The 9:58 to Nice
The 14:36 to Ventimiglia
The 15:57 to Genoa
Jackpot! The car I chose for my two and-a half-hour ride to Nice is packed with Indian families and their squally children. They appeared to all be related and committed to catching up on every minute aspect of their lives since birth. The squally kids were left to fend for themselves.
This happy coincidence was made possible by the lack of a first class car on the train (my congressman shall hear of this!). No matter though, I had a blog to write. I had also been fortunate enough to choose the sun side of the train, but the layer of dust on the window was sufficiently thick to provide a natural sunshade. I got to work.
The day had begun with the unexpected discovery I was down to my last pair of clean skivvies. The miscalculation had no doubt been driven by the number of showers I had taken in private bathrooms in anticipation of what hygienic crises might be awaiting me in upcoming shared ones. There would be a critical wash day required upon my arrival in Genoa.
It was a beautiful trip along the French Riviera, the deep blues and greens of the sea and coastline muted through the sepia-filtered window. Boarding my train in Nice to cross into Italy, I was immediately questioned by a passenger as to whether I knew this was a second class compartment. I am well aware of the declasse accommodations, my good man. I have a first class ticket. Do you know where my car is?
It was upon detraining in Ventimiglia that I understood what the gentleman’s sniffy question was about. I'd gotten into the car reserved for residents of Monaco, as it was so designated on the outside of the carriage. Ha, Mr. Snooty Pants. I just took you slumming today. But I did wonder (for about a second) why the hoity-toities were content to ride in a car marked second class. (It was also interesting to note that the train traversed the length of the principality, the Beautiful People disembarking at what amounted to a well-appointed underground metro station. No sullying of princely vision with the boorish passing of the hoi-poloi!
I learned something about Italian politeness and social grace on my last leg into Genoa. A plain, but not unattractive female of indeterminate age took a seat in the four-year configuration across from me. When she later collected her things to get off one stop before me, she turned, smiled and said arrivederci. I was somewhat taken aback. Who says goodbye to a total stranger just for sitting across from them? Turns out most Italians do. It happened on another train ride through Italy and even on a public bus. So much for The Girl on a Train, though.
But it was just one example of the several “random acts of harmony” I was to encounter throughout my stay in this wonderful country.
But Monday, my first planned day of actual nitty gritty sightseeing would prove to be the hardest day of my trip so far, for the reason I will make clear next time.