This is NOT what we expected
Ok guys, so the next leg of our trip is the night train from Paris to Venice hopping to get there in plenty of time allowing for our mammoth baggage and get ourselves nice and sorted for this a really enjoyable night on the overnight train…..We boarded with about ½ hour to get sorted and pack away our luggage safely away in some sort of baggage compartment that we’d enjoyed on the eurostar etc… however our dreams were shortlived when we boarded the squashiest grottiest train imaginable…… we were booked on a couchette which is a 6 berth comp with pull down beds for a cosy nod-off cruising through the swiss alps!
You get very little notice at train stations when you travel in France….you can be waiting there for ages then they announce only 20 minutes before the train leaves………….then a mad dash to be seated quickly before the train takes off….doesn’t leave much time when we have 7 weeks of luggage, backpacks and a few groceries.
( wine, oil, vegemite(!),chocolates, tea, coffee and chocolates!)
When we finally find the right cabin we all poured in (literally) along with 5 huge cases and of course, who should be sitting there innocently, then a young Italian man…very well dressed and looking very calm up to that point!!! Can you imagine the look on his face when the 5 of us confronted him….he was positively shocked…5 Australian women and about 10 tonnes of luggage with no where to put it!!!
And his name?
Poor, poor Marco!
That was about all we could say to the poor bloke…he was so cute and tried so hard to help us in any way he could…he sat very quiet and still while he could then buried himself into a book to avoid making eye contact with the women he was about to spend the whole night with !!!! We’re not quite sure who was more uncomfortable….?
We struggled as we could, made requests to be moved, upgraded, anything really…even to take it inturns to sit or sleep!!
Oh, what a long night ahead……. And it was!!! Somehow,a few of us got a few hours sleep….god,knows how….claustrophobia +++++ and the smell coming from the train toilet was becoming increasingly nauseating……
Oh, the joys of travel!!!!!
At 9.30 the next morning we arrived in Venice after passing through Switzerland overnight….I did actually catch a glimpse of Lausanne and ? Geneva as we passed thru…it’s magical to see pretty fairy lights whilst squashed in a overnight train…still, at least I can say I saw parts of Switzerland….
Note for future travelling……1st class or travel during the day so at least you can see stuff!
Venice is absolutely beautiful and as pretty as you can imagine- we hopped a vaporetto from the Station, basically it’s a waterbus that travels around the canals there.
100s and 100s of islands around Venice and 415 bridges in Venice itself….we got some fantastic advice from Lynette( Rob Wartons sister) who is well traveled in matters of Venice…don’t drag big suitcases with so many bridges…..so glad we heeded her advice and de-canted some basics into a small bag each- well, enough for 3 days there and headed off searching for our accom. We were booked into Foresteria Valdese which is a Monestery Stay in the heart of Venice( thoroughly recommended! Cheap,basic and very clean-perfect for families) We had a dormitory style 5 bed room on the 2nd floor which had a view directly over the canal below….
What a strange place it is…..aside from the noise of the people.with no cars and only canal traffic, its an incredibly quiet place- the lap of the water with canal boats is lovely. It’s a really clean city and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t smell like so many people had warned us…the weather has been brilliant…so lucky with sunny,warm,spring days everywhere we go….
It’s a city geared for Tourism….Oh my God, I’ve never seen so much glass in my whole life…Murano glass is everywhere!!! On our first day we all went for a walk to St Marks square to see the Basilica…it’s a lovely place with the Grand Canal on one side, plenty of shops to browse and so much to see everyway you look. Lisas mum Anne and her friend Merc had come over to Venice and will travel with us to Florence after here! We all met up and decided to head straight down to the Gondolas for a ride!! Its xxxy and best advised to split the cost(120 euro for 45 mins!) but what a gorgeous thing to do…he took us around a few canals and saw Casanovas place….Marco Polos home and the famous bridge of Sighs.( a pretty little bridge that joins the Doges palace to the prison- hence prisoners sighing!! As they cross to their demise!)
Day 2 in Venice saw us catching yet another vaporetto over to Burano…. A most beautiful little village(Island) about 40 mins from Venice. Its renowned for the colour of all the houses there. Apparently, years ago the whole town decided to paint their houses all different colours and with the brightest pigments they could find- its quite an amazing place and certainly well worth the effort to get there and spend a day on the island.
We all wondered around for a few hours, shopping, taking in the sights….they have a very leaning tower there as well! We found a wonderful restaurant in the main drag there…canals there as well….and like Venice, you can wander around really safely and not get lost! So we all met at Romanos restaurant, somewhat famous in these parts for being there for years and years and having quite the celebrity guest( Keith Richards,Robert de Niro etc). and most famous for its lagoon fish risotto…We had a lovely lunch and a few great local wines…..the sun was warm and we are in a beautiful part of the world….Australia seems like such a long way away especially knowing that’s its got cold at home in Melbourne.
Mahony and Robyn climbed up the bell tower in St Marks square.... We had the famous Bellini cocktail in Harrys Bar ( along the grand Canal) apparently made famous by Earnest Hemingways freguent patronage(and other famous folk of the time!)- its an interesting concoction of white peaches and champagne….I bet Ernie didn’t pay 18euro for his bloody euro like we did….. it an expensive place so you need to watch where you eat….and drink… Most of the waiters wear dinner jackets and bow ties….very flash and wouldn’t think it would work it Sydney Rd….
Clare found us a great little place on one of the canals….. a local artist on the Grand Canal eats there…as does most of Venices gondoliers! So yep, that was a fantastic find, cheap, yummy and if the locals eat there…it has to be good!
We loved Venice….lots to do…lots of shopping ( could be dangerous to credit cards!) lots of gorgeous sights and truelly a very different kind of place to Australia being completely surrounded by water- and canal life is so different to home!
We visited the Teatre Fenice- which is the Venetian Opera House- a bit like a mini Versailles in its ornateness…but so beautiful …and somehow, the Venetians have a more subtle sense of colour than the brashness of the French it seems…..I guess they would argue the toss about that!
On our last night there we thought we’d visit the Casino….a rather grand building a few canals away….(you know the far canal-ha! )Well, apart from a bunch of really cranky old Italian gamblers most serious on their intent…it was a weird place and all of us came home with empty pockets…but thankfully, not having lost much! The casino is state run over there and incredibly strict with rules etc….and pretty well dead boring really!
Still, we live and learn!?
After a few lovely days in Venice we’re off to Florence by train tomorrow-