Saturday, July 31, 2010
I can hear my cousin Freddie's exact words that July when we boarded the overnight train from Geneva, Switzerland to Venice, Italy:
"Sis, don't worry about validating your Eurail pass. It will be the middle of the night. No one is going to check"
Being my first trip to Europe, I wasn't about to argue with him. However, a few hours later when the train stopped in the Alps and I was removed from it by French- speaking officials and brought to a small room at the police station, I wished I had obeyed the law.
Freddie's girlfriend, Tina (who's now his wife), came along with me because she could speak some French.
"You're not French!" the officer yelled from behind his desk.
"The last time I checked, I was," I replied, pointing to the surname on my passport.
Next thing I knew, he slammed the door shut and Tina and I were standing in the office with three policemen, over a foolish Eurail Pass. They laughed amongst themselves, calling us stupid American girls, and after some deliberation, said they'd validate my pass and let me go for $100 in U.S. money.
So, I took out some of the money I had budgeted for the vacation (I'd only been there two days), paid up, and they sent Tina and I on our way.
What a wonderful introduction to the Alps! Next time, I'll bring a St. Petronilla medal. She is the patron saint of travellers in the mountains and thought to be a Roman citizen born in the 1st century.
Legend says she was the daughter of St. Peter and was so drop-dead gorgeous that she had to be locked away from suitors. Several centuries later, it was decided she was either a relative or his maid.
Other accounts state that St. Pertonilla either refused to marry one guy and starved herself to death or was martyred.
Either way, she is buried at St. Peter,s in the Vatican, Chapel #20 to be exact. Her feast day is May 31.