Pisa that I began to understand Molly’s true capabilities. To independently travel, a plethora of forms must be filled out and signed, internationally faxed and re-faxed. Not to mention the actual finding and booking of cheap but sanitary hotels or hostels.
“Sign,” she said, thrusting the forms at us. “Kai, I couldn’t remember your mom’s name. Add it here. Take these home and get them signed by your host family. Remy, do you mind coming to our Italian class so we can catch an earlier train?”
Remy gave her that amused, one eyebrow raised look that only males can really give, and readily agreed to having all of his work done for him.
The special thing about Molly was that she managed to take charge in a way that made life easier for all of us, instead of being controlling. It wasn’t long before Shelby and I would readily admit that we were so dependent on her that if she walked off of a cliff, we would follow her down, assuming the hotel was at the bottom.
In an unforeseen streak of dreary weather, it ended up raining throughout our trip to Pisa and Lucca. When we arrived at around 9 p.m., we decided to first see the leaning tower, one of the only things worth seeing in Pisa, before continuing on to Lucca, the gorgeous little town where our hostel was.
Though we were all impressed by the leaning tower, we were more astonished by all of the English we were hearing — at that point we had come to believe that the only people that spoke English were ourselves and the faraway figures we communicated with via the telephone.
We had fun wandering around Pisa, then caught the night train to Lucca, an adorable little town with amazingly preserved walls that you can run, walk, bike, or cartwheel on.
That night, we all drank a ton of red wine, realized it is not something that should be mass consumed, and went to sleep. The next day, we wandered all around the city, going to sleep with books instead of bottles.
Lucca is a gorgeous little city, and it was a great first independent travel.
Author’s note: I wrote the post above during the academic year of 2007-2008 when, not knowing one word of Italian, I decided to spend the year in Italy living with a host family. I went through School Year Abroad (SYA), a program I cannot recommend highly enough.