Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun With Dick & Jane... I Mean Chris & Mike

"All great adventures have
moments that are really crap."
~ Ellen Potter

"How do you feel?" Mike asked me this morning as we drove to Pescara to return our rental car and catch our train to Bologna.

"Better than I was." Still achy from whatever it was that attacked me over the weekend, I was looking forward to the train ride simply because we wouldn't be walking or doing much for the three hours of the trip from Pescara to Bologna. 

After a fun 30  minutes driving in circles (literally and figuratively) to find the Sixt Rental Car office, we caught a cab to Pescara Centrale, the main railway station in town.  (Note to the mayor of Pescara:  For the love of God, please put street signs at every intersection so people can actually see and use them. Grazie mille.)  We checked the departure board and saw that the train going to Bologna was leaving from Platform 3 at 11:05.

Quick coffee at train station

About 20 minutes before it was time to board, we went up to the platform to wait.  Shortly before the train was due to arrive, there was an announcement that the train to Bologna would be arriving in four minutes. I don't know what made me look at the board and at our tickets at that particular moment, but I did and noticed that the train number for our ticket was not the same as the 11:05 train. To add a little more intrigue to the situation, our departure time was 11:15.

"Holy crap," I said. "I think we have the wrong train again."  Being as I'm the one who organized this whole thing and insisted on using the trains, I was starting to get a complex about Trenitalia.  "I'll go check the board downstairs."  I did, and sure enough, there was a train leaving at 11:15.  Its endpoint was Venice, although it had a stop in Bologna.

"Thankfully you checked," the Big Dude said to me as 11:05 train pulled in.  "I wouldn't want to have to pay a penalty again for being on the wrong train.

"I think we might have noticed this was the wrong train anyway," I said as we watched the dilapidated four-car train stop in front of where we were standing.  

"Since our seats are in Coach 7 and there are only four here, we'd have figured it out," he agreed.

"Yep, this thing is not exactly the fast train," I added.  I remembered having had the choice of a regional (SLOW) train or intercity (FAST) train when I made the reservations, and I chose the fast train since the price was the same, there were fewer stops, and it got in an hour before the slow train.   "I noticed that the 11:05 has eleven stops before Bologna," I continued.  "We have three."

The 11:15 train arrived on time, and we headed north along the coast expecting to arrive in Bologna at 2:14.

Waiting in Pescara

We hit all three of our stops (Ancona, Pesara and Rimini) on time, and the coach we were in was still half-empty.  About five minutes after leaving Rimini, the train stopped in the middle of nowhere.  There was an announcement, and about all I could understand from the crappy train audio system was that we were going to be delayed 10 minutes.  The conductor came through shortly after, and while he was checking our tickets to make sure we were not hobos hitching an illegal ride (or tourists innocently on the wrong train and deserving a of fine), I said, "Bologna? Next stop? Yes?"

"Yes," he replied. "But did you hear what girl just said? We will be delayed 10 minutes."  I nodded my head, and he laughed.  "Of course, she said that 15 minutes ago. The guy sitting across the aisle flipped the air with his hand.

Time seemed to be a nebulous cloud at that point, something we were wading through.  Seriously. The 10-turned-15 minutes quickly doubled, and before long, the "girl" said we were going to be delayed 30 minutes.

Train station in Imola

I'm not sure how long we sat in the middle of the fields of  Santarcangelo, bu suffice to say that eventually they made a second announcement saying we'd be 60 minutes late to Bologna. People all around us moaned and swore loudly.  One guy called his wife, and from hearing this end of the conversation, I could tell that they wife was DONE WITH TRAINS.

Finally after hitting the 60-minute mark, we took off again.  The train seemed a bit sluggish, but we kept a slow-and-steady pace for a bit before coming to a stop in the middle of nowhere again.

Off we went after 30 minutes, and we traveled slowly until we hit Faenza.  We sat there a few minutes and headed toward Bologna.  I'm not going to go through all the stops in detail because they were, to tell the truth, all the same.  We'd stop, the gal would announce we'd be there 10 minutes, we'd end up being there much longer, and we'd take off. The gal would make an announcement about being delayed and thank us for our cooperation.  (Lady. What were we going to do?  Revolt?  Where would that get us?  The middle of the field? Please.)

Finally, a little after 4 pm, we pulled into Bologna Centrale. We were two hours late, tired, hungry, and anxious to get to the B&B where we're staying until Friday.  Getting the cab was, of course, easy, and the driver told me that all trains from the south were delayed because something happened to a track yesterday. Thanks for letting us know in advance, Trenitalia.

At any rate, we arrived at the B&B to find that no one was there to let us in. A note on the door said the owner would be back around 4:30.

"Well, we can't get mad at him for going out," I reasoned.  "We were two hours later than expected.'

 "I didn't plan on getting mad at him," the dude said. "I understand. It's not our fault we were late, and he might have something to do."

 Yep. Just keep telling yourself that, Skippy.  Someday we'll believe you.

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