Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Milan to Geneva, Part 2

Well, I'm back to regale you with more vacation stories. Yeah, yeah, this is the longest vacation post in blog history. I know. It's taking me forever to finish it!

So now I have to tell you my story of the Geneva train...and how we almost missed it.

The day before our trip, Jess had gone to the ticket booth in the train station and bought the tickets for our passage from Milan to Geneva. The ticket agent wasn't all that helpful, speaking almost no English, so we were lucky to get the tickets, let alone make the train the next day.

We arrived at the train station with about 15 minutes to spare. The train station has a large platform, 22 tracks wide. We were waiting on the train and track to be announced. Of course, no English, all Italian. So Paris was Parigi; Turin was Torino; Brussels was Bruxelles; Rome was Roma; etc. The names were close to their English counterparts, but some were more obscure than others.

So we look at the board, and the train to Genova is on Track 1. Each train's cars are numbered and then inside, the seats are numbered in first class so that there is no doubt where your seat is if you're in first class. And we were.


Oh, also, the tracks come into the station in a "v" formation, where the center tracks come all the way to the front of the platform, and the tracks on the end are set back about 100 yards from the front of the platform. Like this.

Okay, so we go down to track 1 and locate the car. It's not very clearly marked. We think this is it, though, and we get on. Mind you, we're carrying all our luggage. Each one of us has two pieces plus a backpack/camera bag. The pieces are heavy, weighing about 44 lbs. each. You bring your luggage on yourself, there is no one to help you. We heaved them in, unstrapped them from each other, and put them into the luggage compartment

Jess goes to ask someone in the center of the car where our seats would be, since this car doesn't look like first class...it looks like third or fourth class.

At this moment, we found out that we needed to know more Italian than we knew.

"We're looking for our seats. Is this the train to Geneva?"

"Geneva? No...this train goes to Genoa"

"Genoa?!"

"Off! Off! Off! It's the wrong train!" Jess is shouting.

We hit the platform dragging our bags and desperately attempting to strap them back together so we can roll them. But we're in a little dilemma. We have to run the 100 yards to the front of the platform so we can find what track our train is on. I am running far ahead and my mom is behind me. Jess is further back.

I get to the platform and scan the board desperately for something that looks like Geneva. The train to Genevre is on Track 22. Track 22?! It's at the other end of the station!! And then 100 yards down! I scream to Jess that we have to go to the other end. Then I hear in Italian, "Last call for Geneva. All aboard." Running as quickly as we could through the very crowded station, we're dragging our 80 lbs. of luggage each. The wheels leave the ground and the bag topples over. Shit. Put it back together, keep running.

The train's staff is boarding. A single crew member stands outside the train, urging people aboard. We can see this but we are at the head of the platform and have to run our 100 yards to the train. Jess is about 100 yards behind us. Jess is carrying the tickets for all three of us.

I wave wildly to the crew member outside the car, who gestures firmly for us to hurry up and get on. It's hot and we're dripping. Our car is in the middle of the train, so we run even further. We heave the luggage onto the train. There isn't a luggage compartment, luggage goes with us to our seats. Great. The train bell starts ringing. We can't see Jess. Did he make it? Is he still on the platform? What do we do if he didn't make it on? We have no tickets!! I try to go back to the door to look out, but I am stopped by a crew member.

The train crew is urging us to get to our seats. The train starts moving. We still have no Jess. We don't know what seats we're in, only the car number.

To be continued...

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