Three Flavors of Alps

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This blog entry about the events of Saturday, July 17, 2004 was originally posted on July 22, 2004.

DAY 273:  The sun came up over the Rhône as I waited for an early morning taxi on the riverbank.  I was the only one awake in probably all of the Ile de la Barthelasse at 6:30, other than security guards or groundskeepers.  I was the only one on the island trying to get an early train out of Avignon to move onto another destination.

Usually I just make a reservation the day before for a train I want to take, but for the past three days, the French national TGV train network reservation computer system was down, forcing anyone who wants to get a train pray for a seat the day of departure.  I knew I had a long day of train travel ahead of me, so I wanted to get the first train out — my early awakening paid off and I got the train I wanted that departed at 7:31.

My ultimate destination was Florence, Italy to the southeast, but with the Sunday schedules, the only way I could work out getting there by sundown was to actually go northeast first, via Geneva, Switzerland.  My early morning train took me to the French city of Valence on the way, where I switched trains to one bound for Geneva.  After an hour layover in Geneva, a train took me to Milano Centrale where I hopped on yet another train for Florence.  I spent about three more hours in transit and arrived in Firenze (Italian for Florence), where I managed to find a place to stay a couple of blocks away from the Arno River.

Spending all day on trains wasn’t too bad.  Most of the time I caught up on writing, although a lot of times I just spaced out the window.  The four trains took me through the Alps, and I traveled over the borders that separate them into three flavors:  French, Swiss, and Italian (picture above).  The French were nice, as were the Italian — the Swiss ones I was pretty neutral about (pun totally intended).

Most of my train trip I kept from starving eating panini sandwiches from train stations, the cheap but decent way to get by in the area.  That frugal diet all changed when I met an Aussie named Val at the hostel, who had been traveling all over Europe on a severance package from Oracle Systems in Dublin, spending most of his time crashing at friends’ houses.  In fact, when he checked into the hostel at the same time I did, it was he first time checking into such a place.

“Do you usually worry about your gear?” the hostel novice asked me.

“Nah, most people are usually worried that you’re gonna steal their stuff,” I said.

Val had really lived it up with his package from his former employer; in just about six weeks, he had blown about the same amount of money I had spent over eight months, splurging in fancy hotels, bars and clubs across Europe.  With a cheap place to stay this night — after deducing his funds wouldn’t last forever so he better start toning the luxuries down — he didn’t scrimp on a place that just served paninis.  Instead, the two of us went out to a nice outdoor restaurant/cafe in a piazza to swap travel tales over risotto, gnocchi and a fine bottle of chianti. 

As far as the flavors of the fine Tuscan food and drink went, they were rich and robust, the way real Italian food should be, and there’s nothing really neutral about that.






Next entry: Memories of Tuscany

Previous entry: On the Roof and Under the Bridge




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Comments for “Three Flavors of Alps”

  • well, instead of starting my work, i read your story. nice story to start the day smile i remember when robin and i saw our first ALP, yes, just one from our ride on a train from venice to nice… BTW nice is STILL NICE!
    N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  06:48 PM


  • Ok, I finally got to see episode 3 or AR5 (Erik, I’m keeping them in case you want to watch them when you get here).  Charla and Mirna are right on my nerves.  That “let’s talk like we’re talking to babies all the time!” tone is most annoying.

    Posted by Liz  on  07/21  at  07:12 PM


  • LIZ - great…i haven’t been taping them anyway….hahah…

    nice pun…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  07:30 PM


  • LIZ: I couldn’t agree with you more. I thought the whole, “I’m a little person excuse,” would’ve lost it’s valor at this point but they keep abusing it. Oh Mirna is the worst of all. I’m pulling for the Christian models.

    ERIK: As usual great pics. How long were the stops at each station?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  07:41 PM


  • ‘i have to go to the doctoro’

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:02 PM


  • yeah paul, that first one is background worthy….Paul, stop pauling around the swimming paul.  u might paul down and make a paul out of urself.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:07 PM


  • ok…just to add comments on ep 3 of AR5 - can you tell me why the twims swam across that shallow water???

    EEJITS!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:17 PM


  • That could very well be the worst picture I’ve ever seen of the Swiss Alps.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:25 PM


  • I love that sunrise pic - it’s now my new background pic on my work computer. smile I think the Italian Alps picture is the best!! I like Paninis… I can’t wait to get to Italy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:31 PM


  • YAY Italia!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  08:53 PM


  • awesome pic of you on the train ... reminiscent of my own personal travels; accompanied only by random thoughts & imagination ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  09:10 PM


  • Markyt - I think they did it to provide viewers with two very wet, and very attractive girls.  Why else?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  10:25 PM


  • NEIL - maybe…i think they’re just dumb….and ordinary…just my dos centavos ova here…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  10:30 PM


  • Erik, do you ever get your paninis grilled? That was my staple in Italy.

    Liz is right on the money as usual. Mirna has got to be the most irritating person in AR history!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  10:45 PM


  • That restaurant looks familiar, where was it? Over by San Lorenzo?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/21  at  11:24 PM


  • Firenze! I loved that city. Great food, people…and THE David.

    remember, “Piano piano” (slowly slowly) the italian equivalent of “hakuna matata”.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/22  at  05:04 AM


  • They heat those panini’s up for ya? That train station looked amazing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/22  at  07:25 AM


  • Is it my imagination? ....or does it seem many people that are following Erik and his blog are seasoned travellers?  People that love to travel have the bug and when they can not get away due to many factors enjoy travelling through other people! I would appreciate comments. Just an observation.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/23  at  04:46 AM


  • ROSE: That’s pretty much my story to a tee!  I found Eriks site through bootsnall and have been following it, and only his, ever since.  I hadn’t realized that I can get my ‘travel-bug’ release through someone else before that.

    Thanks again Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/23  at  04:55 AM


  • Hey Rose and Harry -
    Exactly my story too. I get the bootsnall email, and found his blog by chance… and, it’s been the most awesome thing ever since! smile

    Erik - you rock. Once again.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/23  at  05:40 AM


  • Rose:  yup.  i’ve travelled some, but not nearly as much as i’d like to.

    Posted by Alyson  on  07/23  at  07:42 AM


  • Rose (mom): I think it was moving around so much as a child wink  Life isn’t very exciting staying in one place all the time.  You get the itch to go somewhere and do something different.  Erik’s blog is great because it is giving me ideas of all the other places I want to go now!  Ah to dream of travelling.  (Oh I also found Erik’s blog thru BootsnAll)

    Erik: Speaking of itch to go somewhere and do something different… are you interested in South Korea?  There are always weekend deals here (flight and hotel) for about $300 US.  Mmmmm barbequed meat and kimchee.  smile

    Posted by Liz  on  07/23  at  08:23 AM


  • I’ve traveled some, too, and lived abroad for a while.

    Its nice to see the world through Erik’s eyes.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/24  at  09:22 AM


  • rose,
    it’s awesome to watch someone living the dream that so many of us have!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/24  at  09:19 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Memories of Tuscany

Previous entry:
On the Roof and Under the Bridge




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