Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trains from Lamezia to Rome

We decided to take a train from Lamezia to Rome. It cost about $75 for a one way ticket for a first class seat.

There are two types of trains. The old ones and the new ones. The new ones don't make it down to Southern Italy very often. I think there was one new train from Lamezia to Rome and it went once a day. It's a 4 hour ride on a nice new train.

We didn't take that one. We took the old one. It's a 5 hour ride in an older model train.

First class basically means you get assigned seating in a compartment with 5 strangers. Two rows of 3 seats facing towards each other. I expected I'd be the only English speaking person in my compartment.

I immediately had problems. I was supposed to be in seat 84, car 4. I walked up and down car 4 twice and couldn't find any indication that it contained an 84. However, I noticed one compartment with no numbers. The previous compartment said 74-79 so I did my special math that they taught me in grade school and decided that my seat was in the compartment with no numbers. This compartment had 5 people in it and there was a purse or something in the one available seat.

Flashbacks to the Air One debacle resounded in my head with the seated Italians all yelling at the boarding Italians. I put on my best Texas accents and said "excuse me" and pointed to my ticket. "Can you help?"

So this lady with a brilliant English accent said, "You are in the right place" and proceeded to spew out some Italian to the other four that resulted in much maneuvering to clear a place for me and my bags. I sat.

For the first 2 hours, they all talked Italian. They were all so talkative and all so friendly that I thought they were traveling together. At one train stop, they all got off. Well, everyone except for the English speaking one.

They all seemed very happy to get off. Even stopping to shake my hand as if they knew me. All except for the English woman. She remained seated.

For the next hour of the trip, it's just me and her. Apparently the other Italians weren't being nice when they left the train. They were expressing their sympathy at leaving me alone with this woman.

She talked. Then, when I thought there was nothing left, she talked some more. At one point, I politely retrieved my book from the backpack as a subtle hint. She wasn't up on recognizing subtle hints and proceeded to talk some more.

I learned that she got divorced 2 years ago. She owns an English speaking school or 2 or 3 in Italy. Her best friend and her got married, had children and got divorced at the same age (very coincidentally). Her ex-husband is trying to bankrupt her. She's not allowed to take all 3 kids on trips because he knows she won't come back. She told me about her best friend's strange sex life with her abusive, now ex, husband. I can't even recount the story to you here without giving myself chills. She told me about the usefulness of a bidet and why she misses them when she returns to Australia. Oh yeah, she told me she's from Australia. She told me about her first trip to Sicily. At one point she wanted me to tell her a story about my life and she came and sat down right next to me and hovered. I was allowed to speak for approximately 45 seconds. She continued to hover while she told me why she'd never hire another teacher named Karen. All Karens are bad. I didn't ask what her name was.

Don't get me wrong. She was an attractive woman. Maybe she was just lonely. I had fleeting thoughts of how to make her shut up and not all of them were nice. Some of it was entertaining and in hindsight, it probably did make the trip go by faster.

An hour before we arrived in Rome a Japanese girl came into our little cabin. She spoke English. I thought to myself, "I've been in Italy for almost a week and haven't found anyone that can speak conversational English. Now, I'm on this train to Rome and I'm stuck in a cabin with the only 2 English speaking women in Italy and I want to take pictures and read my book."

The Japanese girl didn't talk much. However, she sat across from me and giggled every time Ms Talkative Australian started in on another story or asked me an embarrassing question. At one point I was quizzed about when I got divorced and how old I was and that I didn't look old enough to have a 15 year old daughter. I gazed at the Japanese girl with my pleading eyes to save me from the onslaught, but she just chortled into her book.

As for the scenery, I didn't get to take any pictures. But the Southern portion of the trip (from Lamezia to Naples) ran basically up the Western coast of Italy. It was very pretty. Mountains to the East and sea to the West. At one point we went past Mount Vesuvius (the only volcano in Europe to erupt in the last 100 years).

1 comment:

  1. Let's see, possible plots for the all sorts of things that ran through your mind...

    Murder On The Italian Express- When talkative Australian woman is brutally murdered, everyone becomes a suspect...even our lovable computer geek, Gar.

    Strangers On A Train- A unhappily married man convinces an American to kill his talkative wife while they share a compartment on a train.

    Brief Encounter- two people married, but not to each other, who meet by chance in a train station and embark on a short, intense romance.