On Thursday we packed up and hopped the local 5Terre Trenitalia up to Sestri Levante (about 40 minutes). There we switched to the intercity train which would take us to Milano Centrale (Milan’s main downtown rail station). We had e-tickets for a 2nd class cabin and reserved seats on this train. BTW, the Trenitalia website is easy to use for planning routes and purchasing tickets online. The views along the coast especially near Genoa are spectacular along this section of rail, though it’s hard to get a good pic since there are so many tunnels. Just as you line up a shot you’re into a tunnel! As the train turned north away from the sea we passed through even more tunnels, seemed at times there were more tunnels than open rail. Once at Milan Centrale (about 2 hrs from Sestri Levante) we purchased tickets for the Malpensa Express out to the airport. We had reserved a room at the airport Sheraton (on points) for the night. All in all, smooth trip, no issues, even managed to avoid the pickpockets this time!
The train comes into Terminal 1. From there we had a very short indoor walk to the airport hotel.
Next morning we caught our flight on Flybe Airlines to Birmingham, UK. This is one of those small airlines where you board a bus and traipse out to the plane, then walk up a stairway (or ramp) to get on. Turns out my carry on bag was at the limits size-wise for this plane, had some trouble getting it in the overhead. After clearing the alps, two hours later we were landing in Birmingham. Sandy had been through this airport once before, but it was a bit of a challenge figuring out which train we needed to take to get to Rugby. We actually ended up on the wrong train but a very nice Brit helped us out and also showed me the phone app for the train schedules and e-tickets. That helped a lot as we were better able to determine which trains went where. Just a side note, I’m very glad I took Nomadic Matt’s suggestion about T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan when I switched phone carriers. I have free 3G data and texting in 140 countries outside the US. Sweet! So doing things like searching google maps or loading a helpful app is no cost, though sometimes a little slow.
Once we had the right train it was a short ride to the Rugby train station, then a taxi to our hotel. We were staying at a Holiday Inn for two nights (one on my points) since our “flat” wasn’t available until Nov 1. We had a nice British breakfast next morning (sigh, no espresso, going to miss that), roamed around Crick (15 minute walk), walked along the Union Canal (This area has more miles of canals than Venice, dating back to the Roman times. You can rent these narrow canal boats to cruise them. Just upstream of here are 21 locks in series all manually operated.), had a beer at the local pub, and relaxed again. Brits are very friendly!
So on Sunday our host, Mark, picked us up and delivered us to our next home-for-awhile place, The Low Thatched Cottage, located a few miles away in the village of Crick. More on that later…. Ta!