We are finally here after what feels like several days on a train. All was going relatively well until the night train was delayed. First they said 20 minutes. There we sat among the alcoholics and the homeless at Nice station (not so nice), praying for our train to arrive. Then it was 40 minutes. By now we were best friends with the down-and-outs.
The train was not much of an improvement on Nice Station. It was dirty, old-fashioned and cold.
“Look at this,” shrieked Bea when she saw the loo with no loo seat and water all over the floor. “Who on earth are these disgusting people?”
Olivia was not impressed with her couchette. “This is the hardest bed I have ever been in,” she complained. If the aim is to reduce the amount of people flying around the globe creating carbon footprints then the trains need to be dramatically improved. So far this is not an experience I am keen to repeat.
The train finally pulled out of the station at half past midnight, by which time we were all horribly over-tired, grubby and generally grumpy. The children fell asleep straight away, despite the basic conditions. I lay there anticipating all the things that would wake me up.
We were practically next door to the guard’s room and the two guards (when they weren’t busy chatting up some rather overweight Italian girl) would open the door and let it slam shut. The door, when it opened, sounded like something out of a hammer-house horror movie. Crrreeeeeeaaaaaak it said and then BANG followed by a loud click as the lock connected.
This happened about 200 times between midnight and 7am. At one stage I went to visit said door and guards, wearing my silk pyjamas and my UGGs, an outfit I must remember to show off more often.
“Could you please shut up?” I asked. “My children can’t sleep. And stop opening and slamming the door for 10 minutes? I’m taking the plane home.”
Two things struck me as I said this. One, how effortlessly I can lie to men in uniform and two, how old I must be. They looked really scared and apologetic, switched off their Italian pop music and said how sorry they were.
At 7.30am Leonardo woke us all up. We had another two hours to go to Rome. By this stage they were getting rather fed up of trains. We sat at some place called Orte for half an hour.
When we got to the station my mother met us and we had breakfast. We had two hours to kill before the train to where she lives now.
“I want to go home,” wailed Bea. We had all had enough. Finally at 11.35 we got on a train bound for Ancona. An hour later my mother announced that after this stop, ours was next. I looked out of the window. ORTE said a big sign.
Geography never was my strong point……
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007