Originally published 2 January 2017
Our ride from Innsbruck to Verona, Italy
If you're old like me, your recognize the quote in the title as a line from the old Monty Python show. It's a pretty apt description of where we're at today versus where we were yesterday.
I woke up this morning and found I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would. I thought the day of skiing would have taken a bigger toll on me than it did. I did feel it a bit in the big muscle groups in my legs, but it wasn't terrible. Maybe doing this skiing thing again is a possibility. I would not be disappointed if it happened, especially in the Alps.
I was not, however, that happy about rolling out this morning. This was mostly because it was 5 am and we had to get to the train station, We made it in plenty of time, bought a sandwich, then caught the train south. An hour later we were in Innsbruck, Austria.
While not even close to Laurie's ability to speak German, I am pleased with my ability to order coffee or a meal, pay, and the whole transaction be in German. I can't sit and talk with someone, but I am able to accomplish simple transactions with other people. This morning, I ordered coffee and we sat in a restaurant section of the train station grocery store and drank them. When our layover was over, we boarded our train south into Italy.
A quick coffee in a train station is still so civilized in Austria
We had become spoiled with German efficiency. The trains and buses (with the exception of the buses in Garmisch) run precisely on time. Things are a certain way, and they happen as they are supposed to. In Italy......not so much. Italian efficiency is kinda like Mexican tap water. While a good idea in theory, the reality is not what one hopes for.
Our train arrives into Verona, Italy about 10 minutes late. We try to get a sandwich in the train station but the whole place is like a rugby scrum. We wind up scratching on food and heading to the train platform. When we get there, the screens that are supposed to show what trains are coming in and what platform, are blank.
We do figure out we're in the right place, but our train winds up being about 30 minutes late. It's actually a cool train, being one of the high speed ones that actually leans in the turns. The trip from Verona to Venice goes pretty smoothly. We spend the trip talking with a young Australian couple on vacation who are in the seats next to us.
We arrive in Venice and the whole place is kinda crazy. Lots of people, confusing signs, and things that aren't really clear. After Germany this place is gonna take some adjustment. I find the ticket machine for the Vaporetto, the Venice equivalent to the bus lines or subway. The difference is, all their buses float. We buy our tickets and head to the dock.
On the Grand Canal in Venice
They're called Vaporetto as they used to run off of steam. They're diesel now and there are a bunch of them. We board one towards the place we're staying. The pilot is a bit rough and I told Laurie we'll be lucky to make it to our stop before he tears the gearbox out of it. We make it with no issues.
We pile off the boat into the middle of one of Venice's biggest tourist attractions, St. Marcos square. We are assured that these are the winter crowds and they are much lighter than in the summer. If this is the case, we can't even imagine summer here....it must be insane. We walk maybe 100 yards from the square to our apartment.
We are staying at a place called Casa Carlo Goldoni. Carlo Goldoni was apparently a big deal here back in the day. He was one of the leading playwrights in Italy in the 1700's. We actually passed a theater named after him tonight. We chatted with an Italian couple on the train today who were quite impressed that we were staying in Carlo Goldoni's apartment! This place is gorgeous.
We're met by the owner who walks us through everything. We saved a nice chunk on airfare this year, which has allowed us to splurge on our lodging here. While not hugely more expensive than a hotel room, it is a bit more.
Piazza San Marco, Venice
All of the furniture is designer and hand made. the table is a wood inlaid mosaic, the kitchen is fantastic. Laurie says this is the nicest place we have ever stayed. I can't say she's right, but I can't come up with a time we've stayed in nicer. It is way snazzy for a couple of backpackers like us. We decide to head out for dinner, then grocery shop.
Ever go for a walk in a city, look down a dimly lit alley and say "man, that alley has muggers written all over it." Take that alley and make an entire city out of it. Most of the "streets" are nothing more than narrow paths between the buildings. Everyone wanders about with no concerns or fears about it. This is normal here, and we've not felt unsafe....just...unusual.
A little bit about Venice, and this will make more sense to some of my building and engineering friends than other folks, but the whole place is built on fill. My friend Michael (an engineer in Nashville) would go into spasms if he saw how this place was put together. The fill was uncompacted and the buildings are settling, often times unevenly. The whole city is slowly sinking into the lagoon that surrounds it.
All of these little alleys make the city like a rabbit warren. It's like you give a monkey 12 shots of espresso and a crayon and have him design the street system. Getting lost is expected. You just sort of wander in a specific direction and hope for the best. You'll get close and navigate from there. Things work off of landmarks much more than street names and cross streets.
We're just getting established in our last stop of this trip. Tomorrow should prove quite interesting. With all of the art here, Laurie is so excited she's like a little kid.
Goodnight everyone. More from us tomorrow.
Venice Slide Show Day One
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