so the first day of June greeted us with rain. We were leaving italy, and we joked that italy was crying because we were leaving ;) ok, we are silly. We said a big goodbye and thank you to Lorenzo for all his generosity and kindness, and we boarded the train, northward and beyond!
We arrived in Milano, a huge train station, and realized we couldn't get reservations at the automated machines because we were leaving the country. We had just enough time to get through the long line and get seats for the Eurostar to Basel. We had decided to go to Nancy in France that night, because the hotels in Strasbourg and Luxembourg were too expensive for our short layover of 12 hours.
The Eurostar trains are pretty neat; they are these long sleek machines that travel amazing speeds and when they pass you at small town stations they make a whistling sound as they race by. It is impressive how well organized the network of trains are in Europe. Having the Eurail pass is great, the ticket agents just come by and look at it and then smile big smiles and say have a great trip. We have enjoyed traveling these long distances in comfort.
We raced north along tracks, by lakes and the mountains that grew up out of the prairies, shrouded in the mists. The valleys got steeper and the tunnels started; it is awe inspiring to be going through the core of the alps, imagining the mass of rock above us, stretching higher and higher, getting narrower as all the streams have slowly cut away at their flanks, until there is just one point of rock, a peak reaching for skies.
When we suddenly pop out into Switzerland, there is fresh snow on the green mountainsides, just a dusting. The language morphs from italian to german, new passengers get on and we have traveled through – under- the misty mountains and beyond.
We switch trains in Basel, and are suddenly back in France, voyaging through the Rhine valley, the Alsace region. To the west on the green hills are old forts and castles, echoes of past ages when this region was fought over. Beneath the peaceful exterior lies complex histories.
A quick stop in Strasbourg, not enough to see the town, but just enough time to get the best baguette sandwich I have ever had. Onward to Nancy, and a quick sleep in a cozy hotel overlooking the rooftops.