by Melinda Gallo

Paying extra to sit in the aisle

After two glorious days in Monterosso, we checked out of the hotel and went to the train station to find out the train schedule. I went up to the counter to talk to the woman about when we could get on a train back to Florence. She said it'd be faster to take one train to La Spezia, then an "Intercity" train (instead of a regional one that stops at every station) from La Spezia to Pisa, and finally one direct to Florence.

I took her advice, paid the 10 Euros supplemento (supplement) and we got on the train to go to La Spezia. As I looked again at the schedule, I realized that we didn't arrive any faster because instead of changing trains at Pisa, we could've gone directly from La Spezia to Florence.

I had to ask a few people about which binario (track) our train would be arriving at. It's not very clear since they don't show any numbers. Only final destinations and times. Plus, there was another train going to Pisa on a different binario and would leave a few minutes earlier than what I had written down.

We got on the train at La Spezia, which was on its way to Naples. It was strapieno (packed). I didn't think this many people would be on the train on a Monday afternoon. Shouldn't people be at school or work? And then, it dawned on me. The train was also stopping in Rome. A lot of the people were probably on their way to the Vatican to see the Pope.

We couldn't find any seats in the train so all five of us sat on the pull-down seats in the aisle of the train. We got bumped into each time someone passed by.

As we got on the next train from Pisa to Florence, we hurried to get seats. As I plopped down, I thought I'll never take so many train rides when I can go direct. And, I will not pay a supplemento again unless they assign me a seat.

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