Roy makes us tea before we leave, and we jump in the car to Como. We make really good time till the last two miles. Then it's panic time. We jump out of the car and make it to the track that is thankfully the closest to the station ( and we don't have to go up and down steps to get to it). The train arrives about 2 minutes later. We get on and we are fine. We see Jo standing on the platform as we go by.
We get to Milan and want to grab something to eat. Of course the café is Italian time and takes forever. First class is at the very end of train, the furthers from the station. As we are walking to first class, they say it is leaving so we have to jump on first class and walk through 3 2nd class cars, 1 bar car and 1 first class car. We get to our seats and they have the heat on, so Bill is complaining it's roasting hot. We are not in the United States and the standards are different. He goes to stand between cars. The conductor comes and tells me that all the cars are the same. Evidently he has been complaining. Jo said the Italians do not like to be cold.
This is the nicest train we have been on. Free drinks, peanuts, chocolates, newpapers. There is some kind of sound system but I haven't pulled out my headphones to see what is on it. Bill has finally fallen asleep so no complaining for a bit.
We get to Pisa and Marco is there to meet us. He drops us at the Leaning Tower so Bill can see it. We walk back to the car and attempt to find birds. It is just the wrong month for birds.
That night we go to the hotel and get checked in. The hotel is lovely, off the beaten path and has birds chirping! The hotel manager tells Marco of a place we can go to find birds. He tells us that restaurants are not open for dinner until 8. We will be pumpkins long before then. So Marco takes us to a bar and we see pizza next door, so we opt for pizza and go back to the hotel early. The pizza was good.
Day 8 the mountains and back to Milan
We spend the day in the mountains and don't see much. There are marble quarries, a sculptor's house, lovely views but not many birds. We get a sandwich from a place in the middle of nowhere. The bread was fabulous! And so was the cheese. We then go to a city park where there are some birds.
We have Marco drop us at the train station. Everyone there is obsessed with trains that you don't have to change. We are into what gets us there the fastest. Marco wanted us to take one train to get to Pisa when if we took a train an hour and a half later, we got there at the same time. So leaving we got on a train leaving an hour earlier. And if I had not have made a mistake we would have gotten there an hour earlier than the one Marco wanted us to go on. I didn't read the tickets and we got off at the wrong Genova station. But another train was leaving for Milan, and it was only ½ hour longer.
Marco was very expensive not that great of a guide.
When we got to Milan I needed to change some money, so while I was doing that Bill went off to feed the pigeons. I turn around and he is gone. Ends up the cops tried to arrest him because he walked away from his bag. He didn't have his passport because I had it. I had no idea where he was. Fortunately someone else saw what happened and they let him go. We then hop to the bus to the airport. At the airport we take a cab to our hotel because it's late and we don't want to wait for the shuttle, which probably was not running anyway.
We get to the Holiday Inn Express at Milan Malpensa airport. They tell us the shuttle doesn't run until 5:45 and we need to leave at 5. So they will call us a cab. We get to our room and we can't keep the lights on. I can't see to use the phone and have to walk down to the desk. You have to leave your key in a slot which they didn't tell us when we checked in. Then we can't get the air to come on. I call the desk several times before they answer. They tell us we have to shut the window that we never opened and they will set the thermostat. By this time was have 5 hours before we need to be at the front for the cab. We are not happy. The room was nice and the beds comfortable.
Day 9 Taxi to the plane to the plane to the bus to the car
We take the cab and it's 18 Euros! The one the night before was only 10 and we stayed at the hotel because it was supposed to be free! And they were sending one group on the shuttle. We won't be staying there again.
We get to Paris and walk to the other terminal. There were no buses this time! We had 2 hours before planes and after going through customs and security again, we walk straight into the line for our plane. So no shopping, again! We get on the plane and are pleasantly surprised that we almost fit in our seats and are not as uncomfortable was before. The food was good again!
We get to Houston and our bags are the last ones off the carousel. We get home and the cat sitter did a fabulous job. The cats were happy!! I got unpacked and the laundry done before we died in bed at 6 pm! And when we got home, we had an invitation to Moscow!! We are so excited!!