We separated from our friends Steve and Karen for a few days. They went off to Switzerland to visit a family friend and we stayed one extra night in Rome to do our adventurous Macbook power adaptor shopping, and then figured ourselves the cheapest route to get to Barcelona. Our options were the following:
- Take an overnight ferry – We pretty much crossed this option off right away… thinking we have Eurail passes that we paid good money for and should use them.
- Take an overnight train to Zurich and then jump on a train to Barcelona – From our past experiences with overnight trains and paying the extra costs for the private sleeper cabins we decided to avoid this.
- Take a train to Milan and then catch a connection train to Nice. Stay in Nice overnight and then catch a train the next day to Barcelona. With only having to pay reservation fees this is the route we picked. It sound the easiest for travel and providing a small amount of time in Nice with a good nights rest.
So, the next day we made our reservations, we picked the fastest connection in Milan so we could arrive in Nice with some time to actually explore it a bit. Arriving in Milan, I ask Scott how long do we have till we get on our next train? He tells me we have just under 2 hours. We noticed on the board there was a train leaving in 15 mins to Nice but since our stomachs were growling and we have all learned that hunger overrules all, we decided to get some lunch and hop into an Internet café to reserve a room on HRS.com in Nice. We were taught from my German relatives that this site gives cheaper rates and great specials for hotels then what you would be told by just showing up. To our surprise, they were right and hotels sometimes even proved to be cheaper on HRS.com then booking a hostel room!
We choose a hotel room in Nice that was right across the street from the train station to make things super easy for our early morning train to Barcelona the next day. Paid the deposit fee, grabbed ourselves a McDonald’s ice cream cone in celebration, and headed back slowly to the Milan train station to catch our train, taking pictures of the outside fountain on the way. We were actually quite impressed by the train station… and have heard that is pretty much the only impressive thing to see in Milan.
Licking our cones in satisfaction we look at the board to see what track our train is on, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Not one electronic line of information stated our train number let alone anything saying its destination was Nice. Scott pulls out our reservation ticket to double-check the time and with much swearing advises me he was always looking at the date on the ticket rather then the time!! Our train was actually the one we saw on the board when we first arrived here. Now we just wasted money on our reservation fee and are starting to worry if we can even get to Nice tonight for our hotel reservation with an already paid deposit.
Now our ice cream cones were not as satisfying.. so we pulled ourselves over onto a bench to collect our composure and finish off the cones. What are we going to do? I pulled out our Eurail timetable schedule and we flipped back and forth through the pages frantically. From what we could see there was no more options available to us. I feel like I kept my cool in this whole situation quite well, but Scott was dreading the worse. I think more because he did a mistake of reading the ticket incorrectly and that little mistake lead us to arguing on this little bench and loosing money all at the same time. It was getting quite hard to reason with him to the point we had to just not talk to each other for 5 minutes.
During those 5 minutes I thought to myself while looking at this tiny little schedule book that there is no way it lists ALL the trains in Europe. It must just list the most popular routes and leave the rest out. It would be impossible for something so small to have all the listings for such a VAST train network across 21 countries that accept the Eurail. Once the five minutes past and I could see the vein on Scott’s forehead decreased in size, I explained to him my thoughts and suggest we go stand in the long line and tell the lady we need to get to Nice tonight and see if there is anyway it can be done. Scott doubted the idea but after some more discussion I convinced him to get up and come with me.
Low and behold there was a way to get to Nice. It involved us connecting 3 or 4 times in small town France locations that we can’t even remember and landed us in Nice at 9 pm. Our reservation deposit was not a waste and we were ever so thankful to have a room just across the street from the station. Unfortunately we arrived exhausted and never saw Nice, since our train to Barcelona was at 6 am the next day.
What did we learn in this situation?
- Make sure you are reading your ticket correctly especially if you can’t read the language on it! Maybe even have your travel mate to look at the ticket as well.
- Always double check your train numbers and don’t just rely on checking for the destination on the board.
- The Eurail time schedule you are given does NOT list all the trains.
- Keep your cool if you mess up and miss a train, as there is most likely another option for you.
- Give Scott about 5 minutes if he gets really frustrated and upset before speaking to him with good solution making ideas.