Paris to Milan 2013 - Night Train to Milan
From Paris we were going to Italy via Milan. We decided to take the night train operated by Thello trains which would save time and a night in a hotel. The trains operate from Gare de Lyon in the South-East part of Paris. The journey from Paris to Milan is is over 800km. By train it takes around 7 hours - just great for a good night sleep. We booked a 6 person couchette and I made it a point to book the top bunk.
The cabin is quite small and barely enough for 6 persons. As you begin the journey the bunk beds are set up as normal seats. Once every one decides to sleep the seats are converted into the lower 2 bunks. The top bunk however is a separate bed which is fixed in place and accessed through a small ladder. There is even some space for your luggage. If you have the top bunk, you are not disturbed by whatever happens below so that is the best option if you can get it.
An hour after we left Gare de Lyon, I was well into slumber land. The gentle rattle of the train served as a pretty good sleep-inducer. The train actually crosses into Switzerland before entering Italy. The train conductor will go around to check tickets and collect your passports for the immigration check - for which thankfully you don't need to wake up. The passports will be handed back to you the next morning.
I woke up around 4.00 a.m. - about an hour before we arrive in Milan. When we arrived at Milan Central it was still pitch dark. Milan Central is a handsome Art Deco building with high vaulted ceilings and nice detailing. It is however a nightmare to navigate as the signages are very confusing. It took us more then 30 min to locate the left baggage department to leave our bags. Dealing with the left baggage staff felt like dealing with many of the government departments back home. There was totally no sense of urgency and a simple thing which could have taken 5 min took more then 20 min. Not the best experience when you are still groggy !
Since we had about half a day before our train to Venice, we took the subway to the city centre to have a quick tour of the city.