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Long, Scenic Journey to Nice – Day 68

24 January 2010 No Comment

Wednesday 7th October 2009 – Nice

A long train journey along the Italian and French Riviera today was something to look forward to, as I have heard the scenery is quite special, but would it live up to my expectations?

So it was here. The last day of travelling by train, and possibly the longest. I was headed for my last place before home, the place where I could relax for a few days and then fly back.

I got up early enough to have enough time to be comfortable, having already been half awake due to the Spanish guy leaving the room at 4am. I’m not sure why as he left all his stuff in the room. Maybe he was off to clean his teeth again. I got up anyway, and had my breakfast before departing. I hurriedly walked the country road although I knew I had plenty of time, and wore myself out a little. There was a queue of people waiting to check out before me, and they were now all at the bus stop which I arrived at. We all half smiled at each other. The bus came and we all climbed on.

At the station I was able to board the train fairly quickly. It was waiting in the station already. I was one of the first on, but by the time we left every seat was taken, and some people were even forced to stand. It was the busiest train I had been on so far. Still, the ride was over quite quickly.

As the ticket guy came around he was stamping the tickets, and stopped with the other couple across from me. They hadn’t stamped their ticket at the station and were forced to pay a €5 penalty each. They were outraged, but paid up. Across the way, an old couple were in the same predicament, and paid the fine, at the end of the carriage the same thing happened again. By now the people were in uproar, laughing amongst each other. They were incensed at this and were laughing at the guy, saying the money was going into his pocket. I felt for the guy as he was just doing his job. Although I think the stamping of the ticket is a bit of a silly idea, it is there for a reason, and it isn’t only Italy where it happens, France is another place as well as others. The signs are about to stamp your ticket, but people don’t pay attention, and don’t bother to do a little research before they travel, this is when they get caught out.

Some American couple who had stamped their ticket, joined in with the ridiculing of the old ticket guy. I just sat quietly, thinking if I was able to find out, why cant other people. It is different if you know the rules, but choose to break them, as I did with the bus on more than one occasion, but to be completely oblivious is just ignorant I think. Then again we’ve all been there, and will always argue the case at the time I guess.

Anyway, this was a two and a half hour journey to La Spezia Centrale station. From here it was a 5 hour 15 minute journey to Ventimiglia. I boarded the train with an American couple. The signs in the station were all out of order so I checked with them that this was the right train. They thought it was. As I sat I noticed in the carriage next to mine that the American couple were now disembarking the train. I popped my head up and the lady put her head through the door, (not literally, of course), and told me another train had pulled up on the same platform. I too got off, and luckily so, as this was the one we needed, not the one we were already on. It was 5 minutes before departure time as well. So we got on the other train and set off immediately.

It would have been quite something to have had a problem on my very last journey, as all other journeys up until now have gone relatively without incident. I was lucky this time.

This trip was really nice as we travelled along the sea front, along the Italian Riviera. At least I presume it is the Italian Riviera. The beaches looked lovely, and some were packed like a normal summers day. The train was long and there were only a handful of people on it. But I knew from experience that this meant the train would soon be filling up. I took the opportunity to enjoy the silence and the beautiful views across the ocean. Soon, though, the crowds of school children and commuters descended upon us and the train was fit to burst. This was now the busiest train I had ever been on.

I had no leg room for most of the remainder of the journey. And even when the rest of the train emptied, I still had a large person sitting opposite me. I though about moving but I couldn’t get the motivation, and it might offend the large person. To my luck, though, she decided to move herself and I was free. That is, for about 10 seconds, before an elderly lady sat down in the exact seat the large girl had just left. There was the whole of the rest of the carriage to choose from, but she chose there. It didn’t matter too much as minutes later she realised her mistake and opted for a different seat. Finally I had room to move and stretch out.

The rest of the journey was pretty much uneventful, and I just sat, seeing out time. An unclean guy came in and sat right behind me. The whole carriage but he chose that seat, yet again, and he stayed for the rest of the trip. It smelt so very bad, so much so that my clothes absorbed some of the smell and I could still smell it minutes after I left the train.

The last train was already waiting, and I hopped on. This was a 2 storey train, the first I had ever been on, so I made for the top level. My last train ride this trip, and it was luxury. There were only a few people on it, but I knew what that meant. I enjoyed the ride up until Monte Carlo, where the whole world entered the train it seemed. I was forced to put my luggage in the shelf behind me, as the train was now occupied by many commuters, many quite beautiful it has to be said. This was now the busiest train I had ever been on 🙂

We still hugged the shoreline as we entered Nice. And it was this stop that most people left the train, although it was hard enough squeezing past everyone to get off with my big bag. I left the station and used my rough guide to find the hostel. I didn’t know where the info place was and it was too late to be looking for it in the dark. I trusted the book and it got me there. It was actually quite close to the station.

I checked in and found myself in a room with a total of 8 beds. It seemed like quite a good hostel. I met a couple of my room mates and they seem alright. They have free wireless throughout the building, which has been a rarity this trip. I went out for a take away, KFC, and came back to relax before bed time.

An old guy, 71, originally from Russia, but now living in San Fransisco, came in and occupied one of the beds later on in the evening. We spoke for a bit and he seems like an interesting guy. Michael is his name. But there is a strange way of spelling it.

By now my body was screaming at me for some rest, so I closed my eyes and drifted off.

Click here to view more pictures from today, and throughout my trip around France

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