July 12th, 2009

What happened to Italy?

  • Jul. 12th, 2009 at 7:42 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
3.42pm (Brisbane); 7.42am (Cinque Terra)

I had planned on writing on the train yesterday, but of course, something came up. A big something. But let me start from the beginning.

On Friday, we were still at Beaune. Dad and I visited the Hotel-Dieu Hospice, which was visiting, but I think I might have enjoyed it more if there was less construction happening. It took us about thirty minutes to go all the way through, so that was our morning taken. (I also had to return my bike, unfortunately.) As a family, we decided the Friday would be a rest day, merely because we were travelling to Monte Carlo (Monaco) on Saturday and had to prepare ourselves for that. I am not the best traveller in the world. Travelling makes me tired, even if I sleep all the way from Destination A to Destination B.

Saturday, we got to the train station on time, only to find that the train we wanted was no longer running. Beth and Mum's stomaches dropped to the centre of the Earth. They were thinking we'd just try to get trains all the way to Monaco, even though we'd miss our own booked trains and all of the other fast trains were booked out. I didn't even think of all this. I heard only a little bit of the conversation with the station attendant, as I was not next to Mum and Beth, but for some reason I immediately thought of a taxi. Obviously, Mum and Beth talked to Patrick (the taxi driver who drove us from the station to Rue Fauborg St-Martin) and found another taxi driver willing to go to Lyon's train station.

After a detour, two hours of watching the GPS and 340€ later, we arrived in Lyon, before our train made it in and got onto our booked trains.

We arrived in Monaco sometime in the afternoon.

Monaco, I thought, was similar to Las Vegas. There are casinos everywhere and it's a very glitzy place. It isn't. There are only a few casinos, all in the same spot – where the snobs drive up their cars and get stared at by the people waiting for someone famous to arrive. (I didn't see anyone famous.)

We went into one of the casinos, not to anywhere the tables were because we weren't properly attired, but we played the pokies as Beth had never gambled in her life. She won 40€ on top of the original 10€ Mum gave her. I didn't win anything, but I think it's because the machine went cold after paying out to Beth.

We went back to our itsy-bitsy hotel (where the showers were awfully small) and slept.

The next morning, after breakfast, we made our way to the train station. Next to our train it said “siprime”. Because none of my family speaks fluent French (unfortunately) and the word wasn't in our phrase book, we ignored it until 10.00am – twenty minutes before our supposed train. Usually at about the twenty minute mark, they also put up which platform the train will be arriving on. When this didn't happen at 10am, I went to ask another train attendant what's happened to our train. It turns out that the Italian trains were on strike. I was told we can take a train to Menton, a fifteen minute cab ride to Ventimigla and then try to figure out what to do from there.

We did exactly that. But in Ventimigla there are no buses to Genova directly (where we were trying to get to, to then get to La Spezia). We were told we could hope town to town to Genova. We hopped on a bus to San Remo (without a ticket because we didn't realise the bus driver sold them or that we had to get them beforehand; and we couldn't pay when we got off as their was no one at the bus depot), hopped off at the bus depot and supposedly there was a bus to Genova. We waited an hour and forty-five minutes. The bus did turn up, but wasn't letting anyone on – whether they had tickets or otherwise; the driver took on extra people in Nice and therefore the bus was full.

In the end we took a three hour, 400€ cab ride to Montorosso (Cinque Terra). Which is where I'm sitting now, looking out my window at the view.

This account, unfortunately, does not include all the people we met. In particular, one Swedish lady at the bus depot who spoke Italian and English. We seemed determined not the leave us without knowing how we were going to get to Cinque Terra. She rang her friend, who's a cab driver and got a guaranteed 400€ fare compared to what the drivers at the taxi rank where charging (500€). I feel that we could've made it through the day without her help, but would've paid much much more money doing so. We were so grateful Dad gave her one of his drawings.

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