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30 June 2007 - Italy!

Posted by admin on June 30, 2007

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I've spent the last few days meandering down to Napoli (Naples) and seeing the sights in the area. Since parting ways with Jesse and Steve in Mannheim I've covered a lot of distance and seen some absolutely gorgeous scenery.

My train from Mannheim to Zurich was great! I love the German ICE trains. They're so comfortable and clean. The German scenery was beautiful, too. Once I made it to Zurich I had to quickly change trains to cross the Alps. I had a whopping 11 minutes between trains. Everything was running on time, though, and I had no problem making it to my train as it only took a couple minutes to get from one platform to the other.

Crossing the Alps was absolutely gorgeous! I started taking some pictures partway through but I ran into two problems. First, the scenery was so breathtaking that I had trouble remembering to take pictures. I just wanted to watch it roll past the train. And second, my batteries died as I was taking pictures in the Alps so I had to cut my photographing short. The Alps reminded me a lot of the Rockies back in the US, but much, much steeper. Many of the mountains seemed to be nearly vertical as they rose above the valley floors.

My first direct impression of Italy came when I got off the train in Milan. The station was very hazy from everyone smoking and it was ridiculously crowded. I had a quick scare because of some confusion about which train I needed to switch to. I had a ticket for a 4:10 pm train, but for some reason I thought it was departing at 4:05 and I was really confused when neither of the 4:05 trains were stopping in Torino. I got that situation figured out, though, and found the correct train. This train was a French TGV and was going to arrive in Paris very late that night.

I arrived in Torino at the south train station. This station was small, pretty dingy, and overall seemed somewhat shady. My hostel was nearer to the city center and north train station so I had to catch a train to go across town. Nearly every train coming through Torino Porta Susa was late, usually by 5 - 10 minutes. It was as if nothing ever ran on time. The train to Porta Nuova finally arrived 15 minutes after it was supposed to and I got on my way to the other side of town.

I got directions to my hostel from the tourist information point in the north train station and I set out to find it. I was a little nervous about it because my hostel was on a small side street that wasn't on my map that I had. Luckily, once the streets became small there were signs directing visitors to the hostel. The hostel was situated on top of a hill, and it was a nice little hike up to their door. My first order of business after checking in was to get a shower. After 10 hours on trains and a nice jaunt up the hill I felt pretty nasty.

Later that night I met a couple of other guys staying in the same dorm as me. One was from Texas and the other from Holland. We had a good chat for a little while, and the Texan wrote down a few helpful Italian phrases for me to use. Simple stuff, like asking where the hostel is or saying "hello", but helpful nonetheless.