Midnight Express

Whew.  Dodged a
bullet on this one.  A date circled
on our trip that had the potential to elevate Dad to ‘planner of the year’…. Or
drop me back down to ‘loser’ status. 

(As the father of a teen and a tweener there’s often a big L
on my forehead… but so far I haven’t become an overseas embarrassment)

The overnight train from Paris to Rome.  14 hours in a couchette that holds six
travelers and will involve sleeping with two strangers.  We check in and immediately begin
watching who walks by the door:  

Gruff ‘twenty something’ guys who haven’t bathed in a
month…. No.

Loud talking inebriated couple with accents I don’t

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recognize…. No.

2 Nuns as sweet as Mother Theresa….. No.

Young couple in love off on an adventure…. No.

As the departure time approaches we secretly hope it will be
ours alone, when we finally meet our travel mates.  A dozen members of a French family gathering from all over
the country for a week’s vacation in Tuscany.  Led by the matriarch, an 81 year old wonder woman, we meet
them all.  Brothers and sisters,
daughters and sons, grandchildren and even a tag along friend.  Grandma speaks pretty good English and
immediately adopts us as pals. 
Each takes a turn popping in to say bonjour.  From 11 years old to 81 they all wish us well.  Within minutes we couldn’t care less
who sleeps over and neither could they. (It turned out to be Grandma and the
youngest granddaughter).  
While not becoming ‘friends for life’ we shared many stories and
certainly enjoyed their company.

As for the experience itself – mixed reviews.   My vision of an exciting
overnight ride on the rails turned into a restless night shivering in one of
the middle sleepers.  The train
service provides a wafer thin cover sheet and a pillow as thick as a slice of melba
toast.  (And just as soft!)  So, for me, it was a struggle to fall
asleep.  Kandi had what she
describes as a ‘decent’ sleep and of course the kids zonked out and had the
best sleep ever.

At the end of the day, certainly ‘an experience’ worth

Tomorrow….. introduction to Rome