Today has, overall, been a GOOD DAY.
We feel so much better about shit now. The trip is in full swing and we are in fucking Switzerland!! This place is beautiful and we've already seen so much. It looks very very promising.
So today we left from Milan and ended up in Geneva. This was the main event of the day (the travelling I mean) as we've had to sort stuff out here and haven't had much time to explore. But there is plenty to look forward to tomorrow and we should be fresh and ready for it.
I have to apologise for the lack of photos in this blog - there's a bit of a problem at the moment with uploading photos from Sam's iPhone on to the netbook. When we're on trains and when there are small things that we want to quickly take a photo of, the iPhone is what we use. Unfortunately, today was mainly about the train ride from Italy to Switzerland, so we haven't been able to get the photos we took on the netbook. We'll keep trying and if we do we'll add them to the post later...I can edit posts after they've published, thank God.
Some more interesting stuff has happened though, apart from the train ride, and this is DEFINITELY worth reading.
So let's get going!
So we woke up in the hotel in Milan.
NO ELECTRONICS. Fuck.
It's a good job the fucking shower was good, otherwise this would have been the most depressing morning EVER.
We actually got woken up by the Chinese hotel owner knocking on our door. Sam threw on some clothes and answered it, and he got given three different screwdrivers by the guy.
This guy is amazing. He did nothing but try and help us throughout the whole situation, and he went way beyond what you would expect from a hotel owner in this position. We gave him many thanks.
None of the screwdrivers worked....but that's not the point!!
Anyway, in the end Sam broke the adapter open, and there was nothing we could do about it. It wasn't anything simple like a fuse or anything like that, this thing was fucking DEAD.
So the plan then was pretty much to get ready and out of the hotel as soon as possible so we could get to Milano Centrale train station as early as possible to try and find a plug adapter.
We showered, got our stuff together, and left.
After the short walk and tube journey, we got to the station.
When we walked in from the metro station exit outside, one of the first things we saw was a supermarket. I think we had over an hour and a half at this point before our train to Geneva, so we went in to stock up on food and see if, by some crazy luck, they had an adapter.
There was no adapter, but we did get some relatively cheap food. We'd heard from a lot of people that Switzerland is mind-blowingly expensive, so we wanted to stock up before we left.
We got a massive baguette, four apples, a large packet of biscottis (small almond biscuits) and a cherry yoghurt (that was for me, I was starving).
After this, we walked through the station and found an area where there was a café, some rows of seats and some shops.
I wanted to eat my yoghurt, so we sat down on the seats. We then saw that one of the shops had some electronics in it, so Sam went and had a look.
We thought that finding a European to British plug adapter in Milan would be unlikely. Why would they have stuff for British sockets? It's not as if they're the most obvious type of sockets to convert to from European sockets.
Sam came back 10 minutes later.
He'd found a Worldwide Travel Adapter, which could convert all of the main socket types (European, British, American, Australian etc.) to any of the other main socket types.
He hadn't bought it yet...it was 26 euros. And just ONE SOCKET.
We decided it was worth it.
So a few minutes later he came back with the adapter in hand.
We didn't get our hopes up...we thought that knowing our luck, the adapter wouldn't work or it would break the first time we put it into the socket. The first thing we had to do was to try it out.
Sam asked the shop if he could get his money back if it didn't work, but they said that he could only exchange it for another one. So it really had to work.
It took us a while, but we finally found a place with a socket in the train station - a juice bar. We didn't want to waste money unnecessarily, but we had to buy something so we could use their facilities (they also had wifi!). So Sam got an espresso and we set to work.
We plugged in my netbook and plugged everything into the wall.
This was one of the best feelings of the whole trip. I'm sure you can relate to it in some way...it's like when your football team goes behind in a game and it looks like there's no hope...and then out of nowhere you come back to win. It was fucking brilliant.
We checked all of our internet shit and got stuff charged up as much as we could.
Eventually we saw that the platform number for our train to Geneva was up, so we left and headed for the train.
We got on and saw that we were in a 4-seater with two Italian strangers (great...), but we had window seats and there were sockets. So it was more than adequate.
We plugged in my netbook to finish charging, and the train left.
Throughout the journey, we switched the devices being charged. We wanted to make sure everything was as charged up as possible because at that point we were still really paranoid that something was going to go wrong again.
But now, after talking about all that electric shit...let's focus on the journey.
I just realised that I haven't shown you a map of where we've been travelling for AGES. I think the last time was in Spain. So I'll show you a map of this train journey and also of the whole trip so far:
Where there are two lines side by side is where we travelled along the same line but back again.
Sorry about the shitty Paint scribbling but it does the job! May not be completely exact.
As you can see (sort of...) from this satellite image, the journey took us through some dramatic mountain landscapes:
I don't really know how to talk about the journey in this post, especially without pictures...I could really geek out and tell you all the geographical terms for all of the landscapes we saw (for example, truncated spurs, arrêts, U-shaped valleys) but it won't mean too much to you.
