These stories will be presented in no particular order and will follow no particular theme. They will simply be a collection of memories that make travel more enjoyable each time.
The Italian Rail Strike
Our first ever visit to Florence was extremely unforgettable. We had traveled all night on second class couchettes from Amsterdam on the way to Rome. We decided to get off for a few hours of sightseeing in Florence. We could walk around the city, visit a few sites, and reboard the train for Rome at 2:00 p.m. On this particular day, Florence was very hot and very crowded; several of the places we had wanted to visit were closed for renovations. So we decided to go back to the station and wait for our train. There seemed to be quite a bit of activity there, but it was two hours later before we learned that all the excitement was caused by the announcement that a "lightning strike" had been called and would affect only the trains going to Rome! We were frantic. There were no rooms to be had in Florence; the two buses (with a total of 100 seats) that had been rounded up to take folks to Rome were surrounded by approximately 800 irate travelers who seemed much more willing to risk a limb for one of the seats than we were; and the lone rental car left in Florence (about the size of a large Crisco can) was being bid out at approximately 500 dollars when we gave up the fight. We were standing in the station, wringing our hands, wondering what move we could possibly make when a Frenchman came up and (completely seriously) said: "What else can you expect from such an undisciplined people!"
This was the first (but certainly not the last) inter-country barb we have heard tossed around. By the way, we took his advice---climb on every train to Rome and wait for
thirty minutes; eventually one of them will take off---and got to our hotel in Rome only about six hours late.