Ten Day: Part Deux

by Berck

Well, the z and y of Luxembourgian kezboards is swaped. Other than that, I seem to be able to tzpe okaz. And zou’ll just have to deal with it.

I am, as zou might have guessed, in Luxemburg, the proper spelling of which seems to vary with the language.

So, I left you as were heading toward Milan. I’m still not really sure just why I decided to go to Milan, something to do with the mountains I’m sure. The train from Rome was long. It left at least a half hour late, and then stopped in some place called Orte at about midnight for a good 45 minutes, during which time they split and rearranged the train. While sitting in the dark because the train cars don’t get electricity when the engine isn’t attached, I had this instant realization that I had not validated my ticket. This is the, count it, third time I’ve had this problem. In Italy, and France too it seems, one purchases a train ticket, then sticks it in this stamping machine to validate it. This game is a game for which I don’t fully understand the necessity. I understand the necessity well enough to realize that I really didn’t want to get thrown off the train at 3am for not having stamped my ticket. So, in Orte, I ran off the train with my ticket, leaving both Robin and my stuff in the compartment. As I was stamping it and re-boarding the train, I realized that I was REALLY lucky they didn’t take off without me, because that would have left Robin with both of our bags heading to Milan, and me in Orte, (No, I hadn’t heard of it either) and not another train to Milan until the morning. Let’s just say I’m quite glad this did not happen. What made this adventure even more exciting is that a few minutes earlier, Robin said something to me about taking our bags if we ever get off the train for some reason. I responded with something like “Of course we would.” However, this problem could have been further complicated by the fact that had I taken my bag, I may have missed the train as I cannot run with a good 35 pounds strapped to my back. Well, I can’t run WITHOUT 35 pounds strapped to my back, but the weight certainly would have slowed me down. Moral of this story? When in Italy (or France), stamp the damn ticket BEFORE you board the train.

Robin and I were lucky on that train for other reasons as well. We had a six person compartment to our selves, which meant we could sleep lengthwise across the seats. With three people, you can pull the seats out and sleep crosswise, but its much shorter, and I don’t fit very well that way. However, at about 530am, I woke up to three loud obnoxious italian girls plowing into our sleepy little compartment. They stretched out, and robin and I sat up. Such is life. We got to Milan at something like seven in the morning. It was cold and rainy, and Robin and I still hadn’t a clue where we were going for ten-day. We decided to look for a Thomas Cook time table because it lists ferries in Europe as well, and we decided there might be ferries from Genoa or Le Spezia to Tunis. A Thomas Cook money change place that sells the time tables is on every street corner, it seems. Except in Milan. Or any place else when you might happen to be LOOKING for one.

Milan was cold and rainy. We talked about heading to Norway, which started sounding like a really good idea, despite the fact that Robin was packed for Tunisia. I was too, but being a guy who brought almost nothing to Europe with me that I don’t have with me right now, I was packed the same for Tunisia as I would be for the Amazon or Alaska. I probably would have brought my sweater if I were heading to Norway though. My jacket doubles as my raincoat, so I had it with me. (This arrangement is fine except when its not hot enough to get wet, but too hot to wear my jacket…)

The first thing we tried to do, was, once again rent a car because I had this urge to drive the Alps, and Robin liked the idea. We talked about it a good bit, sort of thought about where we’d go and so forth. All the cars in Europe are standard transmission (the Europeans are so cool that way), but Robin doesn’t know how to drive a real car. I agreed to teach her if we could find an empty place. Maybe it was a good thing no one will rent a car (or motorcycle) to anyone under 21. At least not in Rome or Milan. They will, however, rent mopeds. I guess they want us young people to die from being run over rather than running over something.

With no plan but a guide book, Robin and I plowed into the drizzling rain to see Milan. We stopped by the duomo, expecting to see a fairly boring Gothic church. We climbed out of the metro tunnel, turned around and dropped our jaws. The duomo of Milan is this HUGE, very Gothic cathedral. Turns out it’s the third largest in Europe, after St. Peter’s in the Vatican and something else. We spent a good half hour in the church, watched people file in for daily mass, and we took off.

We also stopped by this really big and cool looking castle, and discovered a large collection of museums inside. We couldn’t find anyone to pay admission to, though the sign said there was some. So we toured it for free. It was rather neat, but nothing terribly exciting. The castle was the neatest part. I suppose I should be excited that it contained Michelangelo’s last work, one of his Pietas, but it was unfinished and very boring looking.