Maybe this will...IT WAS THE BEST FUCKING THING EVER.
It was beautiful, especially in the bright sunshine. We saw everything from the rolling hills of north Italy to the chiselled, snow-topped mountains and blue lakes of Switzerland. Our view was superb, and if the Glacier Express is as good as this (although I know it'll be better) I would be a happy person.
I wondered before the journey why it took four hours, because Geneva is actually very close to the Italian border, but as you can see it skirted round the lake. I'm not complaining; it was awesome and we saw a lot of Switzerland.
So basically it was the best train journey of the trip so far.
We got into Geneva at about 4.15pm.
Sam had written the directions to our hotel (there were no cheap hostels available, it was very expensive) in his notebook, so once we got out of the station, we used this to navigate.
We had to walk up a long road which was also on a hill, so as you can imagine it was really nice, especially with our fucking heavy rucksacks. On this hill we saw that Geneva had trams, which was pretty cool.
After getting off this main street, we just had to make a few small turns, and then we found ourselves at the hotel.
What the fuck is this place.
Oh, by the way, it's a 4-STAR HOTEL. This means it is very good.
I'll give you a clue as to how good...there were fucking chandeliers in the lobby. It was a very strange experience just walking into somewhere like that after staying in cheap hostels for the whole trip previously.
We checked in and got our key cards (yes, KEY CARDS!) for our room, as a well as a map of the city and passes which let us get on any public transport in Geneva for free...YES, NO FINES!! We also got directions to a local laundromat, which we really needed as we hadn't washed our clothes for a while.
We walked up the red-carpeted, gold-bordered stairs and entered our room.
This is fucking ridiculous.
Two pristine beds (which had a sign on saying that they were custom made for 'exquisite dreams'...), soap, towels, shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom, a table, a chair, even a minibar.
I sat down on the bed...and died.
After pulling ourselves together, we got settled in and got all of our electronic stuff ready. We were told that there was free wifi for guests in the lobby. We had shit to do.
After attempting to connect to the internet, we realised that you had to get these access codes from reception (luckily this was right next to the lobby). Basically, you get tickets with codes which can be used for a certain amount of time (there were 4-hour internet tickets, 1 hour and half an hour) and when you connect to the wifi you put in the code and can then use the internet for the amount of time on the ticket before it automatically disconnects you.
We both got hour–long tickets and checked all of our internet stuff.
However, one of us had to go to the laundromat and do the laundry, so Sam went and said he’d be about an hour and a half.
While he was out, I continued working on some of the blog posts I have recently posted. I was pretty much glued to the screen, so there isn't really much to tell you!
Sam finally came back with a bag of clean clothes, but with the news that it cost some ridiculous amount that I cannot even remember. Switzerland really is too expensive.
We then thought about what we were going to do in Geneva for the evening. It seemed that most of the stuff to do was in the centre of the city, which we could get too easily and quickly from a tram just down the road from the hotel, so we thought it would be logical to go and have a look around there.
We went up to the room and got stuff together to put in the shoulder bag to take with us.
But there was no bag.
We looked everywhere - in Sam's rucksack, where he normally stores it, in my rucksack, in the room in case we already took it out...but no luck.
Sam was really freaking out. The bag cost him quite a lot and, on top of the that, it is a nice bag and has been very useful for us on the trip.
After Sam calmed himself down a bit, we talked about where we might have lost it. We narrowed it down to two places: the last hotel (although we were confident that we'd checked the room thoroughly before we left) or on the last train when Sam got something out of his bag.
Sam wasn't really in a fit state to go out (I think this on top of the disaster yesterday was a bit much) and he just wanted to do what he could to remedy the situation.
So we went down to the lobby and he emailed the last hostel owner about the situation. We didn't do anything with the trains...we weren't sure what to do, so we decided to wait until we heard back from the hotel.
It was getting to late evening and Sam still didn't want to go out. It was getting to late evening and the light wouldn't have been as good for photography anyway. So we stayed in.
I had plenty of stuff to do for the blog anyway, so it wasn't as if I was going to be bored. And we reasoned that if we stayed in tonight, we could wake up earlier tomorrow and have more time to explore Geneva.
So this was pretty much it! The only annoying thing was that we had to get like a million internet vouchers for the evening, which the hotel staff were a bit unsure about...but we didn't care.
This is Jack writing from Lausanne, Switzerland, on the 17th (2 days after). I did most of this post yesterday so just had to finish it off tonight. I should hopefully get the post for yesterday done tonight and then we will be more or less caught up.
This was a pretty strange day, but the train journey was definitely the highlight. It was stunning and I'm looking forward to the rest of our journeys through this part of Europe.
There's lots to get through, so I better not waste any more time on this post! I hope it's provided some entertainment for you. Hopefully you'll really enjoy the next post...much more pictures and much more stuff about Switzerland. I'm looking forward to writing it!
So stay tuned for more soon, and thanks for reading!
Jack - 17/6/12 - 21:49 in Lausanne, 20:49 in the UK