At Rome’s Termini Station

Day five dawned clear and beautiful, with literally not a cloud in the sky. We woke up eager and ready to start the next leg of our journey. Next stop – Florence, via the high speed train from Rome, first class. We had a Segway tour of the city planned for 2:00 pm, and we were really looking forward to it.

The spirit may be willing, but sadly, my flesh was weak. At least my back was, anyway. Somewhere in the bowels of the Vatican, a few days earlier, I had missed a step and wrenched my back, and I was paying for it now. Each slight twist of my spine was quite painful and I was moving at a snail’s pace. I took two Aleve, and decided to approach it with a “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes” attitude – bad back or not, we were heading to Florence.

Being the old travel pros that we were by now, we hailed a taxi and made it to the Termini railway station in plenty of time. This was quite an experience for us, neither Glenn nor I ever having traveled by train before in our lives. I had done my homework before we ever left Houston, and thought that I had a pretty good handle on what to expect, but I have to admit, I was thoroughly confused as soon as we walked through the doors. It was pretty chaotic, and with all of the signs and announcements being in Italian, we felt like the proverbial pesce fuor d’acqua, aka, fish out of water. As we were standing there with our mouths hanging open, looking around, a kind looking middle-aged fellow with a fedora on approached us and took the ticket out of my hand. I was a bit alarmed at first (having been warned about gypsies at the train station), but he gestured for us to follow him, and so we did.

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Fedora Guy proceeded to guide us to the right area, and tried to explain to us in Italian that we needed to just hang out there and watch the boards for our destination and then for the corresponding platform. I was just thinking about how there are still some nice people in the world, when he held out his hand and kept it out. Glenn gave him some change for assisting us, but he left his hand hanging in the air and gestured for “more”. Yeah, I guess we’re suckers, but we gave him few Euros. If it weren’t for him we would have been wandering around aimlessly for who knows how long?

Once we were situated in the right spot I was able to relax a little bit and enjoy my surroundings and soak in the new experience. I couldn’t help but think about my old friend Harry Potter, and Platform 9 3/4…

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Eventually our train arrived, and we hustled to find our car and get our bags on board. Thinking that the train was going to take off any minute, we were struggling to do this quickly, which was harder than it sounds. You actually have to hoist the luggage up a few feet from the platform and then up on to the train. With my bad back, THIS was going to be a problem. About this time a young man approached us, and without saying a word, grabbed our bags and threw them onto the train. Again, I was impressed with the kindness of mankind…but wait, of course, he wanted a tip. Seriously though, it was worth every bit of it.

We stowed our luggage and easily found our seats. They were facing each other, and we could each look out the window. The train pulled out of the station, and we sat back to enjoy the journey. Right around this time my Aleve started to wear off, and each bump and jolt of the train caused my back to scream at me in protest. I took a couple of more Aleve and decided to ignore it. The trip was very interesting from our perspective. It only took us about an hour and a half, and since we weren’t driving we were able to look out the window and enjoy the views. I would definitely travel by train again if I had the opportunity and didn’t need a car at my destination.

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