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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Off to Asti

Some time ago, Linda had met a wonderful American couple, Bill and Maria, who now live near Asti in the northern part of Italy. With instructions carefully in hand, we departed Athens on an Aegean Airlines flight headed for Milan. From the Milan airport, we took a bus into Milan and arrived at the Central Railway Station.

Once we were in the depot, we found that we could enter the restrooms for only 1 Euro apiece ($1.35) and should be sorting our trash into four different categories.
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Linda bought us tickets to Asti, never even having to use her limited Italian. We would catch the train to Turin, change for a train to Asti and Maria would pick us up at the Asti station.

After feeding the pigeons in the huge depot in Milan, we found seats on the train, placed our luggage in the overhead rack and settled in after downloading the current day's newspapers onto the Amazon Kindle.
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I had better let Linda finish the story. Our memories are very different about what happened next. We successfully transferred in Turin to the train headed for Asti. We were 2 old folks with 4 bags and it was no small feat to carry the bags down the aisles looking for a place to sit. We found a space between two cars for our bags with a jump seat for one passenger. Tom volunteered to sit with the bags and I went into the adjoining car and found a seat facing Tom. I had called Maria and told her which train we were on and she said we'd arrive in Asti at 4:04. My plan was to be standing by our bags about 10 minutes before our scheduled arrival so we could depart the train quickly. Just 10 short minutes into the ride there is violent pounding on the compartment door and I looked up to see Tom hammering on the window and gesticulating wildly to me. All others in the car quickly turned to find the source of the commotion too. By the time I opened the door Tom was out on the platform with 2 of our bags so I quickly grabbed the other 2 bags, held the closing train door open with my leg and threw the bags and myself out onto the platform to join him. Immediately I knew we were in the wrong place. We were in Villanova d'Asti. Tom had seen the "Asti" part and thought that we were in Asti--we were not. We were the ONLY tourists in Villanova d'Asti that day and probably all week.
The next train came 10 minutes later but it was a local train so it stopped at every little hamlet on the way to Asti. We arrived 30 minutes later than expected and were met by our patient friend Maria, waving her red hat. (We had made her an honorary Red Hat member in 2010.)

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