Trains, languages, & the ukulele

Ahhh, I love trains.  Rocking back and forth, lulling you into a peaceful slumber; trains will always be my favorite mode of transportation.


In the U.S. trains are rarely efficient enough to consider for long-distance travel.  Europe however, has made an art of high speed trains intersecting the countries at bargain basement prices.  I paid $160 USD to get from Paris, France to Padova, Italy with a good night’s sleep and a complimentary glass of bubbly.  Food was available for purchase but they did not have anything gluten free so I relied on snacks purchased at the station.  I do believe the Thello is the only overnight train from France to Italy with sleeper cars.  I paid a bit extra to get a 3-person bunk, with a lockable door, sharing only with those of the same gender.  I must give credit where credit is due.  The bulk of my information on how to navigate European trains came from The Man in Seat 61.  His site is also how I decided upon the Eurostar from London to Pars.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr. 61; they were both lovely rides.

The Thello was filled with the most interesting people I’ve ever met on a train.  In my cabin was the beautiful Del Rey, an American ukulele player on tour that you see in the above photo (yes, that’s her real name) and an Italian woman whose name I never could catch.  Del Rey travels the world on tour playing and teaching the ukulele; utterly fascinating.  Take a look at her silver ukulele here.  Had I known it looked that cool, I would have insisted on seeing it.  She is yet another example of doing what you love and the means will follow.

My Italian roommate and I sat together in the dining car for a bit with two Cuban-American gentlemen.  Our roundtable of an English, Spanish, and Italian conglomerate discussion was an exercise in trying to decipher meanings and translations.  I was the least adept at the table.  Considering I was heading into Italy with only a smattering of Italian, it’s a good thing I’m not easily intimidated.  Immersion is the best way to learn a language, right?

Here are a few photos I snapped of the sleeper car.


The bunks and ladder are down.  Under the shelf/coats on the right is one place to put luggage.  When folded up, the bottom bunk turns into a couch and the others fold to the wall.


Luggage storage by the top bunk.











*Tiny* closet with sink, hand towels, and a few toiletries.  It’s currently blocked by the ladder but it serves its purpose.

I can’t imagine a four-person sleeper would have been nearly as comfortable.  There are a few things to remember when riding the Thello:

  1. Bring only one suitcase.  There really isn’t room for more.
  2. Know that they will come to take up your passport.  As hard as it is to hand that over, you can’t refuse.  Theoretically, they are getting your passport stamped as you go through each country.  Mine wasn’t stamped though.  I guess they take them in case the border agents wish to do a random inspection?
  3. Be quick!  When they get to your stop you will have much less time than you have on an American train.  I get the feeling if you fail to get off at the right stop you are simply out of luck.  Be up, ready, and have your bags ready to disembark when your stop is approaching.

Have fun!

Categories: Italy, Padova, Paris, Trains, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I love trains too (should be obvious from my blog name) and I adore sleeper trains (even though they aren’t the most comfortable) and I’m a big fan of The Man in Seat 61 as well. 🙂 Happy travels!


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