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Oktoberfest Madness

Milan to Munich – The Train Ride From Hell

It all started on Thursday night with the train trip from Milan to Munich. I caught the train to Verona from Milan at 8:00pm and arrived at 9:30pm. That way I could hang out with Lisa and we could have a nice dinner together. We dropped off our bags at the station and went into the city centre to find a restaurant.

Verona would have to have one of the prettiest city centres in all of Italy. We dined on mozzarella and tomatoes, chicken and roast potatoes, tiramisu and local wines. We did this in the shadow of the amazing Roman Arena and amongst pedestrian only cobble lined streets and gorgeous pastel coloured apartments. With the presence of live Italian music wafting around the al fresco dining areas it really was the quintessential Italian dining experience you see and hear about.

After going for a walk we made our way back to the station to await the overnight train to Munich. This was due to arrive from Florence at 12.45am. It finally arrived and we made our way to the couchette carriage where we were to spend the night.

We got to our carriage to find the four bottom beds already occupied. This was a pain because not only did it mean having to put away our luggage in the dark but then to climb up the ladder onto the top bunk whilst the train was moving.

Well I knew I was capable being the seasoned traveller and all, but I was a bit worried about Lisa. She managed to lean over onto the ladder but instead of pulling herself up, she unhooked the ladder from its hinge and nearly took the ladder, along with herself crashing to the floor and through the glass door. She managed to balance herself on the floor of the train whilst still holding the now unhinged ladder at the last minute but not before I got a case of the giggles. This in turn started Lisa going who happens to have a laugh like that dog from the cartoon Speed Racer which is so infectious that it makes people laugh even more. Now its always difficult to suppress yourself when you know you are supposed to be quite and those of you that know me, know how loud my laugh is. So within seconds I had the whole cabin awake and giggling at Lisa’s misfortune.

Upon reaching our confined quarters for the evening we then embarked on getting our bedding organised. As I lay on my cramped couchette with no more than 90cm of room from the bed to the roof, a sudden feeling of claustrophobia engulfed me. The desire to get down was overwhelming but the realisation that I had paid 15 euro for this so-called bed reservation and there was no where else to go was the unpleasant reality.

The train continued its slow climb towards the Alps, through the Sud Tirol and its winding and the slow laborious track. I continued to gaze at the ceiling willing myself to a sleep that was cleverly eluding me. Then the cold started to seep in. One of those bitter chills that enters the bones and only a hot shower and drink can shake. The fact that our bunks had been short cheated with blankets meant that I had a blanket but Lisa only had two sheets.

The air conditioning sent a constant stream of frigid air straight over my body, that I knew was going to propel my cold to influenza status. The rocking motion escalated to a continual wave of rolls from side to side as we climbed further up the Alps. The miniscule barrier being of no match for my body if I went crashing through it to the three metre drop that awaited me.

After 90 minutes of what felt like being buried alive in a coffin I leant over to see if Lisa was awake. Once ascertaining her consciousness I told her in no uncertain terms of my predicament and need for escape. She agreed and we then got to wake up the cabin again as we tried to make our way down the ladder. This time Lisa did herself proud by making the trip without any problems. It was just exiting the cabin that we became entangled in the curtains that seemed to be held together by industrial strength Velcro fasteners.

We made our way out of the cabin to be confronted by a number of shady characters who had made themselves home in the corridor of the couchette cabin. These guys were taking up our valuable sleeping space in the corridor and we made our way past them into the door way of the carriage to sit and contemplate our next move. In the end we stayed where we were next to the toilet door and spent the night reading, dozing, talking and going to the toilet to try and pass the time. It was one hell of a train ride that finally ended at 6:30am the next morning with our arrival at Munich train station.


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