Up to Waterloo and across to St Pancras, we caught the Eurostar to Paris. But most exciting was the sleeper from Paris to Rome. Just my eldest son, Connor and I – we had a cabin to ourselves. And in old-fashioned style had our evening meal in the dining car. The waiter came round with a choice of main course – veal or beef. It wasn’t terribly good and hugely expensive but the atmosphere was great. We sat opposite a couple from Mexico City.
It didn’t look like there were any bunks in our room – you had to pull them out of the wall. But they were pretty comfortable. And the underneath the small table in the corner of our cabin was a sink. I wanted to show my youngest son the loo. You could actually see the tracks whizzing by down the hole. Crossing a railway line in France or Italy must be rather a smelly experience. And, of course there were notices to remind you not to loo when the train was in a station.
I collected the plastic film that wrapped our pillows because I thought it might be useful later. It was. I used it to wrap wet shoes when we were on the move. But along with the paper napkins, plastic water bottles, processed and packaged breakfast fare, as well as other disposables I thought the Italian trains needed an environmental audit. Clearly, it’s a lot better than flying but there was certainly ample room for improvement.
We spent the day in Rome depositing bags at the left luggage place, once we’d found it. Wondered why there’s not one at Waterloo because it’s tremendously popular and very useful. Connor and I had small back packs for our week away but they seemed to weigh a tonne after you’ve walked around for a little while. It occurred to me that I could have done with even less – but looking at other people’s luggage I wondered why we all feel we need so much. I helped one girl move her bags a few carriages on – and asked her if she was moving home. She said she’d been in Italy for several weeks studying. I think she must have also been shopping….
Another train to Naples. We had time to talk, to read, to look out of the windows. But it was fun. So much nicer than flying. No horrible airports with all their ridiculous rules telling you to put all your liquids in a bag and take your shoes off….
We’re going on another train ride next week – from Yeovil to Avignon – three boys and me. I know they’ll love the cabin and I hope we’ll be able to see the track down the loo!