venerdì 20 giugno 2008

Commute


Having spent the past year and a half living a five minute drive from my office, I am now back to living the commuter life, and - mamma mia - it’s a shock to the system. When I first arrived in Northern Italy, I lived for nine months in Bergamo, which is only 40 kilometres from Milan, but on the slowest train line in the western world, so I had a two-hour round trip each day and permanent dark circles under my eyes. I had arrived from a three-year experience in Sardinia, where I drove everywhere and made time everyday for a dip in the sea. Not surprisingly, it took me a very long time to get accustomed to the city commute, and having had a two year break, the past few days have served as a reminder as to why I moved to the centre of Milan in the first place…
I’m not a morning person for a start. My ideal sleep routine is from 2 am to 10am – and I know this to be true because whenever I have a period of time where I don’t have to go to bed or get up at any particular time, this is the routine which my body automatically adopts. Hearing the alarm at 6:40 is not fun at all. I have to say, however that I find the train journey itself rather relaxing. Much as my classic English personality generally steers me away from situations involving close body contact with sweaty Italians with particularly sharp elbows, once the initial dash to the station and fight for a seat is over, it’s nice to be able to lean against the headrest and have a nap or get into a good book. The downside is that when there are strikes or delays, there’s nothing you can do except be inconvenienced, and you have to fall in with Trenitalia’s timetable – bad news for the colleagues who seem to get a kick out of staying in the office until eight o’clock, attempting to drag you down with them. I tried the car alternative on Monday and Tuesday, but spent an average of three hours completing the round trip on both days, such is the chaos to be found on any road that leads into, out of, or around Milan at pretty much any time of day. One thing I do like about train travel is that you get to observe the world around you, listen to people’s conversations and people-watch without fear of recrimination. The closely-packed seats and over-crowding can even turn into a learning experience, even if my most profound example so far was spotting the exact shoes that I want this morning, and asking their owner where she bought them. OK, so it’s not learning in the most academic sense, but at least it passes the time…..

7 commenti:

Kataroma ha detto...

I spent 3 years of high school and 4 yours of university doing a 1 hour commute each way (by train) from my mum's house in the suburbs of Sydney so I know how you feel. It used to make me sad to think how I could have been using those hours.

Now I have a half hour door-to-door commute via metro to work. Way better. But on the other hand, we live in a tiny apartment!

Emmina ha detto...

At the end of the day, there's always a sacrifice to be made. Either you live within spitting distance of the centre, where you have to put up with the cost and inconvenience of city life, or you opt for a quiet life in the country, and pay the price in other ways. Where you are in Rome I suspect any sort of commute would be even more traumatic than in Milan!

Dame Aurélie ha detto...

Until last year, when I was living in Brussels, I used to go to the office by bike (20 minutes, but sweaty arrival because of nice hill at the end), or by bus (2' walk, 5' bus A, 5' waiting, then 7' bus B and 2' walk). By car if really I needed to (15').

Now... to go to Milan, I take two trains (Galbiate-Lecco 10' and Lecco-Milano 50', with in between at least 20' of waiting)... As I am between two jobs, I don't know yet whether I'll be in Milan or not, but I have to say that I'm not looking forward to it!
:-s

By the way, congrats for the move, you made it! Where are you exactly? Pavia? I've heard it's a nice place, I should go check it out...

Caro ha detto...

Hi Emmina, just stumbled across your blog, I'll catch up on your archives when I have a chance. Where have you moved to? I'm living in Mortara (which is exactly as bad as it sounds), commuting to Milan too. It's such a huge chunk out of the day and Trenitalia are spawn of the devil. My sympathies!

Emmina ha detto...
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Emmina ha detto...

Caro,
I'm south of Pavia in a village just outside Casteggio. The area itself is lovely - hill-covered vineyards and all that jazz... The commute is not! At the moment I'm tending towards Trenitalia for the simple reason that it takes me twice as long if I take my chances on the tangenziale!! Mortara is 50km from where I am. So how did you come to be living in the wilds of Pavia??

Caro ha detto...

Sorry for commenting on such an old post, but I forgot to check back again and couldn't remember your blog address! My other half's from near Mortara, I met him while living in Casale Monferrato for 6 months. I then spent a year in Modena and another in Pavia (loved Pavia), and I've been in Mortara for almost three years. I've been to the Oltrepò a few times, it's a lovely area.