Tired of late flights, luggage restrictions and eco-scare stories, I decided this weekend on my regular trip back to Rome that I would take the overnight train. An estimated journey of around 9 hours, instead of being hurtled through the air in just 45 minutes. The train arrived on time leaving at 8pm expected in Rome around 6am. With a ticket price of just 34 euros, I smiled remembering the cost of the train between London and Manchester (standard open fare last time I looked was £220). Basic to say the least, no beds, no restaurant, but I was prepared. I was in pjyamas, I had a pillow and a picnic of bread, brie, red wine and kitkats. I also had a compartment for 6 to myself as the train was almost empty. What more could a girl ask for?
When the train reached Messina, the point where it crosses to the mainland, we sat for an hour and a half with no explanation. But then the train left and went straight onto the boat, the whole thing! Up a ramp like a car ferry, but a train ferry. There were four trains on altogether, and we were allowed to get off, and stand on deck. I took my wine. A crossing of around 30 mins to the Calabrian mainland, clear and amazing views. I had some slight problems getting back on the right train, as you cannot naviagate between train carriages like you can between cars, and lets face it, trains all look more or less the same, and it took three attempts to come down the right staircase.
Reaching the other side, darkness was complete, so time for bed. The trains gentle rocking was just sending me to sleep, when suddenly the door flew open and the light came on. Opportune rapist? Drunk passenger in wrong carriage? no, the 3am ticket inspection. I kid you not.
Anyway, sleep eventually came (I was able to lie down over three seats which was a nice treat) and eventually the morning light woke me as we neared the coast just below Rome, mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Somehow I had slept through Naples.
Two and half hours late, tired but happy. Next time, I will do the journey in the daylight. But after the inhuman way the airlines treat passengers, they perhaps could rethink their luggage policies as imagine trying to board a flight with wine, picnic food (complete with little knife and corkscrew) and TWO bags. Form now on, at least in Italy where train prices are cheap, it is something I will do more in future