Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 2—Friday, March 5th

I think my trip gets slowly more interesting, for you the reader, from this point onward.

This day was three trains over a total of 10 hours, the majority of the time spent in one train or another, not much time in between. It started at 6:20 AM when my alarm went off. Good thing I had gone to bed early the previous night. Showering wasn’t enjoyable, the showerhead had nothing to be hung on like a normal shower does, so you had to pick it up and set it down a lot. Eventually I checked out of the hotel, grabbed a little food, and headed to the train station, which was just up the road. I made my 7:30 train on time, and got a window seat on the side that I figured would be the one with the best views, theoretically with the water on that side. Of course, at first there was very little water to be seen, and actually for the first half of that trip I rarely saw water. All the people in my coach also got moved forward and so I ended up with a cruddy view. But, it was cool seeing the land pass by, and the big mountains that shot up around us. Eventually we began to see more water. The train passed through Cannes, which I thought was interesting, I can now say I’ve been where they have the huge film festival, even if it was only for maybe ten minutes and spent sitting in a train. From what I could see I don’t blame all those movie stars for going to the film festival there, although really I could mainly see the less well off areas. On trains this tends to happen, you see the places that aren’t as wealthy as maybe some parts of each city are.

The second train was running behind, but I eventually made it on. It was much more crowded, and for a while I had a terrible view of the water. But, I eventually moved, and anyway that was a short trip, about 50 minutes. I got into the Ventimille station around 11:30, and I was moving again 20 minutes later (I had been on the ground for probably 50 minutes at the last station. By this time I believe I was in Italy. I hopped on a Trenitalia (Italian train company) train and was on my way. For about two stops I sat across from a British couple who were some town for the day with their family. They were staying in Monte Carlo for someone’s 21st birthday (what a way to spend that birthday), and told me that they took a helicopter from the Nice airport to Monte Carlo. That sounded fantastic, so I’ll add it to my list of things to do (mental list, and this one is probably not happening while I’m studying abroad). Their whole group seemed very lively and excited. I was just happy to hear English. The husband worked for Toyota in some capacity around Birmingham, so I joked that they were having some troubles recently. Glad he found it funny and wasn’t frustrated that I mentioned it. Maybe he secretly dislikes me…

This third train was very much on the water, although it also goes through a lot of tunnels. All three of them were like this at some point: you come out of a tunnel and there behind you is a small city/town on a hillside by the water. Many of the roads had these huge bridges to get between the mountains. I was watching Top Gear recently and they showed them driving in the same area I was, which is pretty cool. This was all helped by having a relatively sunny day, a few clouds here and there but nothing too bad. So I had knocked out one of my big reasons for taking these trains: see the Italian coast. It was fantastic. Although by the end of it I was a little tired of the direct sunlight, and regretting not bringing my sunglasses.

A random town along the way:

More from the train:

Italy already seemed very different. The buildings looked different, and I started to see more buildings that I really stuck out as churches. While I saw churches in France, they didn’t always seem as visible, minus the ones in the small towns with a big church in the middle.

I eventually arrived in La Spezia, near the Cinque Terre, and got to my hotel down the road from the train station. It was a nice little place, and I enjoy having a hotel room to myself. I got settled and then took a walk to find some food. There was a main strip that had a number of clothing shops in what I assumed was the center of town. After a little bit of walking I found a place to eat, and had a beer and some pasta, both of which I enjoyed. I called it a night relatively early, partly because I wanted to get myself up and going in the morning, and partly because I had woken up early that morning.

By the hotel in La Spezia (I feel like it's pronounced like La Spetzia, but not really sure):

I had a rather big key:

What I slept on, not too bad:

Where I had dinner (this was taken the next morning):

No comments:

Post a Comment