I love trains. This train leaving Venice, especially. This train has seats that are slightly curved so they match the natural arch of your back and eliminate the need for a lower back pillow. This train has little tray tables that extend at a comfortable angle.
Trains are clean. They have more leg room than a budget airline. There’s no security check to go through, no long arduous process of sealing your 3 oz liquids in a clear quart sized bag. You don’t get hassled by men in suits demanding for your ticket to be printed out and not on your phone. The best part? You can bring as many water bottles as you want. Such luxury!
The train goes fast – 95 mph through pure countryside – and arrives in a station right in the heart of the city you desire to see. You don’t have to fiddle with an airport shuttle that costs 18 euros for a return trip.
The train is the backpacker’s vehicle. The perfect specimen to be grungy on.
Because you’re mastering eurorail, you’re practically an expert backpacker, and you plan out the exit from Venice to Bologna perfectly. You even set an alarm on your phone to ring at 10 to 11 o’clock so you’ll have exactly ten minutes to prep before your arrival time. The alarm rings, and you’re engrossed in Life of Pi and listening to Chet Faker and you want to enjoy these minutes of bliss on the train, so you wave off the Korean lady’s gesture to you that she’ll get up so you can move out. I’m the next one, not now, you say.
The train stops, and you take another long gaze out the window, almost surprised to see the sparkling scenery replaced by grumpy faces of train station people. You take up the Korean lady’s proposition now, and ask her to get up, and for some reason now she’s taking her sweet time. You forget exactly where you put your bag, then remember, grab it, but you can’t find your large yellow umbrella anywhere. The overhead bin is too tall and you can’t see it.
You poke the tall non-English speaking teen going through puberty. Can you get my brelly? He has no idea what you just said, but gets up anywho, and my god he is tall he almost hits his head on the overhead bin. But hallelujah he grabs that yellow brelly, a token from Portugal.
Bags in hand, brelly under your arm, you’re ready for takeoff, and you make a 180 degree turn to leave. But there’s 8 people shuffling towards you with heavy suitcases. You render it impossible to go past them, so you turn to exit the other way. The exit the other way turns out to be an emergency door that you try to utilize anyway, until a man and two woman tell you no no no, wrong wrong, bad bad bad.
I move towards the gang of weary travelers clogging up the center aisle and as I’m barely slipping past them and Life of Pi is falling out of my hands and the yellow umbrella is loosening under my arm and poking people and my headphones are still blasting Chet Faker and I’m carrying too much stuff, I’m thinking GUYS CAN YOU MOVE OVER PLEASE I NEED TO GET OFF THIS IS MY STOP.
There’s a sudden jerk and I nearly fall into the lap of the Korean lady, nearly poke out her eyeballs with the yellow brelly.
The train starts moving. My heart starts racing. I start thinking, no no no no way.
And to Rome I go.
I hate trains.
P.S. The gods heard my pleas to not take me all the way down to Rome, and I was able to get off at Florence and have a fantastic day in the city. This little story was written on my iPhone as I was sitting down on the steps of the train, totally panicked and forcibly drinking water to calm down. But alas, all things come to a happy ending!
P.P.S. Family and friends will know that this story is oddly reminiscent of that time I got kidnapped by Amtrak. The good luck with trains continues!