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Nightmare Train to Rome

Author: Ted H.
Date of Trip: September 2011

This summer we spent a few days in Paris before boarding a Med cruise out of Rome. We thought it would be “fun” to take the Atresia Night Train from Paris to Rome, spending the night on the train. Wrong.

Well . . . The train reflects the declining spirit and economy of Italy. The first thing we noticed was that it was filthy on the outside (we had to wash our own windows while in the station in order to see out). The cars are getting old, and while we had the best accommodations, they were spartan. The air conditioning was barely able to keep up so we had to open the window to get fresh air. This lead to a very noisy ride and prevented the shade from being drawn. We had a choice, no air but quieter, or having air and unremitting noise and lights flashing by all night. The community bathrooms in our car were dirty and lacking toilet paper.

The track in France was wonderful, smooth and quiet. However, once in Italy the train was a lurching, noisy monster. The Italian engineers are not adept at smooth operation in any sense, and the “schedule” is only a rough guideline. For example, at 3:00 am the train stopped in some nearly abandoned station for over an hour! Of course, despite breakneck speeding at times, we were late arriving in Rome.

Our cabin attendant was generally hanging out in the bar/dinning car with his cohorts and unable to furnish us with the promised coffee and croissant in the morning (let alone replenish the toilet paper). While providing no service, he did manage to bust into our tiny cabin several times while we were dressing the the morning, only to tell us that he had no coffee for us. He did provide us with a packaged pop-tart fashioned in the shape of a croissant as our “breakfast.” We found a coffee urn in the dining car only to be told it was for the crew, not the passengers. Oh, and they had no ice, none whatsoever. Finally, the equipment was not in good repair, the automatic vestibule doors that keep out the hammering noises of the wheels were out of order and did not close. Never again.

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