There are two things typically involved in European independent trips that involve multiple destinations; train travel and mishaps. The more seasoned traveler has learned to go with the flow and be flexible as changes to plans are bound to happen. For us, it was a misunderstanding with our front desk hotel attendants that resulted in a missed train reservation from Paris to Torino, Italy. The next train we could hop on was 4 hours later and while the good news was we were able to get on the train, the bad news was all the first class cabins were full putting us in 2nd class. The main difference of train car classes is usually how large and comfortable the seats are, the leg room and the compartment amenities. Both cars have access to beverage and food carts and restrooms, but either way they both get you where you are headed.
Spending time in the train station is like reliving your youth. There is energy in the large stations and it is something so rare to find here in the US. The large trains and constant flow of international tourists, mixed with different languages, cultures and peoples make it exciting to be here. Our delay meant a not-so-good sandwich and some Heineken as we waited for the next train. On trains, I would always recommend chatting with the other passengers. They usually are kind people with a different background than your own and their local perspective on wherever they come from opens you up to a new world like reading a good book. We have always been chatters, and train rides were no exception.
As common as mishaps are on trips, pleasant surprises are also prevalent. For us, we met two kindly priests that were en route to Rome from a small town in Brazil. While they didn’t speak a word of English, a few collegiate level Spanish classes helped my new husband discuss with the elder of the two. They chatted in broken Spanish about their travels in Europe, other places they have been, etc… Upon parting with a smile, a truly universal language, we exchanged e-mails to virtually translate our future correspondents. And, a wedding gift, a wooden rosary. So, while some things happen and can ruin a day of vacation, you never know what you will find and sometimes these ‘mishaps’ end up with wonderful results and a day that is better than ever expected..