European.Escape – In transit through Italy – December 2011

This part of the trip has got to be the most… what’s the word?  Interesting?  Exciting?  Eventful?  Memorable?

It starts with the four of us leaving Bologna, heading to Patras, Greece.  We need to catch a train to Rome, then another one to Bari and then an overnight ferry to Patras, leaving at 8:00pm.  We checked out of our hotel in Bologna and literally walked across the street to the train station.  We were in such a relaxed mood because it was so convenient, we were not in any hurry.  We boarded our train to Rome with no problem.  Rome was the last stop on this train, so we got comfortable and chit-chatted for awhile.

We reached Rome and, still in the relaxed mood, waited at our next platform.  We wondered why our platform was so short, as we were seated in the eighth car.  As we waited, we started to also wonder why no one else was waiting with us.  Yes, it was a deserted platform.  We double checked our tickets and saw the same number on the platform, and just waited a little while more.  We watched as a train of maybe three cars came to a stop at our platform and knew it couldn’t be ours.  When maintenance guys walked off, and it was about 5 minutes to our departure, we decided to ask.  “Are we at the right platform?”  The guy looked at our tickets and said, “No, other side!”  He rushed us to an underground walkway and told us to hurry!  With our luggage in tow, we ran across to the other side of the platform, with literally minutes to spare!

Whew!  We made it!  We found our seats, realized we were separated and had to sit on different sides of the train.  No problem, at least we got on the train.  I started to get comfortable and took off my jacket and my scarf and relaxed… we were safely on our way to Bari.  For the next few stops, we realized again that people would wait in the aisle a few minutes before the train actually stopped.  We now understood that as soon as the train stops, you need to get off – there’s no waiting!  Good thing we realized this before we had to get off!

Jay kept checking his watch – it was about 10 minutes until our scheduled stop.  He warned us that we should start thinking about getting ready, so I put everything back into my bag, checked to see if I had my scarf and gloves, and got my jacket ready.  A few minutes later we started to feel the train slowing down… an announcer mentions a stop ahead, unfortunately it was in Italian.  We all looked at each other and panicked – we need to get off this train!  We rushed to get our jackets on, and quickly collect our luggage which was spread in opposite directions.  We headed to one end of the car, while our friends headed to the other.  Jay, being the take-charge-kind-of-guy, grabbed both our suitcases and told me to go ahead of him.  I did and he struggled with the bags, getting caught by a stroller left in the middle of the aisle.  He turned desperate and frustrated and I could tell he wanted to break through the obstacle.  I lifted it up for him, which freed him through just as a lady told us to hurry up and jump off.  The train began rolling away just as we got off the train, with our friends waiting for us on the platform.

Whew, number 2.  Our friends were nervous that we weren’t going to get off in time, wondering what happened to us.  They sighed with relief as we jumped onto the platform.  We looked around, wondering where to catch a taxi when I looked up and noticed the train station sign.  Our friend probably noticed it at the same time as she asked, “Are we at the right station?”  “Maybe Bari is short for Barletta?”  Umm… no.  We got off at the wrong fricken’ station!

After a desperate what-do-we-do moment, we decided to hop on the next train, headed towards Bari (we confirmed with several people on the platform that this was correct).  However, this train was now a commuter train that stopped at every single train station!  We were nervous as we had to get onto our ferry at 8:00pm, actually check in at 7:30pm.  It was already past 7:00!  After paying an extra fee (the train attendant caught us), we arrived at the correct train station in Bari at 7:40pm.  We were all wondering, are we actually going to make it?

We jumped off the train in a hurry and ran to the entrance to find a taxi.  I pissed off a couple of people as I nudged them out of the way (okay, I ended up pushing some).  We jumped into a Fiat and told the guy – Superfast Ferry, please!  He asks, “To Greece?” and we said yes.  He looked at his watch and asked, “8:00 ferry?”  We said yes.  He hesitated for a minute then took off.

I would like to thank the Fiat company and Mr. Taxi Driver because we got to the ferry dock in no time!  He drove us as far in as he could take us and told us to RUN!  And run we did, all the way to the ticket counter.  At the ticket counter (7:55pm), the attendant looked at us in disbelief, probably thinking, “Really, people?  You want to catch the ferry now?”  Luckily, she checked us in and once again we were told to RUN!  Okay, running again…

O-M-G!  I hate running.  I don’t run.  And why the heck do they make the damn ticket counter so faaar away from the fricken’ boat?!  We ran as Jay reached the security gate, me huffing and puffing all the way back, gasping for air…. “I… can’t… breathe!”  I heard the ferry starting up and yelled, “We’re not going to make it!”  Jay just yelled back at me, “HURRY UP!”  I approached the security, and the guy actually told, “No worry… no worry.”  So I stopped running.  Thank you, Mr. Security.

Whew, number 3.  We actually hopped onto the ferry at 7:58pm and hadn’t even reached the main lobby area yet when the boat started to pull away.

This whole scene would’ve made for some great T.V. reality show.  We were in such a rush, I didn’t even think about taking out the camera.  This is the only picture I have, taken the next morning when we finally reached Patras, Greece.

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Our Superfast Ferry

what.I.learned

  • Double check what platform to wait at when taking a train.
  • Know how many stops before yours.
  • Wait to get off a few minutes prior to the train actually stopping.
  • Fiats are great!
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One thought on “European.Escape – In transit through Italy – December 2011

  1. Pingback: Prague.Czech Republic.December 2013 | a.d.t. - attention.deficit.traveler

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