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Midnight Train To Paris by Ann Treacy
June 22, 2011, 8:08 am
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Monday morning Michael took off for Australia. Then Patrick and Irish Grandma headed to Dublin. The girls and I went on a boondoggle walk. It took us to a part of Italy that really was all Italian. There was a food market where the girls got lollypops. Eventually we got tired and hot and headed up to the train station.

We had a nice lunch of parma ham and melon, pizza and carbonara. Tasty! After another, quicker boondoggle walk to hang out at the station for a long time. I have to say the kids were really good.

Eventually we got on the train and promptly sat in the wrong couchette, which meant as soon as the train started we had to walk through the train to the penultimate car to our couchette – so that seemed very exciting.

Our couchette is really two long seats facing each other with 2 bunks for sleeping above. There’s a big window on one side and a sliding door to the walkway on the other. In the couchette next to ours was an American family who apparently had something much posher in mind. But we liked it. Aine climbed up immediately; Kate soon followed. We all played on computers (or wrote blog posts) until we fell asleep and once we did fall asleep we each had our own bed.

We went right through the Swiss Alps, which was beautiful. I woke up the big girls to at least see it. I took some pictures – but know from experience that those sort of shots never do justice to the real thing.

Now we’re just sitting on the train – two asleep, two awake – waiting to get to Paris.

3 Comments so far
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When I was in Switzerland five years ago, I managed to get on the local, rather than express, train out of Montreux four times before managing to get on the right train and make my pilgrimage — three hours later than I’d planned — to Rilke’s grave in the little village of Raron.

Your couchette reminds me of the adventure and fun I had Eurailpass-ing around Western Europe the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college. During one of those journeys, on the spur of the moment I decided to bid my traveling companions adieu temporarily in Paris so that I could accompany a frail, incredibly old — he’d won the Victoria Cross fighting on the British side in the Boer War! — Swedish man who was alone on the train heading to his family’s home outside of Stockholm.

On my way back the next day, I was held up for the first (and I hope last) time in the Stockholm train station. Some clown came up and stuck what he wanted me to think was a gun in his jacket pocket into my back and told he was a policeman and was arresting me. When I asked for identification — I decided I’d prefer being shot rather than kidnapped — he looked down and I took the opportunity to pivot around and decked him with three or four short left hooks to the right side of his head. Turned out the gun was actually a pocket comb. He jumped up and began hollering but fortunately there were a couple of Swedish youth who’d witnessed the whole incident from a mezzanine walkway; the last I saw my would-be kidnapper, a pair of 7-foot Stockholm cops had grabbed his elbows, lifted him off the ground and were carrying him off to the hoosegaw.

Would have meted out the same retribution to the pickpocket who lifted my wallet three weeks ago at Chatujak Weekend Market here in Bangkok. But this time, it was me who never knew what hit him. Another first — I’d never had my wallet stolen before! At the same time, I have to hand it to whoever stuck his or hand into my pocket — damn, they were good!

Comment by Rich Broderick

Makes me want to hop on a plane just so I can take those beautiful train trips. There is nothing more calming than riding a train through mountains.

Comment by Laurie

Rich – glad to hear your stories now that we’re safe in Dublin! I figure if nothing else the girls will know what they’re in for when they are in college thinking about a train to somewhere.

I was a little nervous about pickpockets – but we were lucky – no real issues came up.

The people traveling in the couchette next to ours apparently had lost their passports the day before. An expensive hassle they said.

In some ways I think we looked to forlorn to bother.

Comment by Ann Treacy

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