Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 20: Train Traveler

knew this day would come. I geared myself for it as much as I could and gave myself two nights in one place to recuperate. But one day from 6am to 10pm is one tough trip. It's one thing to do a road trip like that. I've done it, but it's rough. But I assumed, I'm not driving, I can walk, they have bathrooms, snack cars, how hard could it be?

Well let me count the ways.

I'm a clock watcher, when something says its departure time is 6am, it better leave at 6am, not 5:58 or 6:02. I'm like a child and that schedule is a promise, you don't break a promise to a child.

But then again, I'm not a child, just childish at time. Another story for another time.

I get on the first train. Lovely accommodations, first class car. Now in Germany, a 1st class car got me a free coffee and some cookies. I got a miserable little Dixie cup of coffee for €2.40 I did not expect that. 

I was so ensconced in my single window chair that for the first time, I actually fell asleep. I was very tired this morning, even when I had been setting my alarms on this trip, the excitement had me wake up before the alarms. Not this morning, I actually snoozed the alarm twice! It was hard getting up this morning.

So I wasn't really surprised I finally gave in to sleep, what I wasn't prepared for was the sprawled out, mouth hanging open and was I snoring kind of sleep that had one leg stretched out on the aisle. At least I wasn't drooling.

What kept me awake was the awesome realization that we were heading into the Italian alps, the engine was struggling, you could here it whining and the mountains were so beautiful, the looked like they touched the sky. 

I was enraptured by the sight. I was born on an island split down the center by a line of volcanic mountains. But the coastal people as we were, looked upon the mountains with awe and added a little mysticism. The mountain people were seen as witches, they frolicked with gremlins, etc. 

I don't like climbing mountains, I'm afraid of heights, but I love the majesty of them. I will gladly stand at the bottom so I can look up. I feel absolutely no need to climb any mountain or swing from them. 

So when I saw that we were coming up on Torino, I remember there was a Winter Olympics held there on time. I saw some of the areas of the mounted webbed with ski gondola wires. I stopped the need for sleeping.

But my left eye started burning and I was hoping it meant I was getting a sinus infection. I can deal with a sinus infection, I have the nose spray, I have antihistamines, I'm prepared. But an eye infection? I had had a very bad one years ago and I've been skittish about my eyes ever since. I stopped wearing contacts as much as wearing glasses is inconvenient. And there is nothing to be done with the eye infection, it was viral and I just had to ride out the illness.

So I've got this cough that won't leave and now I have an eye infection. It's one thing to be on a train that has only one stop, yours. It's another when not only do trains stop, but sometimes you have to get off and wait for the next one.

I had five trains today, four different cities where I stood around and enjoyed seeing another city, but my physical distractions were getting to me. At Lyon Part Dieu, the station was near a bustling retail center and I was able to find a pharmacy and some eye drops. Since I had 90min downtime, I sat at the mall and enjoyed a nice live jazz trio playing.

I chatted with a friend online and she was able to put some perspective on my current challenges. The eye drops didn't help, my eye kept hurting and it had started to weep, as it is the eye's main attempt to cleans the eye of irritants. But, I have to be careful and no not have any of that touch my other eye lest it become infected too.

Then drama. My fourth train was 45mins late, I only had a 40min changeover in the next town to catch my final train. I was anxious, I was hurting and I was cranky. I was not having a good day.

It took a long time to get to my hotel, a walk in the cold, dark, rain but I made it and that's what's important.

But as I sit here, I remember that when I was rushing back to the train station in Lyon, I had to cross several tram tracks. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old man head in opposite me, struggling with his wheelchair. Then just as I was thinking how to tell him if I could help, a young man walking in his direction stopped, said something and pushed the old man through the tracks. That was very nice, a simple gesture but in a world full of pain and uncaring, it was necessary.

So maybe and I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. But we get these challenges that bring out the worse in us, the caustic, acerbic snark. But we have the chance to notice that you don't have to be that way, that sometimes things just work out and no amount of worry will make it happen any faster.

There are just things you can't help, it doesn't help to get frustrated and angry. No one cursed you, you aren't being followed by a dark, menacing cloud, and sometimes an eye infection is just an eye infection, not the evil eye.

Did I mention how the scenery was lovely? I wished I could have opened the dirty windows so I could get a really good photo and turn it into a poster.

I had that consolation. And sometimes if that is all that is required of you, then just shut up and enjoy the scenery.

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