A Tale of Two Train Rides

As much as possible, I prefer to take the train over flying. I can feel good about the fact that it is more eco-conscious but we all know that isn’t the reason. It avoids the pure terror of airplane related panic attacks that had been the bane of my existence before the miracle drug Lorazapam entered my life.

So when I found this great ticket from Guben to Milan on Deutsch Bahn for only 44 euro, I was feeling psyched. Plus it afforded me the opportunity to pass through the only country in the world (Switzerland) that my dear husband had been to that I hadn’t. For me this moment passed with much fanfare, for Radek with much eye-rolling.

The train was of the variety we hardly ever can afford: Reserved comfy seats, working tray table, vacuumed carpets, glossy itinerary. My first view of the alps in the moonlight was mesmerizing. So add another place on the “must return for further exploration list.” (As a footnote here: People often comment that we must be running out of places left to go. Au contraire! So many trips just skim the surface and there are always more places to discover.)

The result of all this chugging through Germany and Switzerland was our arrival in Milan. A different Italy to be sure, Milan to us felt more Warsaw than Rome. Tall nondescript buildings, bustling sidewalks, honking streets, you know, city stuff. The fashion street was cool, but every city has a section like that so it hardly felt unique. I’m not even sure that I saw a single model! Although Radek pointed out several very fashionable suits on random guys downtown. The cathedral was as tall and gothicly pointy as I could have hoped, but in the end we didn’t expect to fall in love with Milan and we did not.

Where our emotions were tepid towards Milan, our feeling were clear about the night train to Rome. It sucked. We bought tickets a bit too late and thus were not guaranteed a seat. The crowded, sleepless night brought back traumatic memories of packed slum trains in Indonesia and we had to laugh that we should actually expect more comfortable transport in India than we had in Italy. And it’s worth noting (actually I think I noted this at least 500 times throughout the night) that this crappy train only cost 8 euros less than our delightful train to Milan and covered much less distance! Value, people!


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