Day 16 – train travel to Iseo – 6-8-17

I enjoyed my last breakfast at my hotel and then went out for a walk, spent some time in the beautiful Cathedral, and finally took a quick walk through the Mercato Albinelli one more time before returning to my hotel to check out and take a taxi to the train station.

This would be another three train travel day. I had a reservation on a Frecciargento train departing from Bologna at 11:45. My original plan was to take the 10:48 train from Modena, arriving in Bologna at 11:20.

I arrived at the Modena train station in time to take an earlier train but of course that train was running late. It still arrived though earlier than the 10:48 train. This regional train was a small  train and was pretty empty. The ticket checker came around and checked all of our tickets before the train left Modena and arrived at the Piazzale Ovest area of the Bologna train station at 11 am. I missed a train years ago from Bologna to Mantova because I was not aware of the Piazzale Ovest train area. I have since learned that the Ovest train area in a station usually is reserved for smaller regional trains.

I had almost 50 minutes before my next reserved train departed. I took a few photos, dug out a 1 euro coin to use the bathroom, and then realized that my train was departing from a new platform area now used for many of the high speed trains stopping at this station. This new area is almost like its own train station with a lobby area, etc.

To reach my train platform, I had to take three very scary escalators. I say scary because I had 2 rolling bags to take on these escalators. I hesitated and let many others go in front of me before I finally got the courage to get on the first escalator. Once I was on it, I was fine. It was just that first step!

It wasn’t just 3 escalators in a row going down, but after reaching the bottom of each escalator, you had to walk a while before taking that next escalator. I looked at the second escalator and just couldn’t do it. I searched and searched and finally found the elevator for this part of the journey.  Same thing happened for the 3rd escalator. I once again tried to get on it but chickened out. It took me a few more minutes but I finally found that third elevator. There definitely needs to be better signs in that train station!  -It turned out to be a very good thing that I had a lot of time between my two train connections.

The Frecciargento train I took was like a very “worn” Frecciarossa train. I still received a little bottle of water and a package with juice, a paper cup, cookies, a hand wipe. I sat in a 1st class carriage. The train was not very full and I had plenty of room for my luggage.

When we arrived at the Brescia train station, I was delighted to find an elevator on my binario (train platform). The final train I would be taking was another regional train. I went in search for the new green stamp machines that are now used at train stations to validate my ticket. I could not find any I but did find two older looking yellow ones. I was a little confused at first seeing that they said Trenord on them, but then realized that I was taking a Trenord train.  I later found out that all regional trains that travel through this station are now Trenord trains. The Trenord railway company is now the company that operates all regional passenger trains in the Lombardia region.

train travel Brescia, Italy, June, 2017

My tiny 2-car train departed at the Ovest area of this train station. It was already sitting there when I arrived. The train was pretty crowded with students. I was lucky to find a seat. As it left Brescia, it traveled through the beautiful Franciacorta area. I took a photo through the dirty train window of the vineyards.

This train provided no info/announcements for any of the stops and many of the train stations were so small that it was impossible to know what train station the train was stopping at when looking out the window unless you happened to be seated next to the window right where the tiny sign on the station was located.

Prior knowledge of the area/train stops and a list of stops was pretty important in order to not miss your station. Even with the use of the Rail Planner Eurail/Interrail app, I still asked after every stop to make sure I did not miss my stop! The train was running later and later after each stop so I could not depend on the time that my train was supposed to arrive in Iseo.

As the train became more and more behind as it stopped at each station, I eventually went to sit in the area between the two cars. One guy got off at the wrong stop. He got on my train and talked to one of the train guys about his situation. He was told that he could either stay on the train until the last stop (about 30 minutes after my stop) when the train would return back to Brescia, to reach his stop OR he could get off the train and then wait for the train to finish its route and return back towards Brescia, get back on the train, and then get off at his stop. Either way, it was going to take about an hour to reach his stop! This entire exchange made me even more nervous about missing my stop. I had not regrets sitting in the area between the 2 cars, and asked people the name of each stop as they got on the train and even poked my head out to be sure so I would not miss my train stop in Iseo.

The Iseo train station turned out to be one of the bigger train stations on the route. Even so, there was no underpass. Instead everyone walked across the tracks after departing the train to reach the station. This train station did not even have a ticket machine. You had to go to the bar to purchase a train ticket. There also were not any taxis waiting at this train station.

**I usually plan out my walking routes from the train station to my accommodation in advance, but planned to take a taxi instead this time. I never imagined that there would not be any taxis at the station.

