Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

As with most of these trips, the first day was spent in travel of various forms.  We started out in an auto with Brian taking us to the airport in Atlanta.  Our flight to Rome boarded on time and the trip was good.  We were laughing with the check-in agent as we boarded and Michael mentioned that we had been married for 33 years.  He reached into his pocket and handed me two vouchers for free alcoholic drinks and said “if you have been married to him for that long, then you are going to need these!!!”
We arrived in Rome about 6:30am which was 20 minutes early.  We found our way to the train station at the airport and purchased tickets to the main train station in Rome….Termini.  Once there, we trooped to the nearest biglietteria (ticket office) to get our rail passes validated and make the reservation for our trip to Milano.  After standing in one line we were told that we needed to go someplace else and after a 45 minute wait we were ready for the Train part of our journey.    I had my first conversation in Italian while we were waiting.  I was looking at the Departure board for the trains and a young girl came up and asked me a question. I looked quizzically at her and said “No parlo Intaliano” (I dont understand Italian).  She smiled and shrugged!!
We are riding the rails as I write this and are enamored by the small hilltop villages that dot the landscape.  Many have a wall built around them, reminding us that they were once fortresses.
I have seen my favorite fields of sunflowers….they are everywhere.  The first few that I saw were already seeded out and were not yellow, but  we have now passed many golden fields.
There are also vineyards at every turn, making us look forward to the Vino while we are here!!
As usual, we have already learned several things….  First of all the word for platform is binario, the train cars have numbers on them describing what class of passengers can sit there, and finally, our tickets will tell us which car number we are in so that we can line up in the correct spot for our seats.
I was hungry so walked back to the club car to get a sandwich…..a wonderful pannini with cheese and tomato.   I also bought a cup of hot tea.  You should have seen me bouncing from wall to wall and trying very hard not to spill hot liquids on the other passengers.   I obviously didn’t have my “sea” legs yet.
I am now writing from our hotel in Milan.  We are both tired, but are happy to be here.  Apparently we are going out to dinner tonight with some people from the conference…..hope I dont fall asleep in my minestrone!!!!

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