Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Interim Train/Bus Voyage

This post will probably not be too long, because it doesn’t cover that long of a time span. After the airport, I needed to get to the shuttle train station, located under a tunnel and up a staircase, to get to the bus station. It was then that I encountered yet another anti-reasonable measure the Italians had taken with this airport – there were obstructing bars around the escalator entrances to prevent anything other than people going up them. Therefore, I couldn’t simply take the escalator down into the tunnel, and then up to the train station. Instead, I clunked my luggage down the first staircase, all the while picking up my pace to avoid getting run over by my own baggage (which would have been a betrayal of the highest nature), then I schlepped my luggage up the second staircase, which was equivalent to about three or four stories of marble stairs.

I pitied the people that had strollers that had to navigate that passage. Then I pitied the people in wheelchairs. Then I felt sad thinking about a person in a wheelchair falling down the stairs. Then I laughed about it.

After taking out my first bunch of money from the local bancomat and purchasing a ticket on the train (€5.50 for a train ticket that doesn’t even go into Rome? For shame, old man at the ticket counter, for shame!), I waited on the lonely walkway, waiting for a while for the train to come and hoping that I bought the right ticket. When it pulled up, I was in the front of the line to get on the train. Normally, this wouldn’t have meant anything in Italy, and women and old men (and I would say probably the aforementioned kid in the stroller) would be pushing past me to get on the train. I, however, had the advantage of carrying 60 pounds of clunky baggage and 12 hours of jet lag that would lead to outright aggression against anyone who thought of cutting.

Trains in Italy have the seats arranged in fours, with a pair of seats facing another pair of seats. Normally, four could fit, but I selfishly (and proudly) took an entire quartet by myself by placing my luggage on the other seats. Fortunately, not many people entered at my stop, so there was no hostility or encounters.

At the next stop, a girl my age slowly and with much difficulty got into the quartet opposite me (she had many bags as well). Peering over to see if she needed help, I noticed her nametag, and her name was that of one of my future classmates in Siena. I asked her if she was going to Siena, and in fact, she was one of my Siena buddies.

Anne (her name) and I chatted for the 45-minute train ride, mostly about our excitement of seeing Italy in general and Siena in particular. After getting off at Tiburtina Station, we tried to find the bus station, thinking the ticket booth would be at the train stop. This was not the case. After asking a few people, we managed to find it by leaving the station, turning right, crossing the street, entering the dark portal of Azeroth, and taking the first left to get to the ticket counter. We bought our tickets for twenty euro each (which wouldn’t have surprised me if the bus line’s website hadn’t explicitly, in large and friendly letters, claimed that it was only five euro. I’m calling you out, SENA bus lines!) and then had a quick bite at the sandwich shop across the street. I tell you, salami on white bread has never tasted so good.

We went on the bus, knowing that we would pass through the beautiful Tuscan countryside on the way to the stop. We both planned to watch it in all its beauty. Unfortunately, not five minutes after the bus pulled out to leave, we passed out in our seats and slept for nearly two hours.

When I woke up, my face was compressed, my hair was strewn about, and the sleep did nothing to alleviate my jet lag. Also, I was compressed into one seat, with the sun shining through the window onto my lap. When I woke up, my legs felt warm, wet, sticky, and miserable. I spent my last ten minutes thinking what the feeling was similar too. I finally figured that it would be like if my crotch and thighs were raw chicken, and then someone microwaved them. Sorry to put that thought in your heads, but that’s the only way I can properly convey it.

We got off at Piazza Gramsci, which is named after one of Italy’s most famous communists. I believe one of his greatest works translates as “Capitalism Can Suck It” (I’m paraphrasing). At the stop, we met David, the main director of the Siena program, and he led us to our apartments.

Next time: My apartment, my roommates, and many pictures to come!


  1. I know that warm, wet, sticky, miserable crotch feeling all too well charlie..

    But to add some truth to the comment... at least all that luggage hauling gave you an incredible build with which to start your Italian semester.

    So now the truth, i guess.. sounds like you're loving it there! That's awesome!

  2. Charlie, I love you dearly, HOWEVER, your chicken analogy was a little unnecessary! Hope you're having fun!

  3. hey! I figured out how to comment on here!

    Lucky kid ... even considering chickenthighs.