Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catching Up With Friends

"Our battered suitcases were piled on
the sidewalk again. We had longer
ways to go."
~ Jack Kerouac

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was one of those travel days which always wear us out. Eveen though we had two relatively easy train rides — first from Torino to Rome (via Milano, Bologna, and Florence) and then from Rome to Spoleto — it was still pretty taxing. I'm not someone who likes to sit still for long periods of time.

As we arrived at Rome's Termini train station, we met up with friends of ours who had just flown in from Las Vegas. The hook-up was so easy given the fact that Termini is one chaotic and crazy place. . . We got off our train, and our exhausted friends, Bob and Steph, were waiting near the next train.

"Should we get on now?" someone asked, and we all dragged our luggage to Binario 2 (Platform 2).

"Let's go down to the second or third car," I suggested. "The first one seems rather crowded." Off we went, and we climbed into car #2, threw our bags overhead, and sank into four comfortable seats facing one another.

"Did you get any sleep?" I asked.

"No," Bob advised. "I read a book."

"I don't sleep well on planes," said Stephanie. "I couldn't get comfortable." We small-talked for about 15-20 minutes. The talk was just catching up and such, as you would expect.

Suddenly, a man stopped beside my seat.

"Dees-a car-a no secondo class-a."

"Scusi?" "What?" "Sorry?" we all said at once.

"Dees-a car-a no secondo class-a. You move-a da odder car." He pointed in the direction of the first car that we had skipped because it was so crowded.

"How much would it cost to stay here?" Bob asked.

"Tir-teen=a euro."

"For all four?"

"Itch-a," the conductor said, and we all stood up. Paying more than double the ticket price just to stay in those seats seemed ridiculous to all of us, so we yanked our bags up the aisle and into the next car which was, as we saw when we walked by it, FULL. Finally we got two seats in one row and two in another and settled in.

After the second stop, four seats across from where Steph and I were sitting opened up. We grabbed them, and the guys joined us. One of the guys sitting across the aisle from Bob leaned toward him and started talking rather loudly.

"What did you say?" Bob asked.

"What you ask?" the loud guy asked Bob.

"We didn't hear what you said," either Mike or Bob said back to him.

"What you care? I talkin' to my frien."

"We thought you were talking to us. You were leaning this way," Bob said. The guy leaned back to his seat, but every so often, he leaned back towards Bob.

"I'm glad I remembered to use deodorant," Bob said once when the leaner straightened up in his own seat. Sitting the farthest from the leaner, I knew what Bob meant, if you get my drift. I most certainly got the leaner's drift. :-)

About 90 minutes after we left Termini, we arrived in Spoleto.... warm, sunny, beautiful Spoleto. The owner from whom we were renting our apartments had emailed and told us her husband would meet us at the train station at 14:58. We arrived three minutes late, and hauled our suitcases through the small station and out to the parking lot to look for Laurie who, as you probably can guess, was not there.

"He wouldn't have left if the train was a few minutes late," Bob said. I walked to the other side of the station to see if, perhaps, our wayward landlord was there. Nope. A few cars pulled into the lot, and each time we looked expectantly in the driver's direction. No Laurie. A Fiat pulled into the handicap space in front of us. Lighting a skinny cigarette (You might remember that I love those.), the driver got out and just stood there. He didn't look at us as he was concentrating on his smokes and his cell phone.

"Do you think that's him?" someone asked me.

"I don't think so. He's speaking Italian, and Laurie is British," I replied as the guy stubbed his cigarette and walked into the station. (By the way, he was about as handicapped as I am, and that isn't much.)

Bob decided to call, and Laurie advised that he didn't realize that we were all arriving at 14:58 but that he would be down quite quickly to get us. A few minutes later, a car larger than the Fiat pulled into the lot.

"Is that him?" someone asked.

"Do you think he looks British?" someone else commented.

It wasn't, and he didn't, but a few minutes after that, Laurie did showed up and flashed his lights
as he approached the parking lot.

'"This mix-up has caused a stir," Laurie advised us as we crowded into his car. "I'm hoping we don't get a divorce over it. I didn't know you were coming in at 3, and I didn't know there were four of you." He went on about being sorry about the mistake and then started pointing out where the groceries and shops and restaurants were as we passed by any of us would remember that two minutes after we hit our flats.

                                  Bob and Stephanie today

 He gave us our keys and instructions . . . Don't operate the washer and oven at the same time. Don't leave the key in the lock at night. Use the round keys for the security door, the square keys for the doors to the apartments, and the small key for the big security gate if it's closed at night. We're here on the map. The sites are there on the map. Do this. Go here. Try this. Consider that. My head hurt.

We're all settled in, and we had a fun day exploring the town today. We met a few great locals, but those are stories for another night.  I do have to add that I wish I had had the thought to take a photo of the four of us at the Spoleto train station yesterday. We were all so tired, though, so the thought just never entered my brain.

Tomorrow, we're planning to hit Assisi. I'm looking forward to seeing that beautiful town again. I'll let you know how it was....

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