Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Another backdated post thanks to craptacular internet access...

Train delays suck.

They suck even more when you're really looking forward to seeing your cousin (and hopefully some of that elusive Italian sunshine) on the other end.

They really suck when you're dehydrated, have a nasty headache, and a body that feels as though it's just been put through a meat grinder.

No, I'm not hung over. I'm jotting down my thoughts in a train compartment with my traveling troupe, who got to the station well before I did. I, on the other hand, had to sprint across the north of Milan with my bags in tow. Without my morning espresso.

Here's how it worked out. We all got up nice and early. Showered, brushed our teeth, packed. I was so efficient, that I got all of my shopping packed into one bag - the really pretty paper Bialetti bag that the espresso maker came in - and then into a plastic bag - the big one that the hunk of luxurious Peck cheese came in - just in case the crazy rain followed us to the station.

We went to the nearest metro station, waited a little bit for the train, switched lines at the next station, then rode it out a few stops to Milano Centrale train station. So far so good, right?

Well, do you remember that trip-ruining feeling of dread I mentioned in my last entry? As we got off the metro at Centrale, it hit me. My expertly packed shopping bag was no longer in my hands. I mentally retraced - the last time it was out of my hands was back at the station by our hotel, when I put it down on the bench next to my aunt.

I looked at my watch. There was enough time for me to head back to the Lima station and - if it's still there - retrieve my shopping bag. I told the ladies to find the platform, and that I'd be back before they know it, hopefully with a fancy coffee maker and fancier cheese in hand. Hopefully.

I hopped back on the Metro and got off at the station to switch lines. Coming out, the station looked nothing like it had just minutes ago. There were construction barricades and caution tape all around. Disoriented, I went back down to the platform, made sure I came up the right exit, and looked again. Same barricades and tape. At that time, an old couple was trying to get to the same platform as I, and I had enough Italian down to figure out what he said: The station is now closed in this direction for scheduled construction, and in order to go south, one must go north one stop, switch directions, and go back south.

When time is of the essence, there's one thing you can absolutely count on: Italian transit's utter indifference to the clock.

I went through the motions, knowing that the ten minutes lost meant the difference between a future full of saffron cheese and crema-topped espressos after dinner and one filled with heartbreaking loss. I finally arrived at Lima station, went to the bench where I'm certain the bag was last, and had to settle for the latter.

The station chief was very nice and actually reviewed his security screens to see if he could find someone picking it up and throwing it away, but no luck. No chance - in a place where just about every vending machine, ATM, and ticket machine reminds you to "beware of pickpockets," there's no way my very conspicuous goodie bag would have been left alone.

But I had no time to feel sorry for myself. I had a train to catch in 20 minutes, with the station a 10 minute dash away. Or an 18 minute limp after leg cramps start forming at the 6 minute mark.

Now, with the train stuck between stations and operating on Italian time, I have plenty of time to feel sorry for myself.


  1. Oh man, what a bummer!! So sorry about that. I know EXACTLY how that feels. No really, exactly... and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. :(

  2. Yeah, it blows... but at least it wasn't something vital like my passport. (Or my wallet, as was lifted in Prague!)