Two friends 60 plus travelling on their own through Europe. Strange things are bound to happen.
Early morning on the way to Florence Italy from Beatenberg Switzerland.
We reach the train station in Interlaken with 10 minutes to spare before having to catch a train to Milan. I leave my friend with the bags and run to the ticket office to validate our ticket bought online.
The officer at the ticket office looks at the ticket and says in barely understandable english: “You vant to go by ze boat?”
It took me a few moments to process what he was saying before answering : “No the train”
“But zis is vhat you bought zis is for ze boat”, he says
He shows me the word “shiff” hidden away in one corner of the ticket. My heart sinks and I think fast. Buy another ticket is the only option.
When asking to buy new train tickets he answers: “No is okay, I vill change it for you but you must not talk ze train is coming”
So, although I have a million questions, I keep quiet. His computer is agonizingly slow and I hear the train arriving outside.
At last he hands me the tickets with the words: “You must run ze train is leaving” and run I did.
We make it onto the train and sit down feeling relieved .
Then the funny side of the situation hits me as I recall the incredulous look and sound in the officer’s voice and face when I presented him with my online bought tickets. I wonder what my face looked like?
We travel to Milan where we have to change trains to Florence. A few days later, another train station, this time in Milan. Our travels are coming to an end and we have to go to Lake Como for the last night of our journey. A simple 30 minute journey by train and we will be there. But it was not to be. On this morning the electronic system showing the platforms and times for departing trains malfunctions. Time goes by and no magic number to indicate the platform from which our train will depart appears on the system.
A metallic voice rattles off instructions in Italian of which we understand nothing. By the time we realize what the problem is, it is 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time of our train. We frantically ask people around us to explain the Italian only to be met by blank stares and shrugs of shoulders.
I set off to find information at one of the ticket booths, weaving my way through early morning commuters, tourists laden with luggage and backpackers obscuring the view with their huge packs on their backs.
At last I find an official who can speak english, to hear again:” Platform 4 run the train is leaving”.
So I run again shouting at my friend: ” Run platform 4!”
We run with our wheelie bags and as we run I feel my bag gaining momentum, pulling me along in stead of me pulling it along!
Out of breath we make it onto the train. I flop down completely out of breath and smile inwardly as I think what a sight we must have been, Two 60 plus ladies both a little overweight, running with their luggage and jumping onto the train. But it was not the end yet. Barely two stations further we are instructed to get off the train and change to another. Completely lost we try to find out which train and which platform would be the right one.
The only answer I get from the officer is : “Non stresso, go Chiasso”
I understood it meant don’t stress but what Chiasso meant I didn’t know. Much later we understood we were meant to take the trainline in the direction of Chiasso.
Eventually we meet a friendly couple from Spain also travelling to Como who direct us to the right train. We reach Lake Como after a 5 hour journey. Here it is pouring with rain.Exhausted and hungry we find the first open cafe and sit down with our luggage still in tow.
When the rain eventually lets up we continue to our hotel where we are rewarded with this wonderful view from the window of our room.
Will I do it again?
Yes definitely, the joy of discovering new places far outweighs the difficulties encountered along the way.