Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trains, Part I

A regional train

 “I like trains. I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places...”
~ Anna Funder

 I love traveling by train.  I like being able to sit in a coach and have someone else take care of the driving.  I do get a little carsick (especially on the regional trains), but I've learned how to lessen it by where I sit and where I look while the thing is moving.

Jerry, Barb, Ed, Nancy, & Kathy waiting for the train

Over the last week, we've traveled to Florence, Venice, Modena, Verona, Ravenna, Pescara, Sulmona, and Rome by train. The longest journeys were from Bologna to Pescara (three hours by fast train) and Sulmona to Rome (three hours by regional train). The fast trains can go over 200 km per hour, and they have fewer stops than the regional trains. One's fast train reservation includes a coach and seat assignment, and there is one car that has food and beverage. On the longer distances, there are stewards/stewardesses who bring a snack cart through the train.


I always travel second class because, quite frankly, I can't see too much of a difference between first, business, and second class.  The coaches are all clean, and the seats are about the same.  The two other classes may get a newspaper, drink, and snack included, but it's not enough to make me want to pay the very high extra fee to get those few things.  If I can get business silence for the same price as second class, I do that.  For example, tomorrow I am going back to Bologna, and I'm in the silent car.  Basically, that means that no one talks, uses phones, or plays music or makes any noise.


Travel of any kind, even the kind when you aren't doing anything, is tiring.  We left Sulmona yesterday at 10:25 and arrived at Roma Termini around 2:00. We had all slept a little on the train, but we were all very tired when we arrived.  While the heat had something to do with it, I think a lot of the exhaust was just due to the stress of travel.  

Train travel is very affordable in Europe.  The various train systems (Each country has its own.) release the fast train schedules/tickets three-to-four months in advance, and the earlier one books a ticket, the better the price.  As an example, I booked my May 15 ticket for travel from Milan to Rome in February. It cost me 49 euro. The day I arrived, I checked the price on the ticket machine, and the same class ticket I had was 200 euro. My Rome-to-Bologna ticket tomorrow cost 19 euro when I bought it months ago. Today, it's selling for 56 euro.

 Sadly, I leave my second group tomorrow and return to Bologna by train.  I'll introduce you to them in the next few days.  Until then, ciao....

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