Our second day in Rome was a lot like our first. We walked a lot and hopped on and off the metro going to ruins, cathedrals, statues, and arches. Seeing all this stuff made me really wish I had paid more attention in history class (sorry dad), but we read as much as we could, trying to get a grasp at what it had been like in the time of the Romans. We spent some time at the Pantheon (of course). For lunch we had pasta and spent the rest of our day site seeing.
…we scrambled to find open seats. There were none. The train was packed.
Heads up for any of you wanting to visit Rome in the next year or two, Don’t. Several things (including the Trevi Fountain) are under construction so we could only see part of them or none at all.
That night for dinner we ran to the market and bought some cheese, meat, crackers, and strawberries (I haven’t had fruit in so long!) to eat on the train. We went to our hostel picked up our bags and headed to our train early to get good seats. We discovered that on night trains they have separate rooms with sliding doors each with six comfortable seats. We picked a room and put our bags up. A little later we were joined by a man who I don’t think spoke any English. Then three Italian girls came in who spoke some English. They told us that they had reserved seats in that room when they bought their tickets. We showed the Italian girls our ticket and asked them where our seats were (because we did not read Italian) and they said we did not have any reserved. With the train filling up fast we hoped that nobody came to reserve the seats we were in. Unfortunately they did. The rightful owners of the seats we were in took claim of them and we scrambled to find open seats. There were none. The train was packed. People were starting to fill up the aisles as well. We found the only spot open, on the floor in the back of a car right next to the bathrooms. We did not understand why we did not get a reserved seat. Was it because we bought them at a self service machine? Or because we did not buy them far enough in advance? Instead of dwelling on the fact that we had to spend seven hours on the floor of a train, we decided to enjoy it and make as many jokes as we could. It felt like London all over again, except for being homeless in a city we were homeless on a train.
Don’t trust Italian girls.
The first few hours on our train went fine, we joked around and talk to some of the other passengers (we mostly just played charades with them). But as we slowly became more and more tired our good attitudes became less and less. The back of the train was cold and people kept coming to use the bathroom so sleep was an impossible thing. With two hours left and barely any sleep we moved into the hallway of one of the cars where it was somewhat warmer. An hour later our new attendants got aboard and rechecked everyone’s tickets. When the lady got to us she checked our ticket then (and I am not kidding) stared at us like we were complete idiots. She proceeded to ask us why we were not in our seats. At first we did not know how to respond, we finally said we didn’t have reserved seats. She lowered our ticket and showed us at the bottom in small print surrounded by Italian words, “posts: 75,76” (Face. Palm.). Why the attendant who checked our tickets at the beginning of the trip did not feel the need to share this with us I have no idea. Since our seats were filled with seat stealers, she took us to two random seats (actually the seats we had first been in). About half an hour later we were kicked out of those seats and returned to our spot on the floor where we spent the rest of the ride.
So here are some tips when traveling by train in Europe: 1. Don’t buy from a self service machine when you don’t speak the language. 2. Ask about everything! 3. Don’t trust Italian girls.