Two ladies, two suitcases and a train to catch
Since I already introduced you to the suitcase-packing exercise last week I thought it’d be funny to share another story about the value of a well-packed, lightweight travel bag.
When my mum and I had decided to visit Italy we planned to fly into Rome, then take the train to Florence, then to Venice where we’d take a plane back home.
After five amazing days in Rome we schedule to leave the hotel in the morning, take the subway to central station and hop on to the Frecciargento – the Italian express trains.
What we hadn’t considered was that thousands of Romans would be also on the subway in the morning. There we were, two ladies with suitcases (one containing six packets of tissues amongst other items that may or may not have been of use during the trip) trying to squeeze into an already crowded subway. Did I mention we don’t speak Italian? So we had no way of knowing whether the people talking to us on the subway were scolding our foolishness for trying and travel with suitcases during rush-hour or whether they were telling each other to squish closer and make room for us.
Arriving at Central Station hot and sweaty from all the squishing we were ready for our first coffee break. While sipping on our cups we were intently eying the departure board to find out what platform we needed to go to. Ten minutes before the train was supposed to leave the board finally revealed the number and my mum and I shuffled through the crowds in the station to get to our train.
Huffing and puffing from all the zigzagging our people we made our way down the station and along platform to get to our carriage. Little groups of travellers where already crowding around the entrances to get on to the train like us. With the clock ticking we cued up and hopped in. At this stage the carriage had already filled up with people still trying to fit their luggage into overhead compartments or between seats.
“Well, we’re on the train, we can now relax,” we thought, but relaxing we couldn’t yet. Slowly we moved along the corridor to get to our seats realising that we probably would have been better off boarding the carriage from the other side as our seats were closer to that end than the one we were starting from. Unfortunately another group of travellers had committed the same felony. Too eager to get on the train they hadn’t realised their seats were closer to our entrance and not their side. So we slowly moved towards each other inevitably meeting in the middle in a conundrum of pushing, more squeezing, lifting suitcases and backpacks to pass each other in the small available space.
As you can see from the picture we did make it to our seats well before we arrived in Florence. We learned our lesson for the journey from Florence to Venice and checked the seat numbers before entering the train, yay! My mum also agreed to leave at least two packs of tissues at home next time…
Let me also tell you, travelling by train in Italy is awesome – it’s cheap, quick, reliable and if you consider it I highly recommend to pre-purchase tickets as counters at Rome’s central station are usually packed. The Trenitalia website is good and this is also a great place to find more info about travelling by trains all over the world.