Thoughts in transit
When you travel there are those inevitable intervals where
you have to wait for your train, plane or whatever your onward mode of
transport might be. Sometimes it can be annoying, but for me it’s the perfect
opportunity to plot up and watch life go by. This summer I have travelled around Europe on trains a lot, so I've not been short of occasions to indulge in this activity.
I recently spent a pleasant couple of hours in transit, waiting for a train in the town of Brescia, about an hour east of Milan. It was lunchtime, so to check out my options of eateries, I did a couple of laps of the square. As I meandered through throngs of school kids it struck me that they might have been loitering had this not been Italy. What these kids were doing was more like semi-vogueing with fashionable sunglasses, melodic chat and energetic gesticulating.
Choosing a traditional trattoria, I settled down. It turned out to be the perfect vantage point and I had a front row seat to the theatre of daily life.
I’m always amazed at the lunchtime habits of southern Europeans - they seem to be able to put away a lot of food and an impressive amount of wine for that time of the day. At a table by the window sat a tiny old man, his face deeply lined by the sun and clearly a regular customer engaging in his daily ritual. Not one, not two, not three but four courses later and he was still going. Where was he putting all this food?
Caught up in the moment, I ended up having a feast myself, washed down with wine. I figured I might as well blend in – after all I was on my way to Rome and when in (nearly) Rome….
Fed, watered and wined I couldn’t resist a little loitering of my own, although I'm sure my style paled in comparison to the natives. Lively, colourful and bathed in golden September sunshine the square had a fairground feel, despite the distinct lack of rides. Perhaps the sound of Italian spoken and the fully-fledged flamboyance all around was why. Who knows, but it was one of those transient times that felt like a memory as I lived it.
I love those moments in travelling.