Trains and Busses and Metros, Oh My!

I always fall asleep on trains. I guess the rocking motion, the rhythmic clop clop of the wheels and the long times spent on them lulls me into sweet dreams of beautiful Itaian food and sights and even more beautiful women.

I got caught in a train strike last Friday, which turned what should have been a 6 hour ride from Sienna back to Torino into a 12 hour epic voyage. In fact, I spent almost all of last weekend on trains, either getting to Torino or getting to and from Munich, where I visited a friend who is no longer just a pen pal, but a good friend as well.

It takes a certain karma to ride the trains in Italy. You need a transportation mantra to keep yourself sane. "It will get there, it will get there" was all I had to cling to a few times. Even the assurances of Rick Steves and Let's Go aren't enough sometimes. "Why has this train just stopped in the middle of nowhere?" is a common question. I've learned to not ask it anymore. Just wait a while; the train will start again, we will get there we will get there we will get there.

The bus is another semi-alien form of transportation for me that seems to work really well. I took an express bus to Florence from Siena and another one to get to the DisneyWorld MedievalLand town of San Gimignano the other day. That was a comedy of errors on my part, but I have now learned my lessons and am the best tourist bus rider in all of Italy. Maybe.

I meet the nicest people on the train. Italians as a whole are a warm and inviting people. They love to talk and want to communicate with others, even Stupid Americans like me. I've had the nicest conversations with fellow train travellers. A guaranteed conversation starter is to pull out the PalmPilot. "Scuzi, signore,", they say, "What is that?". After a few minutes they are probably sorry they asked, but they at least know what a PalmPilot is!

I took the train today. It got me here. I am celebrating my birthday today in the wonderful little Amalfi Coast town called Sorrento. My hotel room is delightful, Ermignia my hostess is pretty, the rates here at the internet cafe are reasonable (and the chicks that run it are cool) and I'm looking forward to a little girl watching later tonight as the local passagiata peaks at around 10 pm. Sorrento is a little south of Naples, Pompeii and Herculanum. I can see Vesuvius (sort of) and am predicting that it won't blow it's top in the next few days. I'll be visting all of those places and maybe even island hopping to Capri as well. You'll hear all about it, I'm sure.

I'm halfway through my trip and I am enjoying the pace I'm setting for myself, not too fast, not too slow, hang around a place for a few days and get familiar with it and then move on. I've even accomplished a milestone on this trip; I've managed to get a room in a Rick Steves recommended hotel both in Milan (and I made a reservation for my return there when I left this morning) and here in Sorrento.

I've spent the time since my last missive wrapping up my stay in Siena and then going to Munich. I caught a cold and was feeling a little under the weather but I'm OK now. I went to Milan for a day and then came down here. I'll be here until Sunday, where I go to Rome for a few days and then meet up with my Torino friend in Venice. After that, I may go to Ljubljana, Slovenia for a few days, Milan for a day and then come back home.