Da da dahhhhhhh! Time for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Part 2!
As I'm sure you can guess, Part 2 will be about trains. I could mix it up and do the automobiles first but I'm sure there's at least one OCD person who would be bothered by the lack of order. So, trains! Above ground trains only, subways are a whole different thing.
I've only ridden two different train routes in my life. I choose not to count taking the little steam train at our local children's zoo or riding Thunder Mountain in Disney World. Though the latter costs more than my actual train trips.
These two train trips were fairly different experiences. First, I'll begin with the more successful. After all, everyone loves an optimist.
I took a train from Milan to Venice and then back again later that same day. This was my first experience of even remotely independent international travel. One other student and I took a day trip together during a free day of our study abroad. She and I got up incredibly early, so early in fact that the subway was closed. I didn't even know the subway ever closed. There was a gate across it! We took it to the train station and bought our tickets at an automated machine (thankfully, it had an English setting, incredibly easy to figure out and could avoid interacting with potentially unpleasant workers). We got on the train, got to Venice, and made it back to Milan in the evening with no problems. The train was clean, comfortable, spacious (little tables of four places at all the windows), and right on time. I felt so accomplished, a master of public transportation taking the subway and train in the same day without any direction.
The second trip was not as easy. I took a train from Warsaw to Krakow. Thankfully, the ticket was bought for me because the few people in Poland who didn't speak English were in such inconvenient jobs. It quickly went down hill from there. To begin, the train was over half an hour late, and while this was happening departure board continued to say it was leaving on time. An announcement came over the speaker in Polish and everyone on the platform started leaving. Panic! Was it cancelled? The board still said that platform half an hour ago. Thank God someone translated and said the platform was changed. The numbering system was so odd it took me longer than I would like to admit to find the new platform. At least I didn't miss it.
Eventually, the train left. Then there was the problem of finding my seat. It wasn't nearly as spacious as the Italian train (and I had 8 weeks worth of luggage as did the 7 other people I was traveling with). It looked a lot like this:
Um, I'm not sure everyone's bag is going to fit. They were not expecting people with weeks worth of luggage, or luggage at all it seems.
The other passengers were definitely not happy with the large bags. I was repeatedly glared at reproachfully. As they were speaking Polish, they may even have been insulting me but I like to think they were nicer than that. And really, those seats weren't any bigger than airplane ones. I have a bigger personal bubble than that.
Train travel seems very dependent on the specific line. I really enjoyed the first, but the second not so much. Their bathrooms were gross. I know many people take the train for all their travel and it can be pretty awesome. I'm just not quite that lucky it seems.
Until next time, God bless America.