I started down the main street from the station, using google maps on my phone to find my way. I did not get very far before a very nice woman with a little dog stopped her car and started talking to me. She insisted on giving me a ride. I really was fine with my bag on wheels/piggy back system with my 2nd bag attached to my main bag, but she kept insisting.

She was driving a little car and had a medium size dog with her. She crammed my bags into her car and off we went as she input the address of my accommodation into her GPS. We drove right by the pretty bushes with water fountains soon after we left the train station. I recognized this landmark and knew it was not far from the lake. If only she dropped me off there (as it turns out it was about a 2 minute walk from where I would be staying).

Iseo, Lago d'Iseo, Italy, June, 2017

I have visited Iseo many times before for the day with my friends from Coccaglio. I could tell that she was driving away from the lake but she was from the area and so I figured she must have known where she was going. We drove all around the area and eventually she stopped the car and told me this was as close as she could get because cars were not allowed any further. She really was very nice to give me a ride.

I turned on google maps again and started to follow the little arrow. I could not have taken more than 10 steps when I met an older woman who wanted to help. She sent me up this big hill by the castle telling me this was the best way to go (it was not). As I continued on my way, following that little arrow on my phone, I ran into another man who wanted to help. He took out his phone and did a search and then gave me more directions, sending me another way. Everyone was so kind and seemed to be very concerned that I had so many bags (even though I did not and they were very manageable). I also was not in a rush except for the fact that I really needed to use the bathroom! I continued to follow the directions the man gave me and ended up running right back into him! Iseo really is a maze of streets. My apartment/hotel ended up being right near where we ran back into each other a second time.

When I finally arrived, I gave the owner my passport and then was given a tour of my suite. I was staying at this place called Apartment/Hotel Borgolago Suites. It was pretty much an apartment with a dishwasher, stove, dishes, pots, pans, etc., as well as a combined washer/dryer, but there was also someone in the lobby most times of the day to provide assistance and someone came to clean the suite every morning. It was huge and very comfortable.

The owner started to provide me with instructions on how to work everything. At one point, I interrupted her and told her that I really needed to use the bathroom. She went back down to the lobby to finish processing my paperwork and then returned with my passport. After that, we finished the tour. The most important part was the combined washer/dryer instructions (more about this later in this post).

After my tour and instructions were complete, I unpacked and then went back down to the lobby to inquire about a place to mail some postcards (one of those postcards just arrived last week!). She walked down the street with me and pointed out where a mailbox was located. I searched for it but could not find it. Instead, I decided to go look for the main post office in the town, which was turned out to be pretty easy to find, to mail my postcards.

All my visits to Iseo in the past have been with friends, so I never had to know how to get anywhere. I spent the next hour or so, trying to orient myself to the town. I also took a bunch of photos down by the beautiful Lago d’Iseo (Lake Iseo).

I also took a bunch of photos of some precious little baby coots down by a boat ramp with a momma and daddy coot watching over them and feeding them.

I love boat rides. I read about an interesting little town called Lovere, which was located at the top of the lake. I stopped in at the tourist information office to inquire about the boats to Lovere but found out that the only boat option would end up giving me just an hour or so in Lovere. That wasn’t too bad but I would also end up spending about 2 hours each way on the boat. That meant very little time in Iseo. I decided to skip the boat ride and spend the following day in Iseo instead.

I was given some recommendations for dinner options in Iseo but was craving pizza. I am very sensitive to gluten and eat gluten free at home. I found some supplements at the health food store before my trip to help me process the gluten. I did pretty well eating pasta and bread while in Italy but did not do so well eating pizza.

I found a place in Iseo that served gluten free pizza. Because I needed to do some laundry, I decided on take out pizza. BAD choice for dinner! The pizza was HORRIBLE!

Back to my laundry… I followed all of the instructions as I remembered them. My laundry ended up being held hostage!

The washer worked and I was able to get the door open at the end of the wash. That was a good thing as I had some things in there that I did not want to go through the dryer. I pushed a bunch of buttons to try to get the dryer to work. Instead, the washer started again AND I could not open the door at the end of the wash. This happened two more times! Finally, I was able to get the dryer to start. My clothes were damp after the dryer finished (I did not choose the 2 hour dryer cycle). I did not dare try to do a second dryer cycle, fearing that the washer instead would start up again. I hung my clothes up to dry instead. It worked out. All of my clothes were dry the following morning. I still had a second wash to do and planned to have a second tutorial the following day.

I walked back down to the lake to take a few sunset photos while my clothes were drying. What a beautiful evening in Iseo!


Next up – Friday in Iseo

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