Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting out of Italy: A Series of Unfortunate Events

The rocky start quickly became a very long, tumultuous journey. I laughed, cried, and acted all together like a mad woman, doing everything in my power not to yell. All I wanted was to get to France. That’s it.

I had even prayed for the first time in ages, inspired by the Vatican and an optimistic outlook on my upcoming adventures. I’m honestly not trying to offend anyone. I’m just laying out the facts. Every. Single. Time. I prayed for something, things got worse. I prayed for a safe, easy journey for Cassie. From the moment she arrived in Italy, our trip was plagued with misfortune. Even the weather took a nasty, unpredicted turn.

Upon arriving at the station on our final day in Rome, we were informed that no trains were going out to Lyon. However, we were told we could go to Milan, then catch a train to Lyon from there.
So we sped off to Milan. Once there, we took a number waited to get called up to the ticket office. There were over 100 numbers ahead of us so we decided to grab some food in the meantime. When Cassie reached for her wallet, it was nowhere to be found—she had left it on the previous train. And inside she had her ID, passport, credit card, and all her cash.

We hauled ass back to the terminal and found the train had already moved on toward the next destination. After a near-panic attack and following several failed leads, we ended up at customer service and were able to contact a worker on the train. Luckily, someone had found the wallet and turned it in. The train would be returning 3 hours later so we could wait around and pick up that little, zebra print wallet that evening.

After that was sorted, we went back to the ticket window where our number thankfully still hadn’t been called. I asked the Good Lord to get us to Lyon, but when we got called up, we discovered the train we were told to catch doesn’t actually exist. Which made sense, considering the luck we’d been having. We could take a train to Geneva, Switzerland, then from there continue to Lyon. Unfortunately the last train was leaving before 7pm and we needed to stick around to get Cassie’s wallet back. Every other option would leave before 7pm as well.

Stuck in Milan, we made the best of our situation and decided to drink the wine I had brought from Tuscany and dye our hair—maybe even check out the Duomo that night! Of course, the weather was once again against us. As we walked to our hostel, we were fighting the wind and rain, until we finally ended up entirely soaked. At the last block we heard the low rumblings of thunder and saw a flash of lightening. Clearly, we would be staying in tonight. (Wondering around in thunder and lightening is never a brilliant move, but Cassie has a deep fear of being stuck by lightening, so it’s completely out of the question.)

Despite the lightening, we had a good time. Growing up, there were three fool-proof methods my mom used to improve her mood, all of which I tend to agree with: retail therapy, dark chocolate, and a glass of wine. While shopping may have been out of our reach, chocolate and wine were readily accessible. I took the souvenir chocolate I wasn’t able to send home (dark cinnamon chocolate from the Lombardy region) and a bottle of red wine from Tuscany and we began a very girly night in. By the end of the night, I had bright red tips, Cassie’s roots were a shade darker, and we had made a new friend from Singapore. Ash talked and drank wine with us and upon hearing the ferocious growling coming from Cassie’s stomach, made us dinner at 2 in the morning.

It was at this point that I began to see a BIG silver lining. I went online and was verifying reservations, when I realized I had gotten my dates all jumbled and lost track entirely. Originally, we had planned to take an overnight train to Lyon…which we both completely forget about. So in the end we weren’t missing a reservation at all and had ended up with a place to stay on a night when we didn’t actually have a reservation in the first place.

After sleeping in, we took the metro to our first station (from where we had been told we could get to Geneva). The lady helping us clearly wanted us gone. She just said yes to everything and pointed vaguely behind her and said to take the train leaving in 42 minutes. I was a little concerned because the train we had looked up was supposed to leave in 28 minutes, and in my experience trains are rarely delayed that significantly in Europe.

We got on, but I couldn’t shake this uneasy feeling. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and asked the man across from us about the destination. After laughing for a good long time, he told us that the train was headed to Genoa, not Geneva. Lovely.

We quickly exited the train and went back to confront the lady once again. This time I carefully wrote “Geneva, Switzerland” on a sheet of paper and gave it to her. No such train existed. She sent us back to Central Station.

By this point, I wasn’t frustrated or angry, just entirely dejected. I had stopped having any reaction and just expected things to fail. This was my rock bottom. We went back to Central station and found that Geneva was (of course) not an option here either.

All I knew was, I needed to get to France. That’s it. I needed to get out of Italy. Regional trains tend to be fairly regular and simple to figure out, while the international lines were seemingly impossible. I felt like Italy was quicksand and we were sinking at an inexplicably fast rate. Once we got in the right country, we could figure it out from there.

With my broken Italian, I just kept asking for options. “No” was not an acceptable answer for me. I had become determined to get my ass to France. Nice? That’s gunna have to do. From there, we could get to Paris the next day.

So now, we’re in the train to Ventimiglia, which should transfer to Nice. I’m not entirely sure what happened to change our luck so drastically, but I sincerely hope things start looking up.
And I’ve definitely learned my lesson about prayer…bad luck seems to follow closely behind!

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