After waving goodbye I went and found something to eat, found the restrooms (50 cents!?!) Then heard blah blah blah geneva platform 4...I ran. By the time I got up there most everybody was already on the train. (Did I mention they only stop for two minutes?) In my seat I watched the country side change again from following river valleys to winding our way through gorges. The architecture changed as well from stacked rock and clay tile roofing to more white wash walls with verigated tin and scrolly wood accents. We had arrived in Switzerland. At the train station I immediately left to see what I could see during my 2 hour lay over. I was taking a picture of a church across the street when a woman approached me and asked if I wanted a pic of me in front of it.
Meet Veronica. Older woman with 3 children ages 27-36 who looks in on her disabled neighbor and walks their dog for them. She has lived in several countries and speaks 4 different languages and asked if she couldn't show me around. I was thrilled! She told me how the church I was looking at had just had a big celebration for its 150th birthday. She took me to this river with a huge fountain and pointed to a huge old church on a hill. That one she said was 1500 years old. Then she told me to walk down to the lake and not to miss my train and not to trust people and to be careful with my bag etc...she was my Switzerland mom for an hour. Very sweet. She had to take Wendy the dog back to her neighbors and make sure they had everything they needed and then her son was coming for dinner so we parted ways. What a beautiful soul!
I saw men playing roller hockey on old roller skates (not the in line kind) near the lake. It was beautiful as the sun was going down but then I realized I must have misplaced my memory card for my camera in Avingon France when I downloaded my pics at the station before the fam left :( 16GB down. Back at the train station I got a little nervous. The only train at my departure time was going to Roma. I met a woman from Texas and her two sons headed to Rome celebrating one sons graduation. The other was a sophomore in high school. They had just come from Paris and it sounded like they were having a great time. The train pulled up and thankfully had a piece of paper that showed all the stops. Florence was one so I hopped on and found my berth. Inside was a boy from Belgium. Right after me came in to guys from Pakistan. Next stop we picked up a very old man from India (his feet where amazing! Dry wrinkled and looked as though he had never worn shoes in his life!) He coined the phrase "its salty" meaning its hot where's the AC. And last but not least a guy from Rome headed home. I found myself in a sleep car with 5 men. Not what I was expecting.
The guys from Pakistan where cousins on a crazy wild trip fitting in 5 different countries and multiple cities into 9 days. We were all getting off in Florence then They were headed to Pisa then Florence then supposed to be in Vienna that night! Crazy men! Javid was studying in Lead, England getting his PhD and come to find out he is a part time note taker for Deaf students at the university. Zulfia works in the oil fields for an Italian company in Pakistan. They invited me to take a quick tour of Pisa with them. Arriving at 6am with nothing to do till 1:30 I was game but told them as long as we get back before Jacquies plane I was cool with it. They said they still had to see Florence too and catch a train at 6:30 so we went. It was awesome!!! They were very fun to travel with. We arrived walked to the square with the tower and church and old wall. Took tons of silly pics. Their philosophy was to follow the chinese people because a they stick out and have very innovative picture taking ideas. We bought tickets to climb the tower the steps are marble and worn down a ton! The top was a little scary if you don't like heights. But they don't let you stay long. Its weird to climb down a leaning building! I was happy to have my feet on solid ground again! I had to pay to pee again and then I realized I'd lost my new wooden ring (set it down while applying sun block) I was very disappointed but it had been a good day so far. We sat down to a meal of light Italian beer and pizza. It was so good! Making our way back to the train station we just missed the train to Florence that would have gotten me to the airport on time. I started to get nervous. Jacquie and I had no way to contact each other and our plan was to meet at the airport. Javid debated the validity and authenticity of "they" and that helped me keep my mind off the fact that JQ would be sitting there forever wondering what my fate was. We arrived and finding and waiting for a bus shuttle became excruciating! When the bus pulled up to the station there she was waiting to get on! I couldn't believe it! I had almost missed her! Poor thing. I was so sorry I hadn't been there when she landed. We made our way to Campo Michelangelo and life was looking up. We freshened up a bit and headed to town for dinner taking one of the Rick Steves walking tours. It was an incredible night and we saw the old gold jewler's bridge. We decided to have diner in a whole in the wall place that turned out to have incredible food hearty house wine and stellar service.
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