Date of Travel: 1/27/19
When we went to Madrid, Spain two notable things happened. We got through passport control and we bought cell phone service. Just to get on the plane in the U.S.A. we had to show our passports like 4 times and then we went through a very efficient immigration check (much faster than in the United States). After passport control I bought a sort of expensive cell phone plan, but I was told it was good for all of Europe.
When we went from Spain to Italy there was no security. It was kind of strange. We flew on EasyJet and we had our tickets in our hand but the only time anyone actually looked at our IDs was when we actually boarded the plane. We were on our way to Rome but we flew into Milan because it was so cheap. We flew on Easyjet and the tickets were $8 dollars. It cost me $5 for seat reservations, which was almost the same as the base fair. I couldn’t exactly figure it out, I mean Italy and Spain are not crazy far away from each other, but it is still pretty far (didn’t want to walk it), how it only cost us $12 is beyond me. There was a catch and that is that we had to arrive in Milan, which isn’t a big deal because there is a train to anywhere in Italy. They also didn’t give us anything on the plane, it was like a two hour flight, but we had snacks, so we were good.
As soon as we touched down in Milan I knew it was going to be interesting. That “all Europe” cell phone plan that I bought in Spain immediately stopped working. You would think buying a new cell phone plane would be no problem in an airport. Nope, it was evening when we got in and the airport and there was no one there. There might have been security there, but once we got off the plane I didn’t see anyone until we were outside again. Luckily there was wifi in the Milan airport, so we went back in and I used my whatsapp and broken Italian skills to get the hotel shuttle to pick us up.
Our plan was to stay a night in the hotel and the next morning go on the train to Rome. The hotel was nice but what we failed to notice in our planing is how far away the Milan airport was from Milan. The next day when we found out that we were supposed to reserve space on the shuttle to get to the train station, so we had to take a taxi. The taxi driver didn’t take us back to the airport, he took us to the town train station (because every town in Italy has a train station). It was then I learned we were in the town of Malpensa, which is kind of far up north, so far north that when I saw the sign saying what I believe said “This way to Switzerland” I thought I was being kidnapped by Toblerone (I should have just rolled with that).
Taking the local train in the middle of a country you know very little about is very interesting. I had a train ticket for the big speed train in Milan, but not for any local train. Luckily, I found out that almost all the ticket machines in Italy have this feature that you can turn on and it will be in English. All you have to do is look for a UK flag. For all I know I just told Italy I was swearing my allegiance to the Queen of England but I figure if it gets me the tickets I need I am OK, and besides I like corgis, so it is all good. So we get our tickets (which were pretty cheap) I we start wondering around until we get to our platform. I had no idea which train we were going to be on. Turns out it was an old one and it was really packed with commuters. Every station we got pushed farther back into the car. There were also some Catholic nuns on the train and it was very obvious they were nuns because they were wearing their traditional habits. They were being really nice to AJ but I had to tell him to be careful not to touch them because AJ is a kid and always has grubby hands and nun’s outfits have a lot of white on them, so I was worried. Also on the train we met this photographer named Matt, he had a lot of cool stories to tell if you get a chance you should check out his work at (https://www.matteoplacucci.com/).The train looked to me like a throwback from World War II, the only exception was that it had plastic everything, but the bumpiness was still preserved. It traveled at a decent speed but it made a lot of stops on the way to Milan.
Milan is a major trade destination. In the USA they are known for fashion but the fact is most business in Italy is conducted in Milan. Getting into the station we saw a lot, of what looked to me as, high class business men and women. Everyone moved really fast, spoke really fast, but we made it to our platform on time so it was cool.
The high speed Frecciarossa train was very speedy. It goes from Milan to Rome in three hours and 10 minutes. Unlike the local train it goes pretty smooth. The seats are assigned were very nice. They were in clusters of four chairs which were cushy, they had lots of leg room, tables, trash, and even wifi. While we were on the train they gave us some juice and some cookies. That was pretty much the norm for all the high speed trains. We might have been able to fly to Rome faster but it was fun watching the countryside pass by on the journey.
Eventually we got to Roma Termini station in Rome. When we got there I was finally able to buy another cell phone service for Italy. Most places in Italy do have wifi but it was nice to have cell phone service, especially when we were in some of the more out of the way places.
I made a little video just to have a reminder of this section of the trip: