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Published: January 7th 2011
We decide to find warmer climes
In early December with Prague being continually covered by new snow and the temperature dropping to very cold levels, we sat talking one evening about the upcoming Christmas holidays. The seminary was going to be closed for several weeks and we could do whatever we wanted to do.
I knew that Spain was a destination on Nancy's 'bucket' list. In fact, she was at that time reading Tales of the Alhambra
by Washington Irving.
"Why don't we visit Spain?," I asked. "It will be warmer in Spain than Prague."
She readily agreed. "If we go, I want to visit Granada and the Alhambra."
We like to travel by train and decided that instead of flying we would go by train if I could find good connections. It took some doing but I finally found good connections. First we would travel by a night train from Prague to Zurich. Then, after about a three hour wait, we would travel by a day train through the Alps of Switzerland and Northern Italy to Milan. There we would have another three or four hour layover before riding a
Alps of Switzerland
One of many mountains. The photo was shot through the train window ... which was not all that clean.
night train from Milan to Figueres, Spain. Figueres, Spain? Yes, Nancy's sister Doris and her husband Ron had visited the Dali Museum there and highly recommended it. It is in the North-Eastern corner of Spain just in a nice straight line from Italy, through France into the corner of Spain.
Prague to Zurich
We were in a compartment with six berths. Five were filled during the night ... three women, including Nancy, another fellow and me, Bill. There is not much to say as we slept almost the entire way to Zurich. We do not know why but there are no doors at the Zurich train station and the cold wind turns the entire station into what felt like a meat locker. The only warm place we found was a book store. At least the shops had doors and warmed the interiors.
Zurich to Milan
If you ever have the opportunity to take a day train between Zurich and Milan, do so. It is a beautiful trip through the mountains. We will add another post later on this section. We arrived in Milan in late afternoon. Like Zurich the Milan train station is like a wind tunnel. We did find a warm restaurant where we had a nice snack, leisurely eating to soak up as much of the warmth as possible. Warm room, free toilets, good food. What could be more welcome?
Milan to Figueres
We climbed aboard the train and found our sleeping compartment. This one had four berths. The conductor looked at our tickets and said, "This says two men. Women and men cannot sleep in the same compartment."
"Well, I'm a woman," Nancy replied, "and I don't want to sleep in the aisle."
"You can sleep in the compartment only if the other men agree," the conductor said handing the tickets back to us. Then he added, "If they are young, they won't care."
In Northern Europe no one seems to care a whit if the compartments are shared and we were quite surprised at this new development. I knew that Nancy was going to be an unhappy camper if she could not have berth to sleep in and that I was not going to be happy either.
Our companions were two young men; one from Argentina and the other a Spaniard who was returning to his home. Fortunately both said, "No problem," when asked if they minded Nancy sleeping in the compartment. The young Argentine fellow misunderstood at first and with a puzzled look asked, "Then if you can't sleep with men, where will I go?" We explained it wasn't that he would have to go anywhere but that we needed his permission before Nancy could have a berth to sleep in that night. That was when he quickly said, "No problem." He laughed and told me that the night before on an Italian train only he and one other young woman were in the entire car of the sleeper train and they were put in the same room when there was plenty of room for each to be alone. He couldn't get over the Spanish concerns about coed 'dorms'.
Both of our traveling companions were friendly young men and we chatted until the conductor prepared the berths for sleeping. Everyone was tired and we all crashed as soon as the beds were ready.
We will post a number of entries from the trip and hope you will not reach a point where you think, "Good grief, another entry from Bill and Nancy."
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