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  • Day321

    Day 322: Back to Italy

    January 2, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    New year, new travels! Time to get back on the road, and that meant leaving Germany for the first time since early November. It's been an interesting place, and I've definitely enjoyed it.

    But first - an early start! On the subway at 9am, and on the proper long distance train by 9:30am. We'd booked first-class tickets since they weren't much more expensive, but with the issue that we weren't able to sit together, and would be in separate compartments. But my compartment was basically empty aside from an older German lady and a couple of other guys, so Shandos moved in with no problems.

    The guys all got off the train at the first stop outside Munich - apparently it's the stop where ticket inspectors all get on, so they all leave? I dunno. We chatted to the German lady for a bit as well, since she spoke reasonable English and was very interested in Schnitzel.

    Although the train was supposed to be direct between Munich and Bologna, a goods train derailment the previous week meant that we had to switch to rail replacement buses between Innsbruck in Austria and then the first stop in Italy near Bolzano. It was a bit frustrating, but there was quite a big fleet of coaches waiting, and aside from the annoyance it actually only caused about a 30 minute delay.

    Back on the train we settled back in, watching the mountains of the alps go past and the piles of snow lying around after the recent falls. At Verona a family of four joined the compartment, saying that they'd booked the four seats together (which is probably why we couldn't book our seats together). Shandos volunteered to move, but then in the seat she had reserved in the other compartment was now occupied, and the man in it showed no interest in moving! And the conductor was similarly disterested - "it's just my job to check tickets". Thankfully there was one seat left in first class, so Shandos sat down there with Schnitzel for the next couple of hours.

    We'd bought some lunch supplies in Germany that had long since been consumed, so I went to the dining car to buy some food and drinks, only to discover that they had nothing. Literally nothing, except beers. Apparently because of the derailment, this Austrian train was stuck in Italy and due to contracts they weren't allowed to resupply in Italy, it had to be done in Austria. So they were just going around with nothing on board. Go figure!

    Finally our last stop at around 3:30pm, where a different compartment all departed, so Shandos and I moved our stuff into there and remained put for the rest of the trip. Watched the setting sun over the plains of northern Italy, glad to be back in this country and looking forward to exploring more of it. We both expect it'll try our patience a lot more though!

    Finally arrived in Bologna around 5pm, where we walked the 10 minutes to our apartment. A large studio and seems nice enough. Neighbourhood looks semi-OK, though so many parts of Italy are grimy and decrepit it's difficult to tell the dodgy places from the good ones.

    Walked a few blocks to a student eat street (Bologna is home to the world's oldest university), where after a few choices we ended up at a decent looking place. We both had the most famous local dish, of course. Though it's not spaghetti bolognese, which is a Western take on it! The original is tagliatelle al ragu, so thicker and heavier noodles with a ragu sauce. More meat, more oil, less tomato. Quite different, but very tasty.

    Back home and off to sleep, looking forward to our day trips to come!
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    Trish Forrester

    That bus replacement looks quite a distance!