Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Journey to Italy

Talk about a travel day!

Dani and I did not sleep in too late on Tuesday because we wanted time to drop in at the Comic Book Museum (if only to see the Smurfs!) It was quite interesting, but unfortunate that the majority of the comics were not English (of course.) As said though, the Smurfs made me happy and immediately take me back to childhood...what funny little guys!

So, our trip to Florence was going to be a complex one, we knew this. We had to get a train to Paris and then from there get to Florence, and we had to be able to catch a train out of Paris that night meaning we had to be in Paris early enough to catch one. According to our Eurail book it was over twelve hours by train to Florence from Paris so if we had to wait for the next morning it would most likely mess up our hostel reservations. (We are actually staying in Tuscany which is a little outside of Florence.)

We had to wait two hours for our train to Paris to arrive and set foot in Paris right after 4:30. We immediately went to a ticket office--also aware of the possibility that we would have to catch a train at a different station. Fortunately we were able to get a ticket to Florence, but it WAS from another station and now, rather than going straight to Florence, we would take a train that would arrive in Milan at 5:45 a.m. and we would then catch a train for Florence at 7 a.m. Yes, lots of craziness--I told you travel could be overwhelming!

It was around 5 p.m. and our train did not leave until 8:30 but we had to figure out how to get to the proper station, so I suppose it was a good thing that we had so much time. Well, I have to say that Dani and I have gotten quite good at figuring out the underground/metro systems in cities. I find it quite interesting how useful nonverbal communication becomes over here--especially through drawings and symbols. When we finally figured out which trams to take and where to switch over in order to come up at the Bercy train station, another friend man drew us a picture of the street to show us which way to go to find the station. Friendly people make me so happy!

Well, the Bercy station was tiny but full of people. It was going to be a 2 1/2 hour wait, which would have been incredibly boring had we not made another new friend. Sadly, we got to talking to this guy so much that suddenly when the train arrived and we stood up to board, he was gone before we even got his name! He was from China and studying in Milan, but spoke English very well. It was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had simply due to the insight we received on the perspective of someone from the other side of the world. We spoke a lot about languages. He was surprised that we would be going to Italy with no knowledge of the Italian language, but we explained that we did know some Spanish, which is similar. "Spanish??" he said with a puzzled look. "Why Spanish?" It was so strange to both Dani and I that someone would ever find this odd. Of course we would know some Spanish. Who in America today does not know some Spanish. We explained that it is the second language in America and how most people learn at least some and it has become a school requirement and is useful in attaining a lot of jobs. He still was very surprised as we also explained the large amount of latino immigration and influence. To me this stuff is such common knowledge, so it was so strange to realize that for other people it would be unusual to learn some if any Spanish every in their lifetime.

Dani and I also got a good laugh when talking about food with this man. He was carrying with him two large bags of Chinese food to take back to Milan with him, as he said he missed it a great deal. He asked us what food we missed the most and of course we told him Mexican. So then he said something about enjoying Mexican as well. "What is that chain? It's with Pizza Hut? I like that." Dani and I both began laughing. Taco Bell??, can you even really call that Mexican food? Not that I don't love my TB, (it is nowhere to be found here and that is such a tragedy late at night.) but it is most definitely nothing like authentic Mexican food and for someone to think that is quite sad! He has no idea what he is missing out on.

This led to talking of fast food and would you believe how much people over here love KFC?? In fact, the do not have much KFC in Italy, but it must be huge in China. He told us that he had actually missed his train earlier that morning to Milan because he had seen a KFC at the last minute and wanted some so bad that he rushed to get some, thinking he had time and ended up watching his train pull away without him!

There was one thing that we were able to relate to with this guy as we sat in the crowded train station. He brought up American TV shows that he enjoyed. While Prison Break and Desperate Housewives are not shows Dani nor I ever watch, the last one he asked us about made us both laugh.
"What about Friends?"
Haha...I always knew that no matter what type of situation you were in or where you were, somehow life could relate to Friends, and people would understand!


Rachmo said...

Ooooohhhhh....Dani and the chinese guy....Getting herself some asian loving, huh? I know how she is!!

Yeah, TB is not even close to being real mexican. Hey, why don't you kids ever talk to me about those things??!! ha ha

Wish I was over there with you two. Loving reading your blog!

Love ya, Rachel

Joan said...

Peat and Dani, It is so great to see your pretty faces. I can't wait until you get to Tuscany so that you cen tell me about it. Janet and Jerome have been there, and they are decorating their new kitchen in a sort of Italian style because of that trip. I have always wanted to go there and I WILL. I love Frances Mahre's (sp?) books about her reclamation of an old Tuscan villa. I have all of them if you ever want to look at them (I think I already told you this, but just want to go on record). By the way, your big sis is being an awesome help at the hospital. Love you very muc, Aunt Joannnie

Joan said...

I also love you very much.