Americans! More precisely: US Americans! Why dear God, why?!
That was my first thought when I was sitting in the compartment and got surprised by the three young Interrail backpackers.
You might think, Why is she so negatively surprised?
I did make some experiences in the past
Everything was so nicely planned: An EICMA visit in November. Everyone will fly, and I will travel comfortably and solo in a couchette, or sleeping car.
Basically a brilliant thought would be said by God, but did you also expect Interrail? And, like my old friend Don Camillo, I would have to agree. Apropos Don Camillo: The Eicma takes place in Milan annually and is located in the Po plain, the Italian landscape that Guareschi had chosen for his stories.
And 3 (read on) ;-):
But back to these Interrail Teenagers. Not that they’re not nice, or that they smell. But I was so excited when I left the train station and entered the empty compartment. Yeeesss…
After all, I already have the seat at the window and thus control over the power socket, but still: Americans? The young people are obviously starving, because they order the – not exactly cheap – menu straight through. Since my wild travel times a lot has changed as it seems. I’ve always been shopping in the supermarket, only to enter the tent, or the train wagon, with supplies for the night and the next day. But Daddy’s credit card makes travelling more comfortable. A couchette car compartment is not the cheapest way to spend the night.
No matter, enough bitched, we talk briefly, then I continue reading. The book: “In the net” with my favourite cook/detective/editor Mira Valensky, by Eva Rossmann. I love the earthy, Austrian way of writing in the book series. The characters are lovingly worked out, the en passant submerged recipes are an inspiration, and the cases are always tricky.
Somehow I like criminal stories, spiced with food, it seems I have something in common with my dear Svenja. I soon faded out the Teens and read for the next hours until it’s time to fold down the beds and go to sleep. Still brushing my teeth quickly and evening toilet, and up into the sky (I’ve wisely reserved the uppermost bed for myself, getting out in a full compartment is annoying and the suitcase compartment, above the door, is pleasantly within reach.
But it seems that the three of them are just getting started: Skype calls with the states are being made. Worried parents are reassured to see their children helplessly at the mercy of the hordes of terrorists and criminals in good old Europe because of the rigid weapons laws.
There are lively discussions about the new priest (Chaplan) in the community. Really? In between, a radio commercial for a company is recorded for Thanks Giving.
Meanwhile I know the text by heart, because the speaker always gets muddled with the word “perseverance” and repeats the text about 50 times, until it is recorded in her smartphone and starts electronic the journey to the US. And then they say prayers together! It is 11:30pm and they want to get off in Padova (planned arrival 5:00am), and have breakfast before? Hello? I just turn off the central light from above. A while murmuring and smartphone flickering goes further on and then it really gets quiet, or I fall asleep?.
That ends this short day and the next one starts at 4:40, when I get woken up by the knocking of the crew at the door to get rid of the wake-up call and the three breakfast tablets. Unfortunately, down under is dead silence, so after a while I open the door from above and let the crew meber in. Now she stands in the corridor and says in a muffled voice: “Padova? But even repeating it several times does not trigger any reaction. I point out to her that the breakfast belongs to the three lower beds and turn myself back into the ceiling. Shortly afterwards, down under really comes to life in the compartment, backpacks are packed and transported to the corridor. As the train stops in between, panic breaks out and one of the coffee cups flies through the compartment and distributes its full contents over the benches and floor.
With a paper napkin they briefly tried to minimize the damage, but then jump up quickly and with a nice good bye they aim at the exit of the wagon.
Yes, go with God, but go! I hope you’ll catch up on your morning prayers at the platform and visit a priest to have at least 100 Hail Marys given to you at confession. 😉
I climb out of bed, get dressed and start to clean the floor and the benches as much as possible of the coffee with paper towels from the train toilet. The last thing I need now is the smell of cold coffee in the morning, or a cleaning crew sweeping through the compartment. After the worst has been cleaned up, I climb back to sleep. Sidenote: the train is still in the station since 30min (Splitting of the train to Rome and to Milan).
I have to get out of bed at 7:45, the train arrives in Milan at 9:12, so no morning stress, because I hate that.
Punctually at 7:40 I am awake, collect the 3 breakfasts together and prepare a small breakfast menu feeling in the compartment. The 3 obviously didn’t even try to pack anything, so everything stays with me. I know a mouse that would certainly not have been too angry about it. It’s too much for me, tea is just coming. So I pack a part for the day and the rest I enjoy greatly. Today I will surely need nothing to eat until in the evening. The train goes past Lake Garda and one station on the way is Brescia, a place just 80km northerly from the Don Camillo town of Brescello.
Moderately rested, but fully saturated, I arrive almost on time in Milano and start my search for the metro. I found it, bought a day ticket and took the M2 and M1 to the fair. At the exit point, a crowd of inspectors is already waiting for us, well aware that the core zone of Milan has come to an end two stations before and that an extra ticket would have been necessary for the last station. The fine of 36,- € due for this will certainly ensure the redevelopment of the Milan Transport Services (ATM) on trade fair days only. I recognize the situation very quickly and choose the inspector with caution and, I am lucky in misfortune, I get away with a friendly warning. 😉 Milan, 09:45, the hairstyle sits…. With the knowledge that many years of wandering around in the Viennese public transport were not in vain, and a broad grin on my face, I continue to the exit. Where the grin freezes immediately, because in front of me there is a queue of surely a thousand visitors, who are prevented from making progress by 5 – age-weak – luggage control apparatus and X-ray controls. Austria you happy country, where a fair is not a potential assassination area (probably not here either, but what could be done for the good mood of the visitors?) MINUTES later I stand behind such a lock and discuss with the operator of such a device whether I have a Swiss knife in my luggage or not. He expects me to hand this over, and I really have no idea where that could be in my backpack, if there is one at all? (I didn’t find it at home either, so either a false alarm, or the false backpack – since they roll through the scanner almost simultaneously, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all).
