Sure I could get to Rome in an hour, but what about the journey?
Last year I met a real hot babe while swimming in a bay off a Greek island.
Drying off, we got to talking, then walking along the cliff, before finding somewhere nice to sit down for a drink.
It was golden hour, the sun was going down over the sea, and all was right in the world. Then we started arguing about climate change.
I told him about my trip so far, and he thought it was DISGUSTING the amount of flying I did. He had arrived in Greece by train and boat.
But that would take six weeks from Australia! I protested.
Nonetheless, I decided that next time I was in Europe I would travel overland. So I am getting the train and bus from Berlin to Rome.
Costing 300 (plus accomodation along the way), the journey took 18 hours.
It would be too late to impress the guy but maybe, even better! it would help the planet.
Berlin to Munich
I think Im sitting in the wrong seat but I cant be sure. According to my ticket (110, double the cost of flying to Milan from Berlin) Im meant to be in something Carte 22 and this is a carte I just got on randomly.
I immediately feel ill at ease. There must be a German word for this discomfort you feel on a train when you are in the wrong seat.
In Nuremberg a man looms over me and says: Das ist mein platz, den du bist! or words to that effect and so I move to a nearby seat, and the cycle of discomfort begins again.
My new seat offers only a partial view of the scenery because the passenger in front, who has the full window, shuts the blind. To get a glimpse of the scenery, I have to look across the aisle. But those seats are occupied by a couple who are grinding each other into paste. His tongue is in her ear, her hands are down his pants. To look at the scenery, I have to look at them, or at least near them.
I resort to glances out their window (a castle, a warehouse, a light industrial area) but that is somehow worse, more furtive, than staring past them.
Munich to Verona
Next morning, the bus. What bus station is not grim? Its as if they punish us bus people for being poor, while the richer people get the nicer ceilings (often glass, often cathedral) in train stations.
Bus terminals tend to be at the back of something; hidden, unlovely, sad. A vending machine provides the only snacks. Theres no coffee. There are no ceilings.
But as we drive from Munich through the Alps into Austria it is stunning.
At the border, near a dramatic mountain range, we stop at a McDonalds.
This McDonalds is super nice. The enormous windows look out on to a meadow and the Alps, snow-capped even in summer.