Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Naked in Naples

Somehow, we managed to get ourselves to another major dead end. Coupled with Matts imminent cold, a train was in order. To reducepur own pain, we decided to train all the way to Naples. The road map did not show any joyous riding ahead.

Matt tells the tale of mounting the train:
Train shows up, no cycle sign on front of car, grab bike ride to rear, told by conductor to go in the front of the train. Turned around, not enough room, front tire dropped off the platform. I fell onto the tracks, gracefully I may add. Started walking to the far end, content on taking the next train, but it became clear the conductor was waiting for us. We jumped back on the bikes and raced for the far end.

Liz got to the door first, it was crammed full of people who wouldn't move. The conductor offered to hold my bike while I helped Liz. In what would have been hilariously funny any other time, the bike popped up the front wheel and started to haul the conductor down. At this point Liz was in the car but couldn't fit the bike through the door into the storage area and had to unload all her stuff to make it fit.

Once the way was cleared I hoisted the bike on my shoulder, fully loaded, and like the demigod Hercules carried it up onto the train. Jammed it through the doors and sat stunned holding it as the conductor cleared a spot for us to put our bikes.

Finally on our way to Naples, the train several minutes late, having made a complete fools of ourselves we found a spot to sit underneath an access box. Cramped, damped, bruised.


After sitting crouched for a bit, we noticed a young couple across from us with an Italy travel book. Liz asked to borrow it and soon became immersed in conversation with, what would eventually come out, two doctors from Tasmania.

Our doctor friends had been touring from Spain. We swapped travel stories, advised on what to see and not and talked of home. As we pulled into Naples station, we exchanged emails and headed on our separate ways.

At this point it was about 4 in the afternoon, neither of us had eaten since breakfast. Both in need of food and not wanting to whip the knives and food staples out, a quick lunch from a vending machine was in order.

With my cold fast turning me into a useless lump we made a quick plan to grab a train to Sorrento and head to the campsite located just on the outside of town.

Easy enough, right?

Liz gets back from the ticket office and tells me need to head downstairs to the other trains. Being a large train station we look for some elevators (none of whichactually work of course). Looks like we need to use the escalator. Not a big deal, we're getting that nailed down.

One obstacle down, the next was the automated entrance to the trains. Luckily there was a kind old man working the door and he let us pass through.

Obstacle 3 was 3 short steps down to a mid-platform. Liz tried to do it by herself, popped a wheelie and nearly took out a young mother and child, who were begging for sympathy and money. I tried my hand at the descent, and made it slightly more elegantly.

Obstacle 4 was a massive fligt of stairs down to platform 3. No problem, we're only in Naples, it's not like this place isn't know for thieves. Anywho, we locked my bike up at the top and carried Liz's down. I headed up, made a fool of myself trying to hoist the Vanmoof on my shoulder again to carry it down and was luckily offered a hand by a local. Between him, Liz and I we made it down to the bottom.

About 20 minutes to go for our train, another local told us to head to the front of the train, we'd be able to roll right on. Trusting to their knowledge we headed that way and waited.

We've all been in this position before, rush hour, everyone jockeying for position where they think the doors will be. Finally the moment comes. We guessed wrong, the train pulls up short by 10 feet. As the car begins to fill, hope fades that we'll be making this train. Soon comes the brushoff from the conductor, no room for us. The next train come is 30min.

We wait, find a bench and sit. The station starts to fill moments before each train leaves the platform and then is empty. The people who fill it are a combination of hawkers, tourists and locals. All seem to be smokers. The smell hangs in the air, added to my feeling of illness. Finally the next train pulls up. Right in front of us, Yes! What's this, the conductor won't let us on with our bikes? Several locals protest and insult her, still no is the verdict and we get lost in the sea of people rushing for the open doors.

Sick, tired and aggravated, I start heading for the escalator to get out of this hell hole, but am dragged back by the same locals who pled our case to the conductor. A few moments of broken language later we knew there is another train coming in 2 minutes to Sorrento and to head to the other end, there wont be a cretina conductor to stop us from getting on.

Sure enough the train arrives Liz just rolls right on, I attempt to follow but am blocked by a stranger. Fearing I won't get on I shout at him and hit him with the bicycle. He moves, we make it on and after a hour of moving the bikes from side to side, the ordeal is over. We exit the station in Sorrento, ride about a kilometer and are at the campsite.

The day finally over, Liz makes me dinner and I pass out.

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