Day 2: Crash Course in Italian Travel


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June 22nd 2011
Published: June 22nd 2011
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Day 2: Holland to Italy


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time Zone Change
Changing time zones in the air was interesting. It was afternoon daylight when we took off, but the plane windows were closed for some time, so I don’t know if it got dark anytime during our journey. When I opened the windows again, the Sun was rising for Europe. My first glimpse of the continent was a wind generator farm located off coast in the North Sea. And then we saw Holland. Flat, green, broken with canals, it was exactly as I remembered it from nine years ago. The airport, however, was forgettable.

Wasn’t I Just Here?
Connecting in Amsterdam is not as fun as one might think. Airport connections in general are not fun, now that I consider it. The plane was late leaving Seattle, so its late arrival in Amsterdam cut my connection time in half. I ended up going through security again, which was frustrating, but the staff was accommodating and put passengers with tight connections at the front of the line. A handsome young Dutchman stamped my passport, and a female security guard gave me the most thorough pat-down ever. I usually expect a couple dates before going to second base.

The short plane ride to Milan was for serious nap time. I hope I didn’t snore. It’s possible. Then I was in Italy. Amsterdam was full of English speakers. Milan not so much. I’d like to think it might have something to do with the fact that Italian is a prettier language than Dutch and so they like to speak it more often. I boarded the bus from the airport to the train station with only a minor embarrassing moment resulting in my lack of language skills. The drive was depressing. It was like looking at the nasty neighborhoods of Federal Way, all industrial and covered with graffiti.

First Official Train Ride
The train station, thankfully, was much cleaner than the suburbs. But hot. Since getting off the first plane, my personal atmosphere felt like one million percent humidity. Italy was as predicted – hot, crowded, and uncomfortable. Even though I had pre-purchased a rail pass, the line to talk to anyone looked like an hour’s wait. I was done being on the road and I had run out of fun. I bought a one-way ticket to Aosta, my final destination, and consulted with a tourist booth regarding where to go. A conductor-looking person standing outside of my train helped me further by providing the most wonderfully simple instructions to validate my ticket, “Stampa. Box-a yellow.” Awesome, I am speaking Italian already!

On the train, I was just as uncomfortable, but at least I was seated. Occasionally I dozed under the protection of my ultra dark sun glasses. The train system took some educated guessing. Knowing the landscape of my destination helped. I knew I was supposed to be in the lower Alps, so when mountains appeared I considered it a good sign. There was also a moment that made me pause, “It appears everyone has vacated this train, I think I should go with them.” Sure enough, the new train everyone was boarding was headed in the right direction. I did ask a couple people if I was headed in the right direction, with a head nod or, “Ci” to answer my very abbreviated and grammatically incorrect question.

Home at Last!
After a full 24 hours of straight travel, I reached my destination in Aosta. No photos of the trip itself. For one, I looked like a wreck from all that traveling. And the camera was also safely tucked away in the center of my suitcase. maybe on the way back East.


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