"Travel light," they say.
So, did I? No.
I've always been into keeping fit so I cleverly decided to pack
in a few weights for good measure should I need to work out along
my way to Italy. It was a typically fine rainy summers day that,
with my luggage safely (hopefully) stowed away, that I embarked
on holiday, by plane first, indirectly to Germany and then, I
would later find out, by train on to Italy.
I stopped in France for five
hours, in an airport. Not the best of ideas I know, but I never
was one to plan ahead, especially when my cousin was booking the
tickets. You're very limited in what you can do in an airport, in
fact unable to do anything other than browse through the 'duty
free' shops on offer. I never got the point of duty free, you'd
assume that the absence of VAT would mean cheap purchases,
wouldn't you? Well, it doesn't, not by a long shot.
Somehow it translates to "we could give you and honest price but
that's just not fun, in fact what we're going to do is add on an
extra 17.5% and put an ONLY in front of the price... Gratis" OK
that's a slight over exaggeration but I swear products are
cheaper before you go through passport control.
My stay in the airport
eventually did come to an end and I was able to board my plane
and be on my way trying to decipher what exactly it was I was
eating, and sipping a cup of tea. You hear people complain about
five star hotel food but I have never heard anyone complain about
food on a airplane, my personal conclusion is that it is out of
fear of being asked to leave through the exit outlined at the
start of the flight.
Still the flight was
short lived, without any casualties and I arrived in Munich
within two hours, sped through passport control and headed
straight for one of the bakeries on offer in any public place in
Munich. One of the most wonderful things about Germany's sub
capital is the pretzels they sell, you know when a certain memory
belongs with a certain place? It's kinda the same as
A few days later I was at the 'München Hauptbahnhof'
walking towards the designated platform with my grandfather,
preparing to see what surprises a night cabin would yield.
We arrived at the station
fifteen minutes early and our train was already waiting for us, I
remember it was several hundred metres long a huge beast of a
train but to me strangely suitable, dependable, strong, lending a
sense of security and a guarantee that you're going to arrive
with your baggage and yourself intact. Somewhat of a rarity in
this day and age.
When we got onto the train
it took us some ten minutes to walk down through the carriages
until we found the cabin designated to us. It seemed a little
cramped, but it had all you could really want, a bunk bed, toilet
and sink en suite and within two minutes of the on board
restaurant. I've always wanted to eat on board a train, it makes
you feel somehow elegant and secure. That is up to the point
where you pull out a wad of notes to pay for the so called meal
you have just eaten in one
mouthful. Something people happen to miss out or glaze
over in films is the scene where the cost comes up as more than
the train journey itself.
But, we soon settled down in
our cabin, myself taking the top bunk, my grandfather the lower.
Before we knew it a whistle blew and the train surged into
action, slowly at first but quickly picking up speed off towards
Italy. The novelty of of
sleeping in a bed whilst traveling at close to 100mph was not
wasted on me indeed I still smile at the idea of
Should you ever be
faced with the prospect of traveling through the night you could
do much worse than going by train. It's one of the few modes of
transport that is relatively comfortable and offers the rare
luxury of being able to stretch your legs should you feel
cramped, think about trying that on an airplane. The instant you
stand up the pilot would chime in "we are about to go over some
turbulence, for your own safety the fasten seat belt signs have
been turned back on"... great. But my thoughts over the wonders
of modern day transport soon passed taken over by the much more
important desire to sleep.
It was about ten in the
morning the next day when we chugged into Naples, and soon after
my grandfather and I set off to Pompeii. I loved the old town,
there's nothing like reliving history through the ancient ruins
of a town so wonderfully preserved. For a few hours of what was
left of the day I relived the life of a Roman civilian. I was
part of a 'Romanorum congregatio' and imagined the olive vendors
crying out through the streets and the smell of fresh bread from
the bakeries. All the signs of a healthy civilisation ingrained
into my head, until of course I learned of the irony that this
town had been obliterated by molten lava in 79AD and only being
rediscovered in 1592. It is now one of the most complete real
life records of Rome at the height of its power, it seemed sad to
me at the time that one of the only still standing part of Roman
civilisation was left because of a natural disaster.
I remember thinking that it
was times like this that made travelling worth while. The wealth
of memories you pick up along the way and then the holiday itself
it all adds up to become one of the best periods of your life.
So, if you ever get the opportunity to travel take up the offer
and experience life from the forefront, even if you have the most
miserable time on holiday the wealth of memories you pick up will
be spent time and time again when in conversation or reflection
weeks or even years after your holiday, as a Roman would say