Friday, September 9, 2005

Events en Route

I went to sleep last night thinking I wouldn't have anything to write about at the end of the day today, but boy was I wrong.

We ended up not going to sleep last night. Just stayed up until it was time to head to the airport, which we decided would be 4:30am. As we were walking up Damrack towards the train station we were stopped by two guys wanting to know where a good place to hang out was (at 4:30 in the morning I would like to add). They claimed they were from the US and had just arrived. One said he was from New York (though his accent clearly indicated this was not the case), the other said he was from Orange County.

I'm not exactly sure why one would pick the two girls with no makeup on walking down the street with massive packs strapped to their backs to ask for partying advice, but they did. Unfortunately we couldn't help them. They kept trying to carry on a conversation and I finally had to explain that we needed to go catch our flight (we had plenty of time, but the packs were really heavy and we just wanted to reach our destination).

Later on we were in the airport, and wouldn't you know, the same two guys are hanging out at our gate. I had made the mistake of telling them we were headed to Geneva. They had followed us to the airport! But luckily we lost them after that.

Flying in to Geneva was different than flying in to the other cities. Not only was the descent much steeper, they also descended in a spiral motion. I guess they didn't really want to run into any mountains along the way.

Immigration consisted of showing the guy our passports. No questions, no forms to fill out (like in Canada or London), nothing. He didn't even stamp my passport - and I was looking forward to a stamp from Switzerland. Customs again consisted of walking through an empty room.

Next it was off to the train station. Unfortunately the train we had intended to take was full, so we had to choose an alternate route, meaning we would arrive at our final destination at around 10pm, rather than 9:30pm. First was Geneve (Geneva) to Milano (Milan).

The countryside through Switzerland and Northern Italy is just amazing. Absolutely beautiful. I wanted to just tell them to let me off right there. I could have just lazed around and read my book for hours. We went through a section of the Alps where the clouds above were clinging to the sides of the mountains, completely white but so solid you couldn't see the sky above them. I felt like I was in that Heidi movie.

When we arrived in Milano we checked the board that indicated we should wait for our next train (to Bologna) on platform 15. We had about an hour and a half, so we hung out on the platform for awhile. Some guy that had been sitting there almost the entire time we had asked us to keep an eye on his bag for a short time, and when he came back he asked if we were going to Bologna as well, then informed us that they had switched the platform to 13 rather than 15. If I had not agreed to watch his bag for 2 minutes, we would never have figured that out and would have completely missed our train.

The train we got on in Bologna (to Arezzo) was set up differently than the others we had been on so far. Rather than an open space with many seats, this train was split into 6 person rooms (similar to the train in Eurotrip with the creepy Italian guy). We chose a room with an Asian guy who spoke no English but helped Jessica and I put our bags up. Just before the train started moving, he got up and headed off to the bathroom. Two other people joined our room (both of whom spoke Italian and no English whatsoever), but as soon as the train took off, we heard the sound of someone puking in the bathroom, which we were right next to. This guy wasn't just throwing up, it sounded as if he were actually trying to dislodge his stomach. This went on for about an hour. Then he came back to the room, looking like he had just ran 30 miles - soaked with sweat from head to toe. He laid down accross two seats and began moaning. After a few minutes, he passed out. One of the officials on the train came by, as well as about 8 onlookers. They then proceeded to poke him awake and try to talk to him in Italian. He ended up waking up, just in time to yak on the floor of our room. Jessica and I grabbed our stuff and headed to another room. They called an ambulance to meet us at the next stop and carted him off to the hospital.

All this meant we were running a bit late, which led me to panic a little, since we only had 15 minutes between trains at the next stop. I called my bro to have him look up the next train, just in case we missed our connection. But the train we were on booked it to Arezzo, arriving only 2 minutes late. But then our next train was running 20 minutes late. We ended up making it to Cortona at 10:30pm. Only an hour late.

After saying hello to Porter, Keith, Tania, Jessica and I headed down to the local wine tasting shop for dinner. We had some amazing meat, cheese and bread with some nice wine and good conversation. Last but not least we walked down to the local English Pub for some drinks with some locals.

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