9/09/2004

first, let me resurrect my list o' band names with this flash of brilliance: hurricanes and hypocrisy. what sort of music would H&H play, do you think? (this is where you hit the "comment" link, people.) i vote for no-wave. i devoted much of the last hour or so to crafting this informative bit for all the farmers traveling to this conference i'm helping to organize. this is gleaned from my past few months of extensive rail travel: Some Advice on Train Travel in Italy: When traveling by train in Italy, it is best -- though not necessary -- to arrive at the train station well-armed with knowledge of which train you wish to take to avoid possibly waiting hours for the next train or missing your train altogether. To determine what options are available, you can visit www.trenitalia.com. For most trips, it is not necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but you may wish to do this for longer distances or overnight trains. To check the train schedule at the station, look for the large "PARTENZE" (Departure) poster (usually yellow), which will list all scheduled trains. Once you locate which train you are taking, be sure to note what time it is scheduled to stop at your destination (which is not necessarily the final destination of the train), as often there are no onboard announcements (or they are unintelligible). Also note which "Binario" (platform) your train will depart from. Be aware that trains run less frequently on Sundays and may follow different schedules or routes (demarcated "giorni non-lavorativi" -- non-working days). At larger stations, departure information will also be displayed on large boards overhead, and you should check whether your train is delayed ("in ritardo") or has been switched to a different track. At smaller stations, the station agent (in green uniform) may make an announcement over the PA system, but you should ask him/her -- just in case. There are different types of train lines to service local or express routes. Only Eurostar trains (not to be confused with Eurail, which is unrelated) require seat reservations; this may be optional (read: unnecessary) on the others. You can also opt for first or second class seating, but there is little difference between the two (other than price). Larger stations are also equipped with automated ticketing machines, which are quite easy to use and offer services in English. These machines can also print out your trip itinerary for you, which can come in handy. You should plan to arrive at least 20 minutes in advance of departure. If you are traveling with a large group, this is particularly important on Eurostar routes if you wish to stay together, as seats fill up quickly. Before boarding your train, you must validate your ticket. I repeat: YOU MUST VALIDATE YOUR TICKET! Passengers bearing unvalidated tickets onboard are fined. Once on board, it is advisable to ask (a fellow passenger or an agent if one is at hand) if this is indeed the train you intend to take. Just in case. If you are planning on sleeping, you may wish to set an alarm to alert you when the train is scheduled to make your stop. However, Italian trains are not known for either their punctuality or consistency, so don't count on it being a) on time, or b) not on time. It may also not be easy to determine if you have arrived at the correct destination, as often, it may be difficult to see the station name from your seat or car. Again, ask your fellow passenger for confirmation. In fact, this is the best advice you can take with you on the trains: When in doubt, ask. And then ask again. Just in case. kind of explains why i had so much trouble getting around this damn country in the first place, don't it?

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