Italy. The land of beautiful people, wine, and scrumptious food! Also a country where survival of the fittest takes place at the train station! In this month’s Overheard Whilst Travelling, fellow traveller, Helen, from The Lite Backpacker, shares her frustrating experience of getting from A to B in Italy. Not quite Japanese subway system crushing but close…
Patience is a Virtue
As anyone who has travelled by train through Europe knows – the trains in Italy are something special. I learnt early on, the sooner you get on the train, fight for a place for your backpack and find your seat, the better.
Standing on the platform with a mixed group of local Italians going away for a weekend, flashpackers, backpackers and Brits abroad as the train pulled up, we all surged forward only to take a step back a moment later as a whole bunch of passengers emerged from the train, like clowns from a miniature car. As I stepped back I noticed one travel stained couple sitting down on a bench near by, watching the fuss with smirks on their faces. Glancing at them I wondered if I should also sit down and wait a few moments. However, I am a nervous person, I like to make sure I am in the right place at the right time, so instead I stood my ground and patiently waited for my turn to board the train.
Man Versus Ticket
It was mayhem when I finally did get on board. Finding a way to balance my pack onto of the suitcase pyramid was a challenge that almost bought me to tears. Eventually though, I made it to my seat, only to find someone else sitting in it. However, after seeing my ticket they just grabbed their stuff and moved to another seat for a while.
Finally comfortable, I sat back and looked out of the window, noticing again the couple still sitting on the bench. He looked like a surfer backpacker, blonde unwashed hair, ripped jeans, white t-shirt and a multi coloured sweatshirt. She looked a little cleaner (by backpacking standards) she had a small suitcase on wheels, her jeans were clean, her hair was tied back nicely and she was wearing makeup. As I watched it became clear that she was agitated, she wanted to get on the train. He kept putting a hand on her arm and gesturing to the windows of the train. Looking down the aisle I noticed that mayhem was still running wild, the couple were clearly waiting for the hustle and bustle to calm down before boarding.
Eventually he allowed her to stand, she bolted for the train. When she reached the door, she stopped and looked at it, he also looked at it and looked along the train. What were they waiting for? Were they looking for a way to open the door? There is a handle there right? Suddenly without warning or whistle the train started moving. We were leaving!
In those last moments that I could see the couple, the girls face went from horror, tosadness to anger in a manner of moments while he just stood looking dumbfounded and confused.
Parting Words from a Traveller
In Italy… always get on the train.
When she isn’t people watching, Helen is busy trying to think up great recipes that can be whipped up in a hostel kitchen and on a backpacker’s budget. Along with travelling the world and eating as much delicious food as possible Helen’s greatest ambition is to one day be David Attenborough’s sidekick… her application is still pending.
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