Monday, August 28, 2017

Paris to Rome by trains (TGV and Frecciarossa)

We booked our online tickets at Loco2 website. They sent our e-vouchers for Paris to Milan trip while they just provided reference numbers for our Milan to Rome trip. Thus you need to make a decent printout of your Paris to Milan ticket while you need to have a copy of your reference number for a paperless ticket from Milan to Rome.

We checked out from our hotel at 5 am and asked our hotel receptionist to arrange a taxi since it would be very inconvenient to walk towards Saint Lazare station with 2 big luggage in tow; the wife was also afraid of homeless persons along the way. In less than 5 minutes our taxi arrived. It charged us additional 5 euro for night trip. From Saint Augustin area to Gare de Lyon we paid 19.50 euro for a 15 min trip.

Upon entering Gare de Lyon we checked the massive LCD screens at Hall 1, we found our train to Milano Porta Garibaldi would leave from Hall 2 so we followed the direction towards Hall 2.

Shops in Gare de Lyon open at 6 am but you can buy chocolates, biscuits, candies and even waffles from vending machines, including coffee.

The platform where our train would depart appeared on the giant LCD screen at around 6:10 am. Our train left at exactly 6:27 am. Locate your coach number at small LCD screen at the entrance of each coaches; don't depend on the painted number on the coach body. Inside, you may leave your big luggage at designated luggage racks while small trolley and bags can be accommodated at overhead compartments. Toilets are at the end of the coach.

A few minutes after the train has left Gare de Lyon, a ticket inspector scanned our printed ticket using a portable scanner.

inside TGV train

After 30 minutes, a train staff started pushing food cart along the aisle. He went around three times during the entire Paris to Milan trip. You can buy hot and cold drinks, alcoholic beverages and sandwiches. In our case, while waiting for our trip we bought a couple of bottled water and sandwich from "RELAY," a convenience shop inside Hall 2 of Gare de Lyon. There is also a bar/cafe coach at the middle and accessible from all coaches.

you can have fresh croissant
As the train approaches small towns it slows down and gain speed once it passes these towns. The train stopped at several selected stations to pickup and unload passengers.

We reached Modane at 10:50 am; it was our last stop in France. Our train stopped for 5 minutes while several armed personnel wearing bulletproof vest entered our coach. While on our way, we were surprised when the two armed personnel, one was a lady, started demanding for our tickets and passports. They also asked how much money we have in our possession though they didn't require us to show physically our money. After they have confirmed that we were genuine tourists and we'd go back to Paris after 5 days in Rome before returning to Philippines they bade us good trip. 

Furthermore, these armed guys asked a black lady and an Arab looking guy to open their luggage located at the luggage rack. It was a bit frightening since these burly armed personnel were conducting inspections and interrogation while the train was traveling inside a long tunnel; it was completely dark outside. My wife asked me in case they'd find somebody who is not supposed to be in the train what they'd do. I told her they might dumped him inside the tunnel while the train was running, LOL.

The armed personnels alighted from the train at next station, Bardonecchia, Italy.

At 11:55 am, our tickets were checked again by a new inspector. 

The train arrived at Milano Porta Garibaldi at 1:48 pm; 2 minutes earlier than schedule. We hurriedly checked the LCD screens for our train. We saw "Frecciarossa 9569" but showing Salermo and not Romano Tiburtini. Nevertheless we knew it was our train. It would arrive at 2:15 pm; meaning we have 3 min to locate and settle down on our seats. However, platform number wasn't shown yet. 

The Italian language was entirely new to us and since we had only 28 minutes layover we immediately asked around for the location of our train. We were directed to the lower floor; soon afterwards we noticed our train's platform number on LCD screen. We searched for platform no 14 with Salermo destination; the LCD screen also showed that the train would pass at Romano Tiburtina station before proceeding to Salermo.

our free snack; the pouch contains refreshing towel, small packet of biscuit and disposable cup

In short, we're able to catch our train to Rome. Here, the coach number is marked at the platform so you know exactly where to wait. As expected, our train stopped for 3 min only. We got a welcome snack; unfortunately, the free wifi wasn't working. A ticket inspector validated our reference number.

The train stopped at several stations and passes at other small towns train stations.

At exactly 5:43 pm we reached Romano Tiburtini station. We followed the exit sign and boarded a waiting white taxi. Yes, taxi in Rome is colored white.

Aside from the interrogation, our trip from Paris to Rome was flawless.

Finally, to have a smooth train trip in Europe I suggest that you follow these basic rules:
- Arrive at least 30 minutes before your trip so as to familiarize yourself in train station.
- Have Euro coins for vending machines if your train will leave early.
- Good quality ticket printout.
- Gadgets for entertainment since there is no wifi inside the train
- If time is of the essence due to tight layover then don't be afraid to ask or request assistance from the train staff or locals.

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