We had reservations the morning of the 27th for a train from Munich straight to Venice. Straight shot, no train changes, and straight through the alps, something we were all looking forward to. We got to the train station with about 30 minutes to spare, and the train pulled in about 20 minutes before departure. We walked the length of the train to the car where we had our seat reservations… Or where it was supposed to be. Car 258, 257, 256…. 255? Wheres 255? Car 255, the car that our seats were in, wasn’t there. The train just stopped at 256, missing a car. What’s more, there were several others in the same predicament. Leaving the family with the luggage on the platform, I walked up to the conductor to ask her if she knew anything about it–sometimes, they add another car in the station. “Don’t know, I think they lost it.” They lost it? Please explain to me how one loses a 20 ton train car. She didn’t seem to know much more than that, so I then pounced on the lone TrenItalia employee walking through the train, who was also being mobbed by others missing their seat reservations. “Excuse me, we have reservations for car 255, and there isnt a car 255.” “Yeah, I know.” “So, is one coming?” “No.” “Um, we paid for reservations–where is the car?” “Dunno, they lost it.” “So then where are we supposed to sit?” “Good question.” At which point he turned around and left. Eventually we had no choice but to board the train, grabbing free seats in the hope that the people that had reservations in them wouldn’t show up. We lucked out, getting an almost empty cabin until about 2 hours away from Venice, when two of us were kicked from our seats and had to move to another cabin further down the car. I asked another employee during the ride what happened to the car, and all I got was a shrug and “kaputt.” I guess that’s what you get for riding on an Italian train.
Aside from having to spend the whole ride not knowing whether or not we’d be kicked from our seats and have to stand the whole 7 hours, it was an excellent ride. The train took us through the heart of the alps, and we all gawked at the snow covered peaks towering above us the whole way as our train wound its way through the mountains. We eventually got to Venice roughly on time, and checked into our hotel, the Hotel Abbazia. Tucked into a side alley just around the corner from the train station, it was a great little place. Nice rooms, good service, great prices, and the location meant that we didn’t have to schlep our luggage all over Venice. We ate dinner in an excellent trattoria around the corner, gorging ourselves and enjoying the excellently smooth wine. Afterwards, a quick walk to digest, then back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.
Our plan for the day was to basically just get lost in Venice. We were only there for one full day, and there weren’t any individual sights that we just had to see, so we decided to go more for the experience of Venice, and get ourselves lost. The wonderful thing about Venice is that there are so many side streets and alleys that are off the beaten tourist track. Some of them are so narrow that only one person can walk down them at a time, and if someone else comes, one of them must back out so the other can pass. All of this makes for a wonderful atmosphere. There are also the canals. While the Grand Canal was impressive, the ones I like the best were the small ones, winding their ways lazily through the town, seeing very little traffic. Walking along these canals, especially on the smaller bridges off the main traffic areas, one can imagine the city as it must have been hundreds of years ago. And then there are the colors. Everything seemed to be colored the most beautiful shades, from the pastel buildings to the bright boat covers to the turquoise water. I loved this, and took many photos to capture it.
Eventually we made our way to Saint Mark’s Square, the main square in town. Everyone would immediately recognize it from countless movies, TV shows, even commercials (think the diamond commercials). Also, the ever present pigeons. As many people were crammed into that square overlooking the lagoon, there were more pigeons. And the pigeons there had become so used to people, that you could almost step on them before they would fly off–and I even saw them landing on several people. There were tons of children running around chasing them, providing plenty of entertainment. We then moved on to walk alongside the lagoon, admiring the views of the buildings on the other side, with the gondolas hawking rides to everyone. This area of town is the main tourist drag, and unfortunately, after seeing the square, there was little else there except for Gucci and Prada stores–nothing any of us wanted to see, though we did see an excellent mime who was looking like a statue and scaring people as they walked by.
We soon made our way back to the other end of town, near our hotel, and ate a very late lunch, filling ourselves again on good food and good wine. After a quick break, my dad, mom, and I went back out so that my mom could look at some of the interesting shops she had seen along the way. I ended up buying a nice black and white photo of the lagoon, and my mom ended up with several pieces of glass jewelry. By then, everything was starting to close, so we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the trip to Rome the next day.
As always, more pictures in the photo gallery, and check out my Flickr page for even more.