I am no stranger to the train game here in Europe. I have taken it from Nice to Lyon, Prague to Berlin, Lyon to Grenoble, Lyon to Geneva, Lyon to Paris (and back and forth and back and forth) and now I am currently on a train from Lyon to Rome. Technically, when the day is done I will have been on three trains (Lyon–>Chambery, Chambery –> Milan & lastly, Milan –> Rome). I only have an hour layover in each stop I’m stopping at so hopefully I can find a Starbucks and upload this post as I drink a grande frappachino mocha (or…however they order the words and spell it in Italian when I’m in Milan).
I thought ahead and brought snacks with me, so I am currently taking up two seats with me and my carry on bag with an array of treats surrounding me. One liter of orange juice? Got it. A bucket of pretzels? Yep. Assorted bags of nuts? Of course. Two water bottles? Duh. Oh, and a huge kind sized bag of peanut M&Ms. I wonder if anyone can tell I’m American? (Answer: yes)
I also had my clock set five minutes later than the real time so as I strolled through the train station, looking at assorted gifts and trinkets Lyon has to offer visitors, I glanced at one of their clocks and realized my train was leaving in five minutes. I wonder if I will ever be able to comfortably arrive and get on a train ever…that generally only happens if I’m with someone. So hopefully I will be able to get my flight home without having a repeat of this. Anyway, as I run to he platform, one of the conductors makes a joke about how I’m late but I didn’t hear him so I stop running and ask him to repeat what he said, but he thought I was angry so everything was really awkward as he said “nothing!” and slunk away. No sir, I just can’t speak French.
It was not hard to leave Lyon today though since it is currently raining and colder than usual. I saw that the forecast for Rome is sort of the same, just a little warmer, so sorry in advance for all of the grey skies in the background of all my photos. I brought my umbrella just in case it does rain, or I need to fight off creepy Italian men from stealing my purse.
Also, on the first train, I was one of two people in the car! I didn’t sleep, even though I probably should have, but instead I attempted to watch Lincoln (which I downloaded last night from iTunes as a rental) but then found out my iPad didn’t ACTUALLY download it so now I have to wait to get to the hostel I’m staying at in order to watch it. Maybe a family a rats will come watch it with me (I’m staying in an apparently really horrible place. Awesome) or maybe my iPad will get stolen half way through (I’m paranoid of everything being taken from me in Rome. Too many bad stories). So instead of watching Lincoln, I mostly stared outside at the really foggy French countryside and ate pretzels. I didn’t even listen to music. What has France made me become?!
The second train was the longest one of the day, and spent it playing video games after telling myself I was going to get some work done…whoops. But it was a TGV train so it was at least comfortable the entire time (even though the looks I got from everyone for eating a half bag of M&Ms were anything but comfortable).
There was a snooty French lady with a small dog sitting across from me, who made a big deal that someone sat in her seat for five seconds. Not very eventful, especially since I really wasn’t paying attention to anything untillllll I saw snow. There was a CRAZY amount of snow between Chambery and Milan and a crazy mountain range (hello Alps) and so I sat and stared at that for a minute and tried to take some pictures but instead just got a bunch of pictures of my reflection. It was pretty magical looking though. Also, I was the only person on the train who had any reaction when the conductor got on the over-com and announced that we had entered into Italy…what’s wrong with these people! Look at where you live and what you’re doing!
As soon as I entered Italy, all of the signs just look like someone took French words and then threw them into a washing machine. So I have no idea what anything says, despite my trying. I also attempted to try and ask if someone spoke English but instead it just sounded like I had a mental handicap. Either way, the guy I asked was really nice and told me to “take the underground” to the next stop for the other train station I had to go to. Okay sir, are we from England?
On the last train, I was completely exhausted because I had not drank caffeine all day and had to wake up early in order to get to the train on time this morning and so as soon as the Asian businessmen took their seats next to me, I fell asleep. Well, attempted to. Every so often they would burst into laughter and I would lift up my head and look at them or what they were laughing at, and then would alllllmost be asleep again and then it would happen again. They also were taking pictures of everything (literally! I’m sure they have pictures of me asleep. They even asked the man who brought coffee through the cars if they could get a photo with one of the guys) or taking video. So maybe my dad is actually an Asian businessman? I’m sure he also has video of me asleep on a train somewhere in the endless hours of video he has taken.
I was too self conscious to take pictures of the Italian countryside on this train because of the businessmen taking a million photos and I didn’t want to be associated with them (read next paragraph to find out why), but it was very foggy and was already dusk, so even if I had taken them, they would have been like my previous snow pictures. And also, I guess this is also true in America but I have only taken the train a few times (and it was only from the ranges of San Diego to Santa Barbara), the only things that are right outside of the train window usually are shanty towns since they are unregulated spaces or just a bunch of walls with graffiti on them. However, we did occasionally pass a little town which would have just a few dozen buildings which were all painted bright colors (something I wish France would do. Not everything needs to be white, France! C’mon!) and those were cute (but again, the photo issue).
Also, and most importantly, there was also a mob boss on the train and he sat diagonal from me, across the row. Literally have never seen a man so terrifying or so resembling Marlon Brando. But he gave me a nod as the Asian businessmen woke me up for the 30th time, so he was cool with me. Hopefully he didn’t put out a hit on them. Either way, who wears a full suit on a train and goes out every half hour to take another call, except for a mob boss? Welcome to Italy! (Welcome-o to-oh Italie-o!)
I wasn’t able to find Internet in any of the train stations I was at during the breaks, so I am currently now at the hostel here in Rome, which is quite certainly a one star hotel. I’m sharing a room with 4 other people, but I have not met them yet. After posting this, I’m going to venture out to find some dinner and then am going to pass out for a full day tomorrow! Hurray!
I think I am most excited to see how Italian wine stands up to French wine, and same with coffee. One of the girls I know who studied abroad in Rome last semester said that the coffee was the best in the world, but she had never been to France (except for Paris but that really, really doesn’t count at all). I will be sure to take a million pictures of everything I eat and see, and hopefully I will get through the weekend without getting anything stolen or losing anything. Pray for my phone and iPod y’all.
If I’m not inducted into the mob, I will let you all know how my trip to Rome went when I return to Lyon on Monday. Or maybe earlier if the crowds prove to be too much at the Vatican and I go to a cafe instead. Until then! (I would write that in Italian but I literally don’t know how to say anything. This will be a very long weekend.)