Genelle has spent most of the night battling a migraine headache, not a good start to the day.
5.30am rise, a quick shower, downstairs for a coffee and croissants, Dave and Ali scramble in and we load the taxi up dodging a dead rat near the back of the black taxi,and head down the hill, its dark but not that cold. The train is on time, and in no time we’re off heading towards Florence on the Regionale train with a couple who own an apartment in Cortona, he’s a Romanian ( now long time Aussie) biomedical engineer who studied in Milan, she’s a doctor, both semi retired. They spend a month in Cortona every year. Today they are travelling to Luca to have a look. Thankfully they both speak Italian well, as it’s needed pretty soon after leaving Camucia. Our train stops in the middle of nowhere, nothing said, a few urgent phone calls by passengers obviously heading somewhere between Camucia and Florence.
After a reasonable wait the news comes via other passengers and the train pa ( which we don’t understand) that there is a delay due to the train hitting somebody on the tracks. Not sure if it’s true or rumours, so we wait, and wait, wondering what we do about our connection to Florence. It’s then confirmed something bad has happened and another train pulls up beside us, they put a little platform between the 2 trains and we change over to the alternative train before another long wait before we start off. They have to wait for the “magistrate ” to arrive to check the scene, there are rescue people outside the train, police walking through the train, lots of tension and drama. The train we take is probably the one that was heading to Rome, if it is Dave and Alison will be pissed because it’s most likely their train.
We’ve now definitely missed the connection to Florence so I’ll have to talk to a conductor if I can to check out what we need to do.The new train is packed with people, sleeping, reading, calling people on their mobiles, mobile calls coming in and lots of “pronto” is head where we are sitting. At 8.05 am our new train starts to move slowly in the direction we want it to, as we pass the train there is no evidence of what has happened there than rescue people and a few police standing around beside the tracks outside.
When we get going tue train gets up to 160km per hour, not bad for a Regionale. We’re into Florence about an hour or so later than planned, Santa Maria Novella Station is humming, chock a block, and military everywhere, then we try to find somewhere where we can get our tickets changed to a later train, a helpful Tenitalia assistant gets us sorted, and we’re on a 10.15 to Venice but have to take our chances with 1st class seats. The train conductor advises us to take what we can and he’ll get us sorted on the way, at Bologna we have to move, the 1st class carriage is booked out, so they get us 2 really good disabled seats in 2nd class, appropriate I suppose if you saw me hobbling along carting my bag up and down trains and stepping into the crowds.
The Frecciaragenta train hums along at up to 300 km / hour and we’re into Venice train station, out to the ferry ticket office, 2 tickets to Rialto, onto a packed ferry, we’re both hot and sweating and the crumbling knees are battling as I’ve stayed away from pain killers so far today – Venice and the hotel means I’ll dive deep into pain relief. We’re off the boat at Rialto B ferry terminal, dive into the crowds, wind our way through the Venetian alleys straight to the Hotel Da Bruno where we’ve stayed before. This is truly a beautiful city, but absolutely full of tourists, glass shops, bag and leather shops, gondoliers, and gelato shops. The old Venetians were mercenary’s, bankers, a navy for hire, money men in the extreme, it appears nothing has changed, they just kill less people in the alley ways these days.
We rest in the room, cool down and do a few odd jobs. Then it’s off to skirt San Marco to a glass place a Genelle wants to check out, my feet are killing me, I feel a blister coming on, but we find the shop and after a 30 second look she decides it’s crap and leaves. My feet say ” kill her now” but my head says “nah”, she’ll still cost you money.
We meet our Cortona compatriots at a cafe near St Marks Basilica for a late lunch pizza for nutrition and beer to rehydrate. A quick wander to the water via the front of St Marks, a beautiful Byzantine Italian archtictural wonder that started out as the Doges (Ruler of Venice) chapel. The Doges Palace next door is a square dour building on the outside but inside its fantastic. We stop at the canal where you can see the Bridge of Sighs, when the prisoners of the Doge were taken to the gaol next door.
Dinner is on the water beside Rialto, a qick dinner but way dearer than Cortona but everything in Venice is dearer, especially on San Marco and Rialto on the water. Everyone is weary so a slow walk to the hotel and its nighty night for everyone.
We’ve booked a private water taxi to the airport tomorrow, expensive but takes some of the stress out of it and cuts a lot of time for travel.
Ciao from Venezia tonight. Tomorrow noght Genelle and I will be in Berlin. It’s tough this old age back packing