Talk is cheap, but not when you’re on the Eurostar.
It’s 9.25pm and I’m on board the Eurostar Italia. I’m feeling incredibly relaxed, almost too relaxed, but you’d understand why if you were me. This time I actually made my train.
I’m actually sitting in my seat. With my own headrest. My own table. Not on a floor in a cargo carriage, but in the normal person carriage. The train has filled and emptied over the past two hours. Largely filled with Italians (I know I was surprised too) But now a group of Americans have come on board.
I’m not one to stereotype. Okay, yes I am. These guys are loud. Actually they’re louder than loud. They’ve come on in their magenta North Face jackets and Forever 21 jeans and their iPads and even though really really I love America, they make me cringe.
The Italians are watching them. The Italians love watching, don’t they? Almost as much as the French. They look you up and down and back up again. They’re quite judgemental like that. Not that I can talk really. I’ve just stereotyped a group of yanks and their brunette leader (I’ll call her Becky). In my mind Becky works at Walmart and the two guys she’s talking to are called Chip and Bud… so American it hurts.
Becky, clearly excited to be on a high speed train in Europe and not stacking giant value jars of pickles back home, is giving us an Italian lesson, not that we asked for one but she’s talking so loudly you could hear her from Sydney.
“Okay so to say hello you say buongiorno – say it with me. BON JOURN OH!” She spits it out. “Weird word huh. But to say goodbye you say Ciao, CHI-OW. You say it like chow, as in Kitty Chow.”
“Then when you want to say please instead of saying please you say PER FAR VORE RAY. Let’s do it together PER. FAR. VORE. RAY.”
The group repeat PER FAR VORE RAY over and over and over again.
An Italian coughs. I roll my eyes. The group continues with excited learning mixed with a dash of ignorance at both the italian language and the consideration of the travellers around them. Eventually they stop the lesson to take a breather.
A few moments later there’s a squeal from Becky. “Ohmygodyouguys… there’s a cafeteria on board the train! Like, a real Italian cafeteria!”
And just like that, the pack ventures to the cafeteria together, walking while repeating random Italian words.
There’s silence. And not that I could prove it but I swear there was an audible sigh of relief from the other passengers.
That moment of relief passes pretty quickly when Becky, Chip, Bud and another friend return. Cue Becky. “I am SO excited to try this CHEEOCKOLARTA cake! That’s how you say chocolate in Italian, didn’t you know? I don’t know why they don’t just call it chocolate like the rest of the world but wow those Italians can be funny!”
New friend, let’s call her Cindy, pipes up: “But they call things such funny names like LASAGNE and what was that other one? NUTELLA? I mean strange they should just call it something normal, someone really nutty must have come up with that!” Cue giggles from Cindy, Becky and an almost prompted laugh from the boys.
Nobody else in the carriage laughs and in that awkward silence I’m left to reflect on the gravity of Cindy’s comment. She, bearing from the country that’s home to Capt’n Crunch, Tootsie Rolls, Cool Whip and Twinkies is calling Nutella a weird name?
I could continue on with the natterings of the Americans but, well, I’m just plain exhausted from listening. I just heard Becky announce to the group to get their tickets ready for the next train. The 4536.
Oh shit they’re on my next train too. Now how do you ask for a sleeping pill in Italian again?