Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dove La Estazione? Part Deux

Well, part 1 of this story was a big hit, so I sat down and hammered out part 2.  I guess the humor did translate after all.
I will pick up the story where we left off last time.  We had just made it to Avignon.  After staying a couple of days in that beautiful city we packed up the car and pulled out of the parking garage that we finally found the day after we arrived. The parking garage backs up to the hotel.  It took us an hour to find it.  There is a door from the garage into the back of the hotel lobby, but the drive is 3 kilometers.  Fucking France.  
The next step of the journey was to drop off the car at the train station in Nice and then make our way to Monterrosso on the Mediterranean coast of Italy.  Italy has insanely strict driving laws (not that you would notice given the way Italians drive) and we were told by our travel agent NOT TO DRIVE INTO ITALY!  We were going to drop off the car and take trains for the remainder of the journey.  That was the plan.  Ah, plans.  I now know that plans are for fools.  And I'm a fool.
The drive from Avignon to "Nice" was fairly uneventful.  We just took in the beauty of the French countryside and soaked up some of the last freedom of having our own car.  I will explain in a minute why "Nice" is in quotation marks.  We got to "Nice" and could not find the train station to save our lives.  Don't get me wrong, we had maps, we had good sense, we just couldn't find it.  We found a train station, but there was no car rental drop off.  Also, it was a very tiny train station, like something a train stops at for a few minutes to pick up and drop off commuters.  So, repeating my performance in Avignon, I jumped out of the car and asked a police officer directing traffic if he could point me in the direction of the train station.  I mean, he was already directing, why not.  I showed him my map and where we wanted to go and he looked at me like I was insane.  He didn't speak English, and as we have already established, I don't speak French.  So he said "Nice, no no" and wagged his white gloved finger at me.  What the fuck to you mean "Nice, no no"?  This isn't Nice? Then where in god's name are we?  That is where the communication completely broke down.  We had already missed our train and could not find the god damned car rental drop off to save our lives.  We called the travel agent (who was 9 hours behind us) and got no further information, being the middle of the night in California and all.  We called the car rental offices.  No luck.  But I guess we can't blame them, they were giving us directions in Nice and we were in "Nice".  There were some tears and some ugly words said before we decided with some help from someone at the travel agent's office that it would be okay for us to drive to Genoa, Italy and drop the car off at the train station there.  That's faith, isn't it?  Can't find a train station? Well I guess we will drive into another country and look for another train station.  That's sane.  After getting past the whole "If you drive into Italy without permission they will fine you a million Euro, take your firstborn, and spit on you" thing, we went for it.  We got back on the AutoRoute and headed around the coast to Genoa.  We passed Monaco, something we would not have been able to see in the train, and began to chill out.  We were back on the road and had a plan.  A Plan. Hah!  So we drive into Italy with French licence plates (and we all know how much the Italians love the French) and find our way easily into Genoa.  My Italian is better than my French so I quickly pick up some handy phrases from one of Rick Steves' books before I threw it out the window of the car.  (Listen Rick, I'm not packing a backpack for a 2 week trip and you can't make me.) Some of the handy phrases were "Atraversiamo" which means roughly "let's cross the street now and play a real life game of Frogger".  But the phrase I used most was "Dove la estazione?" which means, "Where is the train station?".  I got really good at asking this. Really. Good. Like when we circled the area for the fifteen or sixteen thousandth time the locals were saying things like "Oh there goes the American girl obsessed with train stations. Bless her heart".
Anyway, we got into Genoa and could see trains and train tracks everywhere.  We had smug smiles on our faces and thought "we are so awesome".  But could we find the train station that all of these trains and tracks were leading to? Yes. 
Did you really belive that? Sucker.  No, we didn't find the train station.  Not even after we rolled our windows down and asked a random Italian guy on a Vespa (yum) "Dove la estazione?"  He hung up his phone (Italians with their talking and motorbiking and drinking and Ciao-ing), and actually had us follow him to the station.  Then suddenly he veered off, went one way and pointed the other.  Now I ask you, how is that helpful?  After several hours getting to know the area surrounding the elusive train station really well (Hi Giovanni! Thanks for the use of your bathroom!  I kid.) we decided to just head onto Monterrosso.  Hell, we were already in Italy, why the fuck not.  What did we have to lose? 
And you want to know something? Getting to Monterrosso, one of five tiny towns over the mountains along the Mediterranean, together known as Cinqueterre, was the easiest part of the journey.  Can we find a train station when we are 2 miles from it? No? Can we traverse a coastal mountain range with donkeys and goats on the road and make it it less time than the book says? Yep.  Take that Rick Steves.  We breezed into Monerrosso like we were the Queens of Italian Driving.  We got checked into our hotel, a tiny little bed and breakfast with a balcony overlooking the ocean, and had focaccia and wine.  It was delightful. 
Until the vomiting started...

1 comments to blog for:

Florida Remodel Gal said...

Still laughing. Can't wait until Part 3. You should really write a book about this! From Blog to book - it's been done. I'm just sayin.....