Italy: Day Two
Italian trains & the people who ride them
as of 9:47 a.m.
A lovely view from Stazione Centrale Ovest. Disclaimer: I took this on my way in, which was a good thing since I had no time for such things on my way out!
After a harrowing thought-we-would-miss-the-train kind of morning, we are on the train headed to our next Italian locale.
One of the biggest pre-trip debates we have in our house is whether or not to get the currency of the country we are traveling to prior to departing. I always say yes, especially when you are talking euros. Our local bank has plenty. It’s not like they are Bhutanese Ngultrum (just go ahead and click the link). Someone please tell me when I will start listening to my own advice? I knew I should have gotten euros because my daughter was out of them (thinking I would bring more!) and we needed them.
I’m not exaggerating when I say not even the pan handlers in the train station will take US dollars. Not kidding. If you want to feel completely awkward, ask someone to exchange a USD. They won’t and they won’t even pretend to not laugh at you when you ask. And now, none of our credit cards will work in the metro kiosks even though they worked like a charm yesterday. At this point, I don’t know if the cards work at all. But that question will have to wait for another day. Why worry about that now?
So, we ran back to the hotel and asked the front desk lady for the nearest ATM. She said it was a 5 minute walk to the bank. Well, that chick needs to be a professional speed walker because we had to run to an ATM at a bank that was over a 1/2 mile from the hotel. It wasn’t 5 minutes. And, thank goodness I turned my head at the exact moment we passed it and saw it because it was completely unmarked.
You can’t miss this. Just pray you have euros when you get there.
Seriously we would have never seen it. Can someone tell me why every pharmacy in Europe can be spotted a mile away due to the huge, neon, green, flashing cross signs while banks are hidden away like some 1920’s speakeasy?
We resorted to using my daughter’s debit card, which I’m certain will deplete her college funds with the fees the bank is going to charge for that transaction. Fortunately the bank was across the street from a metro station even though the stupid kiosk there wouldn’t take a 20€! Seriously, how do people function around here? Luckily the newspaper stands sell tickets, but only take cash (of the coveted Euro variety, of course). I’m starting to think that the proprietors of those little shops jack with the kiosks to make them not work. I’m considering calling Anderson Cooper to do an exposé on it.
After navigating the metro during rush hour, we got to the Milan Central train station and the kiosk there would not print our train tickets to our next destination. There is a theme at work here.
Milan Central Station. My on-the-run photo skills at work.
Thank God (and I’m not saying that lightly) that the Trentalia employees took pity on us and moved us to the front of the long line (much to the dismay of others) and printed our tickets and our tickets for tomorrow. We ran up the escalator and to the platform where our train was waiting, but the train would only open from one side and we, as the day would have it, were on the wrong one. If that train were to pull away before we got on it, I would have thrown myself in front of it.
Once on board, a kind man helped us find the right seats on the train, thankfully just moments before my daughter had a nervous breakdown and just before I began cursing Italy with a string of explicatives that even Scarface would have been impressed by. All with 30 pound packs on our backs.
And now we are sitting in a train car with a couple who are freakishly rubbing each other’s feet. Take that nonsense and your bizarre tattoos (truly, you know, the kind you might get if you lost a bet?) to the next cabin, people. But do leave your flip flops that have a beer bottle opener on the bottom of them – with which he did just open a beer at 9:46 IN THE MORNING. And I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking that the bottom of those nasty flip flops just touched his hands and the top of that beer. Never mind, take those foul things with you, too. And, lady, you do realize that you can silence the sound your cell phone makes when taking a picture of your hubby opening that beer as if it is the first time he has ever done so, don’t you? It would let you be ever so discreet so that we, and the lovely Italian ladies seated next to you, don’t look at you with discontent and perhaps a little horror.
Tortona, Italy. Really a picture of nothing. This is what one does on Italian trains when you want to avoid looking at fellow passengers.
Let’s be honest, the Italian ladies are about to toss their proverbial biscotti into their fabulous Gucci handbags over this whole exchange. But, I digress.
So after an episode of our version of the Amazing Race, we are on our way to Cinque Terre. No signs of jet lag for me yet. Oh wait, unless that is the reason this morning went so far off the rails. I’ll have to contemplate that. The weather is lovely. Wish you were here. 😉