Best laid plans

They say that you are not really travelling in Europe if you don’t have some kind of trouble with trains – missing one, catching one just in the nick of time, and so on. So today I feel like a true intrepid European traveller once more. This morning we departed the funky apartment early, to catch the 9.40am train to Taranto, from where we would change trains and go on to Napoli, as described in yesterday’s post.

But no…. that is not quite how it worked out. We got to the station, checked which platform to go to, rushed there (we were running a bit late), and joined one other person on the platform. The information board was lit up with the train’s destination and time of arrival.

“What does ‘soppresso’ mean?” asked SB. I wasn’t sure… so asked the other person on the platform. He said, “It doesn’t mean anything, don’t pay any attention…” or words to that effect.

Then the destination board was turned off. I turned again to our fellow traveller.

“Do you know why the information has gone? Is this a problem?”

“No, no,” he assured me. “It just means that the train is arriving now.”

But neither SB nor I felt remotely reassured, especially as there was no approaching train in sight. I ran off down the stairs back to the main hall to see what I could learn. Our Fellow Traveller followed suit. SB then followed as well, carrying all the big bags.

And what transpired was that ‘soppresso’ did indeed mean ‘cancelled’. There is a bus, arriving in front of the station, ready to take you to Taranto, we were told. So we waited outside. Our fellow traveller was there too, and I learned that he too was heading to Napoli.

Ten minutes later, no bus, and we are starting to worry about our connecting train.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” said the Fellow Traveller. “There are lots of trains from Taranto to Napoli, all through the day.” But he was starting to look worried as well, and eventually he and I went to the ticket office to start asking more serious questions about other alternatives for getting to Napoli. We were sent to the Traveller Information Office, where a kindly woman told us that the substitute bus to Taranto had already left – of course! It left from the front of the station according to the timetable. The next train we could catch would not depart for a further four hours. She was not sure if there were seats available on it.

“What a mess!” groaned the Fellow Traveller. I thought he was putting it a bit mildly, given the number of people we had approached to get more information about the situation.

There were announcements, she told us mildly. Hadn’t we heard them? Fellow Traveller said he hadn’t them because he had been wearing headphones. I told her that every announcement that had been made since I had been on the platform had been completely unintelligible and that the PA System was a pile of rubbish. Or words to that effect. She smiled benignly and not unsympathetically at me. I felt a bit better.

In the end, SB and I decided that, seeing as we hadn’t yet validated our tickets, we might as well spend another day in Lecce, and travel to Napoli tomorrow. We loaded ourselves up again, headed back to the funky apartment, woke up the landlord to retrieve the key that we had dropped in his letterbox an hour earlier, and went back inside to restart the day.

And then proceeded to do not much today at all. It felt like a kind of a weekend. This whole New Year period has felt a bit like one long, long weekend. My non-tourism seems to be habit now. Which is no bad thing. But hopefully I shall redeem myself in Napoli, going to Pompeii and touring the Amalfi coast and other such delights.

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