- Italian trains have coupés that can turn into pretty nice beds, if you are lucky enough to find an empty one!
- You can leave your luggage at the train stations. Back then, they didn’t have lockers, you gave it to a guy and he gave you a number. However, it was expensive (I think 10 euros for one), so we were going to hotels around the train station and we were asking if we can leave it there for less money. In Florence, we left them at an electronics store for free, such a nice guy! But the world was a simpler place then, I doubt now that anyone would let an unknown person store their luggage in their hotel/store.
- Italians don’t check train tickets. We got checked 1-2 times in total, whereas in northern Europe we were getting checked 1-2 time per train ride!
- Italy is absolutely beautiful. Although we visited many cities, I want to go again and see even more cities! I think it is one of the most beautiful countries.
1. Brindisi – 4/8
Anecdote of our city experience:
First encounter with Italians: We get off the ship and we try to find the bus station. We locate a couple, around thirty years old. We ask:
“Where is the bus station?”
Desperate, I make a movement as if I am driving a bus.
The Italian shines and says “Aaaaa, bous!”
Yes, such a huge difference from “bus”.
Since then and for the rest of my life, I jump to body language with the first sign of no communication.
It is a cute city, with a nice center with stores and palm trees. We walked around a bit, then sat on a cafeteria by the sea. We were wondering what to do next (it is a small city and we already saw the center!). There was a free touristic bus that took us to a mall nearby, so we spent some time on the train (not so much at the mall).
After that we still had some time to kill until our night train to Rome. We bought some food and we relaxed at the central square, watching people as they went out for the night. They looked kind of overdressed to just hang out at the central square of Brindisi, but I think the situation is the same in Greece 🙂
Finally it was time to take our train!
2. Rome – 5/8 & 6/8
Anecdote of our city experience: In the summer we make fun of tourists in Athens that use the disgusting fountain water in Syntagma square to cool themselves.
I did the same thing constantly in Rome.
In my defense the water was very clean! I almost drank it at some point!
I also discovered that I can’t drink stilled water even if I am super thirsty. It just doesn’t reduce the thirst!
We had booked a hostel behind the train station. It turned out to be a house turned into hostel, owned by some chinese women that also owned a cafe. It was actually the first time for both of us to sleep at a hostel!
We left our stuff and walked around for the next two days (ok, we slept too).
Rome is very beautiful! There are architectural marvels everywhere.
There is no point in starting to start listing them here: just go visit!
Worst part of the whole trip probably:
We “slept” outside of the train station in order to take the first train to Florence.
In the city center of Rome.
I still remember the face of young asian woman, obviously on drugs, that was walking slowly in front of the station, with her mind in another place…
3. Florence – 7/8
Anecdote of our city experience: That night we slept at a piece of grass-area outside of the train station.
Next to us were a bunch of Roma people, dressed up in colorful clothes and everything, also waiting for the morning train.
They started arguing when it was my turn to sleep.
A lot. And loud.
At some point one of them was saying “Ssshhhh” all the time and in my half-sleeping state I was thinking “He is so nice, he is telling them to be quiet because I am sleeping”. When I mentioned that to my boyfriend the next day he laughed and said “No, one of the women was trying to talk and he didn’t let her.” I take back all the nice things I thought about that guy.
Florence is so nice! The bridge is wonderful!
Also the rest of the city was very nice, it has a brown-building vibe, there was a market in the center and some gardens we did not visit (we didn’t want to spent money on museums and such). It also looked like a normal city that people live, not like Venice which is 100% touristic.
At night, after “sleeping” outside (see above for the experience) we took the train to Venice.
4. Venice – 8/8
Anecdote of our city experience: We hijacked an American family and shared their gondola. That way we only paid half (40 euros), which we gave to the father of the family. We thought they also wanted to save money and that is why they agreed to take us with them. And then we found out that he didn’t even care how much he gave to the gondolier, he just handed over a bunch of cash and left!
The city: The city is of course very beautiful, you have all seen photos of it.
It is a labyrinth. Thankfully there are many signs that show which way is the train station and which way is the St. Mark’s square. That’s all you need to know! Maps are useless there!
We saw pretty much everything and then returned to the train station at about 18:00. We were lucky, because it just started to rain!
Italian police did random checks on passport there, reporting to someone through their radio which country each person came from.
A sad thing:
It is known that pigeons are monogamous, they mate for life. St. Mark’s square is full of pigeons, that literally will sit on your head (I have a photo to prove it!).
There was a dead pigeon in the square and its mate was jumping around it, poking it, trying to bring it back to life. I still remember this scene, 7 years later… So sad 😦
Worst train ride of the whole trip: The original plan was to go to Torino I think. But we really wanted to sleep a little more this time. And I think there were not trains to Torino.
So what do we do?
We go to Napoli!
(check the map to that Napoli is even souther than Rome! Not only we went back, we went even further on the “wrong” direction!)
Unfortunately the train was full.
Some people entered the train in the middle of the night and they had tickets with our seat numbers (interrailers just sit wherever and have no rights if they haven’t booked a seat), so we had to get up and leave that coupé.
There was no space to sit in the corridor, all the coupés looked full and I was so tired (if you are keeping count, I haven’t slept almost at all for 2 days). I felt so horrible I couldn’t hold back my tears.
In the end we entered a coupé with 3 people that were lying, woke them up and tried to sleep sitting up.
Extra bonus: one of these guys was extremely stinky!
5. Napoli – 9/8
Anecdote of our city experience: We had a plastic bag with some supermarket croissants and my bathing suit. I didn’t know if there is a swimmable beach in Napoli, but if you are keeping count again, I needed a shower, so I took my bathing suit just in case.
(don’t worry, Italy was the most dirty part of the trip, there are frequent showers in the future)
Anyway, my boyfriend left the plastic bag down to take a photo, in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. We accidentally left it there and when we came back 5 minutes later, it was gone. Napoli…
The city: I don’t remember much of the city. Totally different from the rest of the cities we had seen. Nothing touristic to see, a lot of garbage, steep hills and cheap food! We finally ate something not from the supermarket! (don’t get your hopes up, it was from a street vendor!)
I kind of liked it, I found it interesting. It felt like real Italy!
But I should tell you now, we voted it as the worst city of all we visited.
I don’t even have a photo to put here 🙂
Also we didn’t go to Pompeii, no time 😦 I would have liked that.
Next destination was Nice!
Very far as you can see on the map. But we slept and we had so much fun with the people in our coupé. Everyone was from a different country, most of them doing a similar kind of train trip so we talked a lot, heard their experiences and played UNO!