Europe = Best train service…really?
Hello peeps! Apologies for not writing in ages, but I was abducted by aliens sometime ago and only recently managed to escape and return to Earth. They were so enamoured by me they made me their Queen and begged me to rule their aliendom. It was a tough decision returning to Earth when one had been bestowed such an exalted position, but I couldn’t just abandon my faithful blog readers. So in no time, I plotted an escape plan and returned to Earth. The moment I returned, I threw myself into another holiday so I could blog about it and keep you fellow readers happy. I know…I take my writing obligations very seriously.
Bubbles and I and our nutcase friends went to Siena recently. We flew to Pisa then took the train to Siena. A quick research done weeks before our travels revealed that it was pretty much ‘turn up and go’ with the train from Pisa to Siena. It involved two interchanges at Pisa Central and Empoli and the whole journey would take 2 hours. We didn’t need to buy tickets in advance. Fantastic, I thought. My kind of laid back life where you just did things without planning too much. I come from a country where you just turn up at a clinic if you are ill. No appointments necessary. Not like in the UK where you need to make an appointment with your GP and by the time you get one you are practically clinging to your dear life. (nevermind the fact that I’m just talking about the common cold and no one expects you to go to the GP for that in the UK, but Malaysian doctors prescribe antibiotics for colds like they were Tic-Tacs!)
Anyway, ‘turn up’ we did at the ticket counter and bought our tickets for Siena. We were told the next train to Pisa Central was in 10 minutes. We ran to the platform and were greeted with a colourful, graffiti-adorned train.
Whatever happened to those new, shining aerodynamic trains I had somehow associated Europe with? Well, it was only a 10-minute ride to Pisa Central so I wasn’t too fussed about it. But we waited ages for the next train to turn up. The train to Empoli wasn’t exactly new and modern either. The UK’s intercity trains look like the Concorde of trains in comparison. The Italian trains looked like they were hand-me-downs from India!
It ended up being a long, dusty journey to Empoli (yes, no air-cond!), then another changing of trains for our final journey to Siena. We were in a perpetual cycle of boarding and alighting trains on the first day of our trip!
Where are Europe’s fast trains? Is it only reserved for the big cities? It made me a bit more grateful towards our UK trains. Maybe in terms of rail fares Italy was way cheaper, but at least the train experience in UK is better. When there are no delays. And no one puking or farting near you.