One of the first scientific principles we taught the kids was perspective – that things look smaller the further away they are. It’s a peculiarly useful idea when you look at travel arrangements.

Perspective is important
Perspective is important

When we set our itinerary many months ago we blithely decided to go from Poitiers to Cinque Terre on the North West coast of Italy. It didn’t look all that far on the map. And it isn’t. But it turns out there are no direct trains.

When we booked the tickets we, again blithely, decided to catch an overnight train. “It’ll be fine” we thought. It’s only now we’ve embarked, that we’re close up, that it’s looking like a bigger undertaking.

Last night we had a lovely dinner in a local French restaurant, Le Cheval Blanc. The restaurant is beside the river in a the town of Vouille. It was a very French meal which meant the adults enjoyed it and the kids hardly ate a thing until they got to dessert. I had foi gras, tournados of canard, a cheese course and a tasty dessert that was not quite what I expected from the menu.

Eating out did mean we had a very late night and Callum and I managed to cap that with an unfortunately early start this morning. Not sure why given this last week has been one of the most comfortable beds I’ve had in ages. On the positive side of the ledger that should mean we have an even chance of sleeping on the train tonight.

This morning we saw Uncle Bob and the Grandparents off at the station and then spent a couple of final hours sitting and playing in the garden before heading back to the station ourselves after dropping off the car. We now have a train from Poitiers to Paris Montparnasse; a quick change to Paris Bercy where we get an overnight train South to Milan. We arrive in Milan at 5:30am tomorrow and immediately change to another train to head to Genoa. Finally we get another train to take us to Manarola, although we think there might be yet another change involved in this leg.

While I’m sure it will al be absolutely fine, it certainly seems a bigger undertaking when you’re staring it in the face; perhaps especially after spending such a relaxing few days lounging about in the countryside. Or perhaps because Declan has already issued his warning “You’re going to see grumpy Declan tomorrow morning!”.

Declan isn't grumpy yet
Declan isn’t grumpy yet

You’d think we’d learn, but we’ve already got several other legs coming up which have run to complex changes and overnight legs. But they’re far enough away that they still look small and distant, for the moment at least.

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