“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 that.
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 it.
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
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