For unpacking the overfilled rucksack there is an area of approx. 30x30cm available, I start to spread my dirty underwear and female toilet items, because this always helps in southern countries. As expected, the operator hurry to wave me away……..
Finally, I think to myself, finally the fair! Yeeessss! 🙂
But shite, the access from the metro side is definitely the wrong one. The relevant part of the exhibition is at the other end of the huge exhibition area and so I march in dawdling groups another 400-500m further until I finally, finally! get to the reception, which guards Hall 22 and 24. I pick up my free admission ticket, deposit my superfluous clothes and luggage (incl. virtual pocket knife) at the cloakroom and enter the huge halls dressed in a WRWR T-shirt and armed with a selfistick, smartphones, powerpacks, cables and stickers.
Now the game commences, because that is why I am here: WRWR (Women Riders World Relay) and to interest the italian Moto Amica’s for the event taking place in 2019. I also have stickers and a WRWR Protoyp T-Shirt with me, if one of the italian FB members. Therefore I regularly post photos and texts about my coordinates in the FB event discussion. Catch me, if you can…
That’s pretty exhausting. To find striking points, to post them on FB, to draw close circles around them for a while, to post a new point foresightedly and to repeat the game there and distribute stickers in between.
In between I briefly meet Elsbeth, our WIMA friend from Switzerland, who used her participation in the olive harvest in Tuscany to give me some encouragement today. We take some photos together, and, although she is the first one to find me, for reasons of fairness (she had insider knowledge! ) no T-shirt will be given out and we forget about the stickers because of all the stupid stuff, of course…
It is then almost 13:00, when I can finally have a winner! The T-shirt is rewarded to Emily, who is the lucky winner, she caught me at the Beta booth, we’re both happy. Me, because I don’t have to carry it around anymore, she, because it fits well and the visit of the Eicma is twice as great! We do a photo shoot together, then we separate our ways. 🙂
Since I had a good breakfast, I only need a small lunch and a short stop at the toilet, then I continue through the halls and I continue to distribute stickers to Italians, to test the motorcycles and to post my location. Finally, arrived at the KTM booth, the Adventure is besieged from all sides. I’m also lining up, but somehow it might be unimaginable for the male Italian Amici that I really want to ride this bike as well. I am passed over from left, right and opposite several times, so I take the initiative, beat a macho and show with a courageous kick on the footrest that climbing on such a high bike, in contrast to what I saw before, can also look elegant. I toil myself sitting and standing!! (none of them did it!) on the machine before I leave it again just as elegantly. Well, gentlemen once you’ve learned something it isn’t forgotten. See you at Erzberg! Gngngn…
Due to the long wait for the seat/stand I had enough time to have a good look at the machine. A lot of plastic, which isn’t immediately a minus on fairing parts (especially on an Adventure machine, which is actually ridden that way), but what about the plastic tank reaching almost to the ground, which protrudes to the left and right of the skid plate, like a bump from the side of the motorcycle? Low center of gravity, so, so… but how can the tank really survive rough terrain or falls, not to mention to be repaired in the steppes? And, if I want lateral dents on the motorcycle, I buy something else. I have to hope for a 390 Adventure or buy something completely different. The competition doesn’t sleep either, starting with SWM, there were a lot of other motorcycles that also have the Adventure character, but this one is an Austrian bike …
So the search will go on.
And of course my round, and the scavenger hunt, continues through the exhibition halls from stand to stand and also very briefly at the outdoor area. At about 17:00 I finally post my last location, then I leave the fair and, walk back to the M1. I buy an outer zone ticket (1,60) and drive back to the center (Duomo). There I take a look at the beautifully lit cathedral and stroll through the old town towards Milano Centrale.
On the way I get hungry again and since I still have bread rolls from the morning, I buy a few gramms prosciutto crudo in a supermarket on the way, very delicately cut, as it should be.
As soon as I’m out of the supermarket Junior rings me up with tips for a Pizzeria Ristorante near the central station, where he ate wonderful pizzas with his class.
So, now I have to decide? Roll and prosciutto, or pizza? I solve it somewhat elegantly when I meet two Barbones I leave them my mangiare, and make them and me happy with it, because the pizza is really fantastic!
I arrive at the station in time to get on the wagon comfortably and visit my compartment before the return journey begins.
This time the tactic works out. I am and I stay alone in the sleeping car compartment. The day was exhausting and long. So I fall asleep relatively fast and wake up again with the wake-up call at 7:30 am. Until 9:00 the journey still lasts. So I can admire the old Semmering route and the Rax in the most beautiful sunlight before the train enters the classic fog wall in front of the Wr. Neustädter bassin and does not leave it until Vienna.
Conclusion: If Eicma again, certainly not with sticker, but gladly only with train (up to the fairground).