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Wed, 30 Apr 2003
Germany - Weekend 5 - Mediterranean - Day 1
Getting to Nice was an adventure. Our first train "hop" was from Ulm to München. The train to München was "etva 25 minuten später" which meant that we weren't going to make our connection in München. We checked back with the nice lady at the ticket counter, and she said there was an earlier train to München that we could take. We practically ran to this train, and we were safely on our way to München a few minutes later.

In München we got on the train that would take us to Bologna. (Ha, ha.... Bologna!) We had tried reserving this train in Ulm, but we were told it was too late to make reservations. Fortunately, with the help of a Deutsch Bahn person, we were able to locate some non-reserved seats. Unfortunately, the four of us were split up between two different rooms, and they were both smoking rooms with smokers inside them. Eric and I were in one room with three other people, and Jason and Allyn were nextdoor in a room with two other people. We had originally hoped to get couchettes for most of our night travelling, but by the time we tried reserving couchetes at the Ulm Hbf, all we could get for this weekend were seats. After a few stops, one of the people in my room got off the train, as did someone in the other room. The two remaining people in my room seemed to be Italian (because they spoke Italian) and did not seem to speak English. We were going to be on the train until 4am or so, so I got out my Computer Networks book. Reading this usually helps me fall asleep, but I ended up reading it for more than an hour without falling asleep. Jason and Allyn seemed to be the lucky ones. They were left with only three people total in their room, so they closed the door and the curtains to their room, reclined the seats from both sides, and each of them stretched out across two seats. Eric and I, with 4 people in our room, were not as lucky. After giving up on the book I took my contacts out and put my head down and hoped to sleep. While I can't say I got a lot of sleep, I know I got some. I know this because an hour or two later, I was woken up by someone talking to me to in Italian. Apparently we had stopped in a city where many more people had gotten on the train despite it being in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe this was Verona, but I really don't know. Our room was full, and there was an Italian guy asking me to move my luggage to make room for his. I woke up and stood up and looked very confused. One of the other Italians in the room said something that I think meant I didn't understand Italian. Whatever it was, the guy stopped talking to me and started gesturing instead. I put my glasses on at this point, which helped me out. Eventually I figured out that he wanted the luggage moved, and I wasn't in a position to point out that it wasn't my luggage that was in the way, so I helped him out. After this I went back to sitting and wanting to sleep, but I don't think I slept for the rest of the way to Bologna. If I wanted, I could take cruel satisfaction because my misery was not alone. After all the people got on the train in Verona (or wherever), one of the train workers went through all the rooms looking for space. When she opened up the room that Jason and Allyn were in, she discovered the potential space for another 3 people. Rather than letting them sleep in peace, she started practically yelling at them. When she was saying we have no idea, because it was Italian after all. But they ended up sitting up like everyone else in a full room. I know that she was pretty loud about it, because I could hear her from my room. One of the stranger things of the night is that one of the new passengers in Jason's room offered him a can of beer. Jason took it and said he slept better after drinking it. Other odd things that happened in the night include that the lights went out in our train a couple times. Also, there were two smokers in our room for most of the night. One was sitting by the window. Whenever he started to smoke a cigarette, the other guy would go out in the hall and smoke a cigarette as well. I didn't really understand this. We got off the train in Bologna and waited for our next connection

Before too long, our next train showed up. If I remember correctly, this train took us to Milano. When we got on this train, we were disappointed to find out that it was basically as crowded as the train we had just gotten off of. We walked through a car or two with our full gear on and didn't find any empty rooms. We disappointedly took our stuff off and put it in the rack in the hallway and prepared to spend the next couple hours sitting on the horrible little fold-down seats in the hallway. With our backpacks off, Jason and I went on a search for an empty room. We walked through probably 6 cars on the train. This wasn't as easy as you would think, because there were plenty of people in the hallway blocking our way. We looked in the windows as we walked, but they were generally full of people sleeping in mildly interesting ways. After 5 cars we found a completely empty room, but it was in first class, and our Eurailtickets are for only second class. We considering risking it, but decided to explore further first. In the next car we finally found a completely empty room in second class! We closed the curtains and the doors so nobody else would use it and then walked back to get the others. After squeezing through the hallways with our big backpacks, we were in a room all to ourselves. We pulled all the seats out to be fully reclined and decided on a way for the four of us to lay across the three pairs of seats without being too close to each other. All of us were reasonably comfortable except Allyn, who is 6'7". I slept pretty well for the length of this train ride. A couple times I woke up and discovered that my skin was sticking to the seats. Blech!!!! But I prefer not to focus on how gross that was. I didn't really have to explain this to the others because they could hear me unsticking myself. We got off the train in Milano. In Milano we got on our last train of the night/morning.

Our fourth train would take us all the way to Nice. This train was the first one that was not crowded, and we were able to get a non-smoking room to ourselves that was relatively clean. :) It was daylight outside, which made it hard to sleep anymore, due to the brightness and the psychology. We spent some time playing cards and then looking out the window. The view of the coast was quite nice, but it was frequently interrupted by tunnels, sometimes very long tunnels. Finally around noon we arrived in Nice and could say goodbye to the train and our unpleasant first time in Italy.
Next:Weekend 5 - Mediterranean - Day 2 (Thu, 1 May 2003)
Previous:Weekend 5 - Mediterranean - The planning stages (Tue, 29 Apr 2003)

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