Well, I barely slept last night. Got maybe four hours of sleep. I made sure I didn’t drink any caffeine last night because I wanted to sleep well so I could get up early for my train ride to Paris.
Instead, I tossed and turned, probably because I ate so much food at the restaurant where we dined. Sergio, Erika and I each ordered a pizza and they were wonderful. The restaurant was packed and is frequented often by Sergio. Afterward, they took me to my hotel and I spent the next hour packing, shaving organizing for this morning.
Sergio picked me up at 6:30 and we had a quick cappuccino in the hotel restaurant. It was then that I saw what I had missed the day before by oversleeping. The continental breakfast had six different types of desserts, yogurt, fruits, any coffee you wanted, juices, rolls, jams/jellies, hams, salamis and cheeses. Talk about frustrating.
Anyway, we got to the train station with time to spare. It was a beautiful new station, perhaps one year old. Immaculate. The station incorporates the local metro train for commuters along with the high-speed train that travels to Lyon and, finally, Paris. Sergio waited for the train to actually begin to move before leaving. The train was so smooth that I didn’t realize we were moving so I missed the opportunity to wave back to him as he waved at me through the window.
The trip was very nice. As I said, the train runs as smooth as glass. It took perhaps 1.5-2 hours to get through the snow-capped Alps. There were quite a few tunnels with perhaps only one or two that were a mile long. I had always thought that the trains through the Alps went through tunnels that were twenty-five miles long!
We entered France quite quickly, after only two hours. I hadn’t realized how close to France Turin is. I should have figured it out when I saw signs on the freeway in Turin for Monaco. After we got out of the Alps, farmland was spread out before us. What looked like winter wheat seemed to be planted everywhere along with, of course, vineyards. The woodlands had a healthy dose of fir trees, but nothing like the grand forests we have in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the woodlands seemed to be scrubby-type trees.
The landscape was beautiful, though. Farmland as far as the eye can see. No mountains; I’m assuming the primary mountain range is the Alps. It was interesting to see a clump of nuclear power plant smack dab in the middle of such an agricultural area. An hour later, I saw wind turbines.
There were also quite a few rural communities. I saw no real subdivisions on an American scale. We all know how things work in America—a town gets discovered and suddenly hundreds of homes and several shopping centers sprout up. Of course, there are several reasons for this, which I won’t go into. Nevertheless, I always notice settlement patterns. I have my degree in Sociology with a minor in Geography so I’ve always been interested in how people live in other areas.
I’m fighting a damn cold bug that started hitting me yesterday. Woke up with that telltale tickle in my throat. I was able to keep it at bay with penicillin, hot tea, etc. Today it’s moved into my sinuses so my nose is running more than an Olympic hopeful. I want to nip it in the bud again for tonight since I’ll be outside.
Now I’m in Paris across the street from my host’s apartment. Twit that I am, I completely forgot to tell him I was taking an earlier train. I have his phone number and have left a couple of voicemail messages. I’ve also sent a couple of text messages. I’m sitting in this pub, quaffing espresso to keep me awake, fervently hoping that there’s not been anything lost in translation, otherwise I’m gonna be looking around for an overpriced hotel room in Paris on New Year’s Eve. Don’t wanna do that!
If he gets here soon, I’m hoping my host in Paris will be able to get us to the Eiffel Tower area to ring in 2014.