We headed back to the train station and decided to go to Norway, and decided we needed to get to Hamburg to do so. I was all ready to do it until I discovered that the ticket to hamburg was roughly two hundred dollars. Yikes. I couldn’t spend that just getting to HAMBURG then have to get to Norway, then BACK. This depressed me, and Robin and I weren’t at all sure what to do. I felt really bad because Robin had a Eurail pass and so transportation was free for her, and long trains were even merrier for her because she doesn’t have to pay for a place to stay when we sleep on a train. I told her she was free to take off and not to let me stop her, but she didn’t seem too keen on Norway by herself. We talked about heading back south to Palermo (Sicily), but it seemed so stupid to waste the night getting to Milan, turn around and go back south past Rome. Frustrated, depressed, annoyed, and still without a clue we decided to go to Nice. I bought a ticket, and the board in the station said the train left 710am.

We found a hostel for 13 bucks a night per person, breakfast included. Only, breakfast didn’t start until 8am. Oh well. I was assigned bed and locker number 86. Or was it 68? I couldn’t tell because the number was on a key chain. Worse, the key opened both locker 86 and 68. However, 86 had stuff in it and 68 did not. Robin and I agreed to meet outside at 6am to head back to the station. I set my alarm for 515am so I could take a shower and have plenty of time.

I woke up Saturday morning at 615 to Robin shaking me saying “Berck! Wake up! It’s six fifteen!” I’m sure the other three people in the room much appreciated being woken up. I threw my pack on my back, dropped my sheets at the counter and we set off briskly toward the metro. The train took forever to show up. We got to the station at 703am. We boarded the train as the doors were about to close. It wouldn’t have been too big a deal if we missed the train as the next one was in a few hours, but we wanted to sped the day in Nice.

We arrived in Nice and decided to look for a place to spend the night and ditch our bags. Strangely enough, we had a heck of a time finding an ATM in Nice. Both of us needed one as Nice is in France, and the French aren’t too happy about lire. We could have bought francs with it, but you lose a fair amount of money buying and selling it like that, where as you don’t pay a commission on ATM withdrawals.

HOLY FREAKING CRAP. Robin just came over and told me that, guess what, Dr. Pepper is sold here. This just made my week. Oh man. I haven’t had one since I left for Europe. I think it tastes a little different here, but I’ve not had one in so long, I could be wrong. Oh man. This is so good. Wow. I wonder what I payed for it. They gave me a glass with ice too. Geeze. I LIKE luxembourg.

Anyway, as we exited the train station, the first thing we saw was a Thomas Cook exchange place. The trick is the same as that for a locating Pizza Rustica– don’t look for one.

Man, I’m sitting at a keyboard sipping Dr. Pepper. Life is good.

We found an ATM eventually, and started looking for hostels. Every hotel that had dorm beds was booked. We finally found a double with two beds and no bathroom for roughly 28 dollars a night. Not bad split two ways. They didn’t even charge for use of the hall shower like some places do.

After ditching our bags in the hotel room, we set out for the Musea de Beux Arte. Turns out it was quite a collection, lots of important French pieces there. Most notably was Rodin’s “Kiss”. This work didn’t excite me much until I found out it was originally titled “Francesca de Rimini”. For those of you that don’t know, she’s a historical figure that was supposed to marry this guy Paolo’s brother whose name I really should know. The problem was, she really wanted Paolo, but the families had her marrying his brother for political reasons. (why else would you get married?) One day, while reading the story of Lancelot aloud to Francesca, Paolo dropped the book and began passionately kissing Francesca, whereupon the guy she was married to walked in and killed them both. This story, true or not, was immortalized by Dante who places them in the fifth (?) circle of hell where sins of the flesh are punished. Anyway, there was something really neat about having my UD education let me understand a chunk of stone in Nice that otherwise seemed merely to portray a random kiss.

Dr. Pepper is such good stuff.

Robin and I decided to head to Monaco in the morning, then back to Nice in the afternoon to catch a train for Geneva. We did in fact go to Monaco which is worth seeing just because it drips of wealth. I really wanted to see the Prince of Monaco’s collection of “110 of the sexiest classic cars” (according to my guide book), but Robin wasn’t too interested and I’m nice enough not to drag her. In addition, we couldn’t find it and admission was supposedly pricey, like everything else. Most things in Monaco were closed on Sunday, and there weren’t as many cool cars on the street as I’d been lead to believe there were. There was, however, the coolest square rigged sail boat sitting in the harbor that I’ve ever seen. The weather was quite windy, and the spray that leaped over the boats was impressive.

We ate pizza for lunch, and headed back to Nice, but Geneva wasn’t easy to get to. Instead, we decided to go to Luxemburg. In order to do so, we decided to send the night in Marsaille and then the night in Paris. This we did, and will be featured in the next chapter of Berck’s Ten Day which sees Berck wandering the streets with a three foot baguette trying both not roll around on the ground laughing at himself or kill anybody with it.

Au revoir.

2 Responses to “Ten Day: Part Deux”

  1. duomo milano Says:

    great info, thanks!

  2. Kelsey Says:

    The Milan duomo looks like a huge drip sandcastle…

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