Never trust grown men eating ice cream.
I started out yesterday at about 11.00 Central European Time
. I was in the town of Pula
, on the Istrian
penninsula. A beautiful town it is, with a very slow and relaxed pace of life. I was taking a (what I thought would be) brief break from my travels about central Europe
. I was ready to head back north, to Austria
or somesuch. Tomaz in Ljubljana
had recommended that I go to Venice
, but accomodation there is expensive and usually full, so I deemed that impractical.
After a rather long and unfruitful search for information on transportation connections, I deemed it preferable to take the 16.00 bus to Trieste (or "Trst" in Croatian) and then make my way to a night train to Innsbruck from there. I had quite a bit of time, so I went to the beach for a bit of a swim before my trip, got some food, &c.—details are irrelevant.
I got on the bus, and sat acrosss from a guy who was in my room at the hostel in Pula. We chatted some as we headed north and west. We passed briefly through Slovenia and then into Italy, getting our passoports checked four times but not stamped even once. (Damn!)
Arrived in Trieste, my temporary companion and I went to the train station. My train left from the Venezia Mestre station after a couple hours, and I hoped I might be able to at least take a brief walk about the town before my train. I disappeared and didn't say goodbye to him. That's where my troubles began.
Alas, the station was not the one in town. I went to try to buy a ticket to Innsbruck, but as I arrived in the office all the windows closed. I tried the machines, but they were not valid for international travel. I helped a woman who spoke Italian to me and didn't have time to hurry and was dropping her coins. Then I wandered looking for another place to get tickets, and managed to ask someone in broken Italiañol (or is it Espaniano?) about it, and did learn that I could buy the ticket on the train.
I decided to go to Zürich rather than Innsbruck, because it was a direct train and I couldn't get information about the connection to Innsbruck with all the info windows closed. I had over an hour to wait, and I realized I was hungry.
I headed over to the café that had been open only minutes before—and it was closed too. Everything was closing just as I needed it. It was getting pretty frustrating. I made my way across the street to a Best Western of all places and had myself a croissant and orange juice. I later found a place to buy nuts and Ritz crackers. I managed not to starve.
The train station was full of all sorts of cute Italians and seedy scary grown men eating ice cream mulling about and ignoring me. If there's one thing I have learned from the movies, it's not to trust grown men eating ice cream. I wandered and waited, tried to get machines to work, and found a phone that took 5 DM coins, of all things. I called Kelly, partially to say hello and partially to hear something familiar to confirm my existence, which I was beginning to doubt. She wasn't there, but the voicemail greeting soothed me somewhat. I left an incoherent message.
In dreams, things that don't make sense make sense. I felt like I was in a dream, so I put my sunglasses on. It didn't help.
Finally the train. The one car to Zürich was full, and the man told me to go to the other part of the train and transfer in Milano. The train was packed far beyond capacity, and I squeezed through, full of "scusi"s and "Entschuldigung"s and "pardon"s and "excuse me"s. I finally stopped at the end of one car and stood. Next to me was an ugly man who seemed to think it would be better to try to stand where I was standing rather than get within 20cm of the Cantonese-(I think)-speaking girl on his other side. In the WC were at least two men who shouted constantly in grotesque cartoon voices. I'm not sure if they were drunk, fucking, dying, or just plain bored. I was at one point convinced that I was dreaming, and slapped myself and tried to read things to see if I was. I wasn't, it was actually real.
In Verona I decided I had had enough and decided I could probably get a connection from there. I got off the train, never having paid. In the station, my suspicions were confirmed; I had about an hour to wait for a train to Innsbruck. I tried to sit down on a ledge, but a man chased me away. I put the money together to buy some water, got a phonecard from a machine, and tried calling again. Kelly wasn't at home or at her mother's, but I did have a good conversation with her mother, Bev. I was reassured, and believed I was real.
On the next train, again full. Well, the compartments could hold 6 sitting, most were full with 3 lying down. I sat in the corridor for an hour and a half and didn't sleep at all. Eventually some people got off and I got into a compartment, where I got less than 2 hours of sleep.
I slept through the stop at Innsbruck. Had I gotten off there, I think I would have completed a journey of several hundred kilometers without paying. But the conductor came at last and I bought a ticket from him. Got off two stops past Innsbruck, and decided that Fate had deemed it best I not go there. Got a ticket to Munich, wrote some postcards, got on the train and read the International Herald Tribune. Arrived around 10.00.
So now I'm here, at easyEverything. I had two hours of sleep and spent 18 hours travelling. I can't quite balance, the world is spinning. Sounds like a good time to visit Dachau.