Italy 14: May 2, 2007 -- Arrividerci Tuscany and Bongiourno to Venezia -- notes from Bob and Sally

Bob Corbett's note:

Folks, here for the first of our two days in Venice after a simply marvelous visit in Siena.

Poor Sally had a bit of a rough trip here today. We took a local train from Siena back to Florence and then the 10:27 morning express from Rome to Venice which stops in Florence. This was some new super European train, can't recall what they call it. I never bother with reservations. So we just merrily hopped on the train, as we've done in many other rides, and picked two seats. But wow, this was some modern and snazzy train. We do have first class tickets (Eurail won't sell second class ticket to you if you are over 25 years old), so no problem. Or so I thought. Soon someone came with reservations for our seats. There were no markers that the seats were reserved, and that's the way it was always done before. They marked all the seats that were reserved.

So we moved. No big deal. But minutes later it happened again and then once again. Sally was just frantic, thinking we would be kicked off the train which hadn't even left Florence yet. But, me, thinking of the "old world" I'm used to told her no problem. I'd find a seat. And, three cars up I did. Still in first class and lovely, two seats together.

But she was really worried so I sought out the train guy and discovered this was a train that is 100% reserved seats, none not. I asked, is the train full? He said he didn't know, which was why they are not marked, since everyone must have a reservation they no longer mark them, which is why they weren't marked. He told me I had two options: Get off the train at the next stop (we were now rolling) at Bologna, or purchase a reservation and take my chances that no one would get on at Bologna or any of the other 5 stops and take our seats. So I purchased the reservations without a seat.

Sally is not used to European train travel and was terrified we'd just be dumped off. I assured her they couldn't do that and at worst we would be without seats. As luck had it, no one ever got on and claimed out seats, but it was a very uncomfortable ride for my wonderful traveling partner. I think we won't have to worry about it again.

Actually we don't have many more trains to ride. One from Venice to Budapest, but we have bunks reserved for a night train, then after three or four days in Budapest we head to Vienna, and easy trip where we have reservations for the rest of the time.

We may well take some side trips on trains from Vienna -- Melk and Graz being the two likely spots, but those would be no problem and wouldn't be on these new super trains.

In any case we are having a wonderful time here and have a simply marvelous hotel. I can't get over it. Fancy three star with antique furniture, about 12 feet from a canal, just beautiful and only 70 Euros a night. The people at the train station in Florence got it for us. What a great service.

We plan to have a lovely meal somewhere soon, and then find a bar that will have tonight's soccer match between my beloved Manchester United and Milano. Big, big game and I just have to see that.

We're in a small internet place about three blocks behind the famous San Marco Square. Lovely tiny streets, like gangways between houses in middle class areas in St. Louis. Fun walking. We took a long long long ride on a water taxi and virtually circled the entire city and grand canal.

Tomorrow we will do much more walking and checking things out.

My friend LeGrace Benson wrote me with marvelous advice. She claims she's not been happy with meals in Venice and recommended I just ask the waiter to NOT give me a menu, but give us whatever it is that the people in the kitchen are eating and to insist upon it. I'm going to play with the idea and see what happens. Sounds like an awesome idea to me.

Let you know what happened tomorrow.

Euro Star. That's what this new sort of service on the train is called. Yech! Give me the old less fancy trains.


Sally's note

Hi Everybody,

A short note from Venice, where we arrived just about 12:30 and right away found our hotel, just a very short walk from the train station.

Its been raining all day, but maybe a good day to take this train ride that started in Sienna went to Florence, and then we took another train to Venice.

It was a new experience for us too... we had no idea we were on a new kind of train... Bob will be telling you about it, nice and new, quick and electronic services, even a dining car.

When you arrive in Venice on the train you come over a long bridge between two bodies of water. That alone was fascinating!

Then after we dropped our bags at the hotel, we decided to take a water taxi to see some of the city, and it turned out that we took one that Bob had never taken, on a water route that he had never taken... awesome.

The water taxi took us a long way around to St. Marco square and cathedral. But it gave us a wonderful view of the Lido section along with some stops on the main section. It was wonderful to see where Venetians live away from where its mostly commercial (from what I could see).

I pulled a small travel book out of my backpack this morning as we were packing, a little book from the YMCA bookfair. Itís of Venice and it had a fold out color map inside, itís from 1954, and Bob and I had so much fun tracking on the map the different docks where our water taxi stopped.

We found too, that in Venice things may be a bit more costly than mainland Italy, and this internet point (what they call it here in Italy) is twice what it cost us other places. I read several books, some novels and some non fiction before I took this trip, and it turned out that most of them were about Venice, so there are things that I do want to see. The Fenice, the Opera house that burned to the ground and was rebuilt is one of them.

After we finish our notes here, we plan to do some walking, hopefully not in the rain, but who knows? And find a nice eating place. Bob has a good eye or is that nose for finding great little places where the locals eat.

Sally Ryan Sharamitaro




Bob Corbett