The Milano Train Station, The Strike

    If I remember correctly, someone once told me that pigeons are one of the dirtiest of animals. Well, let me tell you something--I wholeheartedly agree. They are definitely the funkiest, most pitiful little god-forsaken creatures ever to inhabit the face of Earth. Yes, it may seem like I possess a rather harsh opinion of these poor defenseless little birdies or even that I'm somewhat biased. Well, you know what, I openly admit it. Would you like to know why? Well, I'll be more than happy to tell you why.
    It all stems from a perfectly lovely afternoon on the day of March 23rd in a simply darling little place named the Milan Train Station (or as we now call it-The Train Station From Hell). After arising relatively earlier in the day to catch a local train, we arrived in Novara, which completed the first leg of our travels to Verona, the scheduled location of that day's adventure. But we arrived only to face the first of our misfortunes….Alas!! A train strike!! With that train strike came our first canceled train. In a caravan of Jordache luggage, computer equipment, Hilfiger, Adidas, and Nike gym bags (including my neon orange Puma bag) and the ever present food bag (maintained for that foreseen time of starvation), the group paraded through the streets of Novara to another station. After asking a French man for directions and feigning as stupid tourists, we boarded a highly decorative train (courtesy of the artistic talents of local ruffians) and bound for Milan.
    In a short while we arrived in Milan and headed straight to the station. Plopping our junk in various heaps throughout the spacious and ornate lobby area, some sat down and waited while others ventured out with Mrs. Hott in search of the toilet. As Mr. O'Connor paced around keeping guard, we all watched as not one or two but three of our trains to Verona were canceled. This all thanks to the silly train operators need to exert their rights through their only form of persuasive protest-a strike. So upon seeing the dismal future of our day, the group relocated upstairs and cluttered up a moderate portion of the waiting area. Foreseeing the hours of waiting before us, our fearless leaders allowed the group to go off and wonder about the station as they tried to amend the situation. I first headed towards the potty where I discovered I not only didn't have the convenience of a flushable commode, but I was also expected to pay for my toilet paper, which turned out to be no more than a flimsy little tissue. Poor Brandy was not informed of this prior to entering the stall, but we won't go there. I ate some delicious ice cream and played cards with a small group for the duration of the wait while others listened to their stereos or slept upon the cold hard floor underneath bundles of bags and coats.
    But let me not forget the most traumatic event of this day--the reason why pigeons are now the bain of my existence. When our group ventured up the stairs to the boarding area of the station, we quickly discovered the over-abundance of those winged rats. Some of the more underexposed country bumpkins of group found these miserable creatures to be highly entertaining and proceeded to try and feed them with leftover potato chips from the food bag. As expected the birds came flocking toward us and one member of the group remarked, "You better watch out that they don't poop on you." Too late!! Only instants later a soft thud was heard by those near me and was solely felt by myself. Plop! There it was. A fresh creamy green streak of pigeon feces smearing down the back of my coat. Being an easily excitable person when it comes to bodily fluids, I flipped out and tore my coat off. As several people sympathetically put it, it got me good. As imagined, I was irate and screamed at everyone especially those who incited the incident, but I was only met with uncontrollable laughter and mocking. Therefore, I turned my bitterness and anger to the direct source of my strife-the pigeons. I hated them. I loathed them. I despised them.
    Debbie finally took pity on me and helped me wipe my poor jacket off with baby wipes. Thankfully it cleaned up good as new. However, I vowed that no pigeon would ever come within 100 feet of me again. You can imagine my dismay when we went to Saint Mark's in Venice the next day and we were inundated with pigeons, but I escaped unscathed.
    Finally we did catch an express train to Verona after waiting five hours at the station. All of us piled in one car filling up the cabins and halls. Emily and I had our own little psychotic giggling fit, induced by a combination of exhaustion, shame and our odd Italian cabin mates, and eventually we arrived in Verona. The plans for that day, including seeing Juliet's Balcony, had by then fallen through because we were so late. We went straight to Lonigo and then home with our second host family. I immediately bathed when I got to my host home. Scrubbing and scolding the skin off my body, I attempted to wash away the filth of the pigeons, but the lingering memory still remains with me even to this day. It's certainly a time, a place, and a little birdy I soon won't forget nor will my exchange mates allow me to.
    But don't get me wrong. I don't despise all trains in Italy. In fact, most really weren't that bad. They were very comfortable, and along with those fine Mercedes buses, they provided me with some of my most fulfilling naps. Besides they are very convenient and relatively economical. It's just the Milan Train Station that will forever go down in infamy. In the end, my final resolution is that there will most definitely be rice thrown at my wedding. I hope you pigeons choke on it!


Kristine Brabson