Trains, My Sad Self, and the Worst of Italy


Since I am putting most of my energy into writing the next post, I will try and condense this tale into a nutshell. However, it will have to be quite a big nutshell.
I met Blaine in the train station in London, and then as he finished up his class, I went to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Both free, both incredible. After wandering around downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, I met Blaine and we hung out until three in the morning.
We woke up at four to catch our bus to the airport.
The flight was fine and we landed in Brindisi, only to be greeted by salty Mediterranean air and muggy heat. As we tried to find a bus to the train station, there was some confusion and serious language barrier issues, and, well, we took a bus to a town a half hour away from Brindisi. We didn’t realize our error until we got to the Lecce train station and realized that it was very different from the Brindisi station. What’s more, is that when we got off the bus in Lecce, we realized that we had no idea where any kind of train station was and would have to take a taxi (10 euro) to the unbeknownst-to-us incorrect station.
Our solution was to take a train from the Lecce train station back into Brindisi. Sad circumstance. But, being perfectly compatible travel partners, Blaine and I just laughed at ourselves and kept repeating how great it was to see this side of Italy. (Have you been to Brindisi or Lecce? Didn’t think so.)
So there we are at the Brindisi train station and I try to buy a ticket for the same train that Blaine has booked through Eurail. I am told that this is not possible and that my only option is to take a different train. Being my only option, I accept, and Blaine and I seperate with plans of meeting back up in Foggia. (Oh no, I hear you say… oh no indeed!)
We both had layovers in Barri. Blaine’s arrived first, and left before I got there. I step of my train, call Blaine, and tell him I am here in Barri and that I will see him in Foggia. Checking my new departure I see that my next train leaves in twenty minutes from platform three. So I sit at platform three and wait.
I feel like it is at moments like these when God is watching me with an endearing smile. The same kind of smile that overcomes you when you see something like a blind puppy run into a wall, or pee on itself.
You see, my train was already leaving as I sat at platform three. And when I boarded “my train” and asked the conductor if it was bound to Foggia, I was told that it had just come from Foggia, and would not be going anywhere else today.
Feeling hot in the face and sick to my stomach, I ran to see when the next train to Foggia was leaving. It was in this moment that I realized my error in confusing the Departures screen from the Arrivals screen. Gag. The next DEPARTING train to Foggia was in two hours. Blaine was practically already there. I wanted to throw up.
I called Blaine and explained to him that my dyslexia permeates into my Italian reading as well. Chipper chap that he is, he said not to worry and that he’d be waiting. Lucky you! You get to travel with perma-scramble-brain space cadet extraordinaire! Trip of a lifetime. One time only. See box for details.
So what do I do? I walk to the beach and go for a swim in the Mediterranean. Why the hell not. Better see Barri while I’m here! (When life gives you lemons, especially really big Italian lemons, you sqeeze ’em.)
I make it back, catch my train, and meet Blaine in Foggia. Our next mode of transportation was a bus. And we rode that bus aaaaaaalll the way across Italy into Naples. (For some good family fun, look at a map of Italy and follow our track! You tell me if it looks like a well planned trip.) Our bus drops us into the city center of Napoli, next to the train station, in Piazza Girabaldi.When we get off the bus, we are greeted with a blow in the gut of darkness, gloom, and uneasiness. 
There is trash everywhere. Dimly lit streets all with awful yellow tinting. People everywhere, shouting, playing soccer, or wearing stilettos and trying to get work for the night. We navigated as quickly as we could to our hostel. Thankfully it was close. Just across the piazza, down a dark street, past a hooker, and next to a pile of trash.
Once again, I must note that Blaine and I are the best travel companions ever. A sense of humor is invaluable while wandering through Gomorrah. When we stepped inside the door of our hostel, there was a big mirror, so Blaine did a pirouette. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Our hostel was a couple flights up and very- ok, relatively- safe.
We did brave the piazza one more time for some dinner after we locked our bags up in the hostel. If nothing else, these pizzas made the sketch center of Italy all worth it. We had two magherita pizzas with a bottle of prosecco. The prosecco: perfect, the pizzas: flavor like none other, beyond pizza status, soupy, and glorious.
We woke up the next morning and booked it to the train station.
We were off to Amalfi.

4 thoughts on “Trains, My Sad Self, and the Worst of Italy

  1. rita says:

    I like Blaines’s hat. And I am sooo glad that he is your travel companion for this last leg of your trip! As for your surprise mishaps and unexpected adventures with a delicious pizza waiting for you at the end, go figure. What a story you had to tell!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Disclaimer: I believe you were “advised” to have lunch in Naples and MOVE ON. Geezo-peets! That’s one rough day, but I really do like the theme: What the hell. What the hell? Might as well. That’s sometimes what travel and learning is all about. Glad you got a swim in, glad you got to see Lecce (N and T spent some weeks there before being chased to Turkey by Italian police). Glad you got a pizza in Naples, and glad you left it, trash heaps, stilettos, and all!

  3. Megan says:

    Hahahaaaa! I look forward to your posts. They are like envisioning episodes of Seinfeld, but in a foreign country and better because you are Kraemer. You also appear to be traveling with a couple of divine body guards.

    Also, the picture of Blaine is very college. Tie dyed shirt, colorful beanie, white table linens, chilled prosecco mmmm…the good life 🙂

  4. Em says:

    Whoa. Dude. Those stinkin arrival and departure flip boards. We KNEW those who getcha one day! Ah well. At least you got it over with and with minimal inconvenience. They are impossible but you made it to your final destination and Blaine is awesome. I love Blaine’s pirouette! Can’t wait to hear about Amalfi. And yeah, the pizza is about the only good thing in Naples, as far as I’ve seen. So glad you are safe and now hopefully enjoying the sun! You don’t miss the England rain? 😉 How did you like the limoncello?

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