One of the beauties of living on the continent of Europe, if you want to go travelling then there is no need to book a ferry to cross the English Channel. My wife and I have always loved our touring holidays, mostly are carefree although some had troubling times and so it was when we decided to go to Venice.
Again, we were going to travel by road. Autopista (motorway) up through the East side of Spain and then into France passing through Perpignan and then using the uncluttered old ‘A’ roads to make our way over the Alps and then Northern Italy and after a few days travelling arriving in Venice.
A lovely journey staying in small villages and small hotels. Small is not an adequate word for some of them as they were smaller than that, but great after a day’s travelling from the last stop, and the food was always welcome.
We had pre-booked a hotel just outside of Venice with a railway station close by which we could walk to for the ride into its City. The train journey only took a few minutes to arrive in the urban area of waterways.
There were exceptionally large six cruise ships docked around the Island looking out of proportion to the buildings. With all those tourists from these mammoth sea going giants, and to my mind that was about ten thousand extra people so everywhere we went it was packed with sight seekers.
We were keen to see the Bridge of Sighs. However, we were out of luck as it was closed, the outside was covered in scaffolding. We bought a beautiful painting of it, not quite the same – you can’t go into a painting.
The ‘Piazza San Marco’ is the largest square in the City it had water sloshing across it looking as if it was submerging, it may have been the weight of the persons on it but probably because it had been raining very hard before we arrived, and it was still overcast with occasional breaks in the clouds.
After a tiring but interesting day it was time to find the hotel. Wearily we went to the station, showed the return ticket and stepped on the train. This is where we should have learned a little more Italian and looked at timetables.
As everywhere else in the City of Venice that day, the carriage was packed with standing room only. It was a bit worrying when the train started to pick up speed as on the journey in it had only lasted a few minutes.
There were a group of students crammed close to us and they must have heard our concern as one of them told us the train was nonstop to Munich in Germany, nine hours away.
We were aghast and looked at each other in wide eyed horror, tired and worn out from the day’s activities with little ability to sit down, how were we going to stand on a moving train for nine hours? Pulling the emergency handle was not an option as the fine was exceptional.
It was about thirty minutes later when the train started to slow, we looked at each other ‘was it going to stop?’ It did. We could not get off it fast enough. Looking down the platform as we did it seems someone else had had the same problem as they got off as well.
The return journey to Venice was not straight forward as the train that took us back went to a different station and we had to find a taxi to take us back to the hotel where we ignored the hunger pains as sleep was more important.
We left Venice the next day and by taking the Autostrada (motorway) we arrived in ‘Pisa’ the following morning. We had been there forty odd years before and at that time there were no restrictions to go up the famous Leaning