Once I'm on them, I love trains. Before being securely on the correct one, headed in the right direction, I hate them. The problems are that I don't like the unknown and European train stations with their foreign language speaking hordes are impossible for me to understand.
Do not be fool enough to believe the word "Simply" in these instructions. There's nothing simple nor clear about picking up your ticket at the ticket counter or printing it at the kiosk. There are hundreds of people in lines that end at one of several kiosks or counters and no way to know which line to stand in, because I, haven't learned a second language and, even if I had, the roar in my head in such a situation makes it difficult for me to even understand my native tongue. Plus, a tendency toward trying to anticipate every possible catastrophe before it hits me broadside, so prevents me from believing what I'm told. It's not easy being me!
Thank goodness, David, calm and confident, was my travel partner and he normally led the way. My self-respect was at stake, though, so I tried not to make him handle every train station. In one particular station, Milan, I think, I took the lead, went to print tickets I'd purchased online while he sat with our luggage, and by the time the task was complete the lines and confusion had overwhelmed me and I was cranky. He went off to the restroom (use of which was denied until paying an extortionist seated at a table blocking the restroom - David took a picture of her) while I waited with our stuff. I sat there knowing that I was wearing the expression known as the Alligator Look when my mother wore it. I knew it, but couldn't wipe it off my face. David was so amused that he took a picture of me as he approached. Posting especially ugly pictures of myself is against policy, so I'll only post the second and third in the series - me laughing at being caught with the Alligator Look.
He and Micah thought the pictures hysterically funny and said I looked like Grumpy Cat. I hadn't heard of Grumpy Cat before, but had to admit to the resemblance when they pulled up a picture on the laptop.
Inconvenience on a European vacation is, without question, a First World Problem. Negative reaction to inconvenience is a character flaw. I needed to get a grip, so I did.
There are no hilltop fortresses to be seen along our Amtrak route.
David made friends with a law student on the train. I think he was from the Ukraine. He looked a lot like David's childhood best friend, Matt. See....?
David and Matt - May, 2015
Matt's expression is different, so the similarity doesn't just jump out at you, but take my word for it.
David enjoying a tomato I'd brought him from my mother's favorite market in Beaulieu. Nothing better than a homegrown tomato.
Barcelona train station was the best. Clean and orderly.
Nice (city, not adjective) train station - the French build beautiful and to last.
Obviously passing through Italy.