I’d bet that this map, with its pretty little line and two city dots, looks like an entirely straight forward intra-European excursion. Maybe it has you thinking it’s the route I took to get to Rome from my Viennese odyssey. Maybe you’re wondering why in the world I need to show you a map when everybody has Google? Well, you’d be wrong the first two points because, although this map presents a wonderful vision of our teleportation-beam-filled futures, it is nowhere near representative of a straightforward trek, nor is it the one I took. You’ll notice it involves four countries and crosses a body of water. Talk complex! If I’m not staying in your country for at least one day, I really don’t want to see all the marvelous sites without being able to touch, smell, or hear. Hmmph!
So, Rome through Milan it was. Why not some shorter route, you ask? Well, I think it was definitely a conspiracy to ruin my travel-high because my night train fiasco was hell on wheels. No, quite literally, everyone in my couchette almost died from either the abominable heat and air deprivation! Of all the couchettes, my couchette was without working vents and was filled to maximum capacity. Well, my clean, lonely, well-ventilated Budapest-Vienna journey had spoiled me perfectly rotten and I was going to enter into the dreaded American-tourist-fuss-making mood. Then I realized there wasn’t anyone could do about that lone carriage that had sat in the sun all for a thousand years and chose to drown me in a pool of sweat and insomnia. Everyone else was making the best of the situation and stood near the windows at intervals, so I eventually just did the same.
There was a bright side to this story though. I can’t prove I was there, and I can’t exactly pinpoint where “there” was, but believe me when I tell you, my train was flying hundreds of miles above the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen! Oh yeah, I should mention that by “flying,” I meant whizzing over stretches of train track laid across bridges that criss-crossed through openings in the mountainside. And…these bridges were supported by columns. Okay, I confess, I wasn’t actually flying, but it sure felt like it. I felt like Harry Potter on his way to Hogwarts for the first time. And like some muggle-obscuring spell, I couldn’t get one steady shot as the lighting was never quite right and the train bolted along so fast, everything blurred.