Thursday, July 9th:
(Continued from my last post about my visit to Parma)...
When my train arrived back in Bologna, the skies were dark. I was tired after a long travel day and after a lot of walking and I did not want to get caught in another rainstorm. I was thankful that I had a bus ticket and knew just where to catch the bus (or so I thought) so I did not have to walk the 20 minutes back to the center of town.
As I walked out of the train station, I had this bright idea to catch the bus that stopped right in front of the train station instead of crossing the busy street and walking a few feet to the left to catch the bus that I took on Tuesday that I knew headed back to the center. I figured the same A bus that stopped in front of the train station headed in the opposite direction was probably close to the end of its run and would naturally turn around once it reached the final stop like a loop and head on back to the center. WRONG!!
Panic started to set in. The buildings started to disappear and the scenery no longer looked like part of the city. Where was I headed? Finally after about 10 minutes, the bus pulled into a park and ride type parking lot. Everyone got off the bus and headed towards their cars. The driver also got off the bus! Oh no! Why oh why did I not cross that street and go to the bus stop I went to on Tuesday.
I had no idea where I was other than most likely somewhere in Bologna. I got out of the bus and went up to the bus driver (who was now smoking a cigarette) and asked him if another bus was coming soon or if this bus was going back to the centro. He told me that either the bus or he or both was on a break (can't remember exactly now and I might have also misunderstood) and the bus would not be going anywhere for 10 minutes.
So here I waited wondering both if the bus would indeed be heading back to the train station and if the bus would be departing in 10 minutes (knowing that time in Italy is not always an "exact science").
This was my lovely view...
A few minutes later a second bus drove up. This bus was empty except for the driver and what appeared to be his girlfriend. My bus driver knew both of them and they all started chatting away. As I waited, I noticed the second bus driver walking over to the toilets. He put a coin in the slot, walked into one of the two doorways, immediately walked back out (my guess was that toilet was disgusting), and then walked into the other doorway. I hoped at that point that I would not be there long enough to need to use one of the toilets myself.
I was not dressed for the cooler weather and goosebumps (or chicken skin as we say here in Hawaii) started to appear. I went back into the bus and waited. My bus driver followed me into the bus (with his cigarette still lit) and decided to strike up a conversation with me. He wanted to know where I was from, if I was traveling alone, etc. etc. (the usual questions). Even though I knew chatting would pass the time and I am usually always happy to practice my Italian, I was not that happy breathing in the cigarette smoke that was now filling the bus. I didn't have much choice though. I did not want to appear rude as he was my only way back to the center and so I chatted.
Ten minutes finally passed and just as it started to rain the bus driver started up his engine. Yay!! On time!! As we pulled up to the bus stop that I should have gone to, the bus driver (who now seemed to be my buddy) asked me which stop I was getting off at and then proceeded to keep me informed as we traveled up Via dell'Indipendenza towards the centro. I really did know just where my bus stop was but since I made the silly mistake of taking a bus going the wrong way, the bus driver probably thought I had no idea where my stop was.
The bus arrived at my stop 10 minutes after leaving the train station (and 30 more additional minutes after taking a little side trip out to the end of the line). I thanked the driver and said goodbye.
Moral of the story… don’t take a bus unless you know just where it is going. I was very lucky that I was not stranded. I was also lucky that this bus driver turned out to be very kind.
After taking a hot shower, I ventured back out into the cool rainy weather and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Divinis thanks to Sandra. She told me about this great farro dish that she ate there while in Bologna. I ordered the same farro dish - Insalata di Farro con Melanzane al Forno, Ricotta fresca e Pomodorini la Menta (farro with eggplant, fresh ricotta, tomatoes, and mint). I only wish I discovered this place earlier in the week.
Despite my little side trip to the park and ride, I had a wonderful day visiting Reggio Emilia for the first time, visiting Parma once again, and eating fabulous food! Oh how I wish I was there right now!!