Travel notes from Joan D., San Jose , California, one of our guests on the Provence tour. After our trip, Eppie and her went to Italy.
Immediately upon getting to the train to Genoa, Italy we had ‘issues’. First, we had reservations on a particular train car (#9), in specific seats. How frustrating to find there was no car #9! As the train began making all those gearing up sounds Eppie and I threw our bags and ourselves into car #8. After which the train did indeed pull out of the station. We were told to report to #4, which isn’t exactly as simple as it sounds. Oh sure, we just walk up 4 cars. But while the train is moving and rocking from side to side, and we’re making 2 trips each back and forth because the aisles are narrow and crowded.
Long story short – motion sickness. It was very dizzying walking counter to the direction of the train, staying balanced, while schlepping bags. Remember, to get from 1 car to the other you have to open a sliding door, step across the gyrating ‘joint’ where car 8 meets car 7, open another door, and so on. With a couple(okay, 4)suitcases, 2 ‘carry-ons’ and a back-pack. Eppie is my hero. She would haul those puppies through those people like Moses parting the Red Sea. Dang! It took about 45 minutes but we finally got everything to our newly assigned seats, which of course, were occupied by a retired-age couple who were not happy to be ousted by us.
The seating arrangement was like a table booth in a restaurant, however with separate seats, not a bench. I guess they had wanted our side since it faced the direction of travel, plus it was roomier as it had 3 seats. Nevertheless, we ousted them and they scooted around the little tray table to their assigned seats. (Note: we did this not because we want to bully people but because in Europe a train traveler can get “fined” 50€ if they commit an infraction regarding their ticketing. So we where already concerned about being in the ‘wrong’ car. We wanted to be in the ‘correct’ seats) Then I had to create space for all of our luggage. I lifted up smaller (and nicer) luggage to make room for our bigger, more scuffed bags, then placed the smaller ones on top of the large ones. Logical? Considerate? I thought so, did they? Hell no.
The older lady immediately addressed her husband with arm waving, attitude-tossing malice sneered in my direction. Complaining and insulting hurts more in a foreign tongue since you are unable to attempt peace negotiations. Where’s Jimmy Carter or Jesse jackson when you need them? So after a 15 minute stand off and dirty glances, I opened an italian map and studied it, then took out my passport, handed it to the man and showed him my last name. “Aah! Di Pietro!”. I pointed to my wedding ring. ‘Si,si’ he said, beaming. Apparently I moved up a notch or two in his book because at least I demonstrated the good sense to marry an Italian having not had the good fortune to be born one. I muttered (butchered I’m sure) something about ” mi esposo familia abruzzesi”. and I pointed on my map in the general direction of Introdocua, where Rico’s father was from. This was met with more “Si, si” and more friendly chatter. By the time we said goodbye in Genova, I had learned that they had family in San Francisco and we shook hands.