Allyson Barnes is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and Studio Arts major at University of Colorado Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Allyson shares an obstacle she experienced while traveling in Italy and lists 4 things to do when you travel in Europe by train.
I was actually lucky enough to be able to travel outside of Florence and even outside of Italy during my study abroad trip. First I would love to share about some of the things I learned from the places I visited and some of the amazing sights, but I would also like to do a brief tips and tricks for traveling in Europe by train, because my friends and I had our fair share of troubles.
I had a chance to go with my friends from Florence on a boating adventure in Capri.
My friends and I made quite the effort to plan an elaborate trip to the Amalfi Coast for a weekend. The Amalfi Coast is on the southern coast of Italy and it is fairly close to the luxury island of Capri. We stayed at a beautiful Airbnb overlooking the water and had everything we needed for a relaxing, yet fun weekend. We even booked a yacht for a day to tour around the island of Capri, see the caves, and even go snorkeling! It was such an amazing experience. We were a large group of people, so coordinating was difficult. I always recommend traveling in smaller groups if possible.
Kylie and I on top of Mt. Vesuvius.
After our weekend plans were over, one of my roommates, Kylie, and I decided to take all of Sunday to travel to Pompeii and explore the ruins of the city lost long ago. As an anthropology student (and just a history nerd in general) seeing Pompeii was a once in a lifetime experience. I was able to stand on the ground those people stood on before their city was ruined by Mt. Vesuvius. We also hiked that volcano which was quite the feat! And we were able to overlook what seemed like all of Italy.
Kylie and I having sandwiches on our train to Rome.
The problem with our travel, though, ended up occurring when we had to ride the train. We had a connection in Rome and it was going to be the last train out for the night. So, we hopped on our train to Rome and then expected to have plenty of time to get to our connection heading to Florence. We were very wrong. Our train was late to Rome causing us to miss the last train to Florence for the night. So we ended up having to stay in Rome at a hotel for the night.
Our group booked a yacht to tour around Capri together.
We also experienced other travel issues with trains during our other travels while we were abroad this summer. Most of our issues were something along the lines of what happened to us in Rome. We had a connection and the train was late to get there, causing us to miss the next train. So, I thought maybe some helpful pointers would be nice for those of you considering traveling to Europe and expect to use the train system.
Traveling can be challenging, but it has its good times.
Here's a pic of my friends and I enjoying the Amalfi Coast.
Here are some of my tips on how to efficiently travel by train in Europe:
1. Plan Ahead
We stepped into a house in Pompeii on the same ground before the city was ruined by the volcano.
Always plan ahead. Buy your tickets ahead of time and plan for enough time in between connection trains in case the first one is late.
2. Get Your Ticket Stamped
The ruins at Pompeii.
Remember to stamp your ticket before getting on the train. Most of Italy and other places in Europe too need to always validate when the tickets are being used, especially if they aren’t purchased for specific dates or times. They don’t want you using tickets more than once, so always stamp before you get on your train so you aren’t fined.
3. Opt for a Bus
Had to snapchat this memory of being stuck in Rome with Kylie!
Try bussing as well! Taking a bus is often as easy as a train and sometimes can be just as fast for much less money. When you are traveling, try combining using the trains for long distance and bussing the rest of your short distance to get to your destination for cheaper!
4. Be Early
Always get to the station early. The train stations are usually very crowded and it is often hard to determine which train number yours is. Giving yourself extra time is really important to make sure you get to your train.
Staying overnight in Rome.
Although we faced difficulties with train travel, that is nothing negative against it. I found it very efficient and cost-effective. It was a great way to get around and see different parts of Europe wherever we decided to go that day. Travel is never easy, no matter how you do it and how much you plan. I just wanted to share my experiences because although they were difficult at times, the were always worth it in the end.
Allyson's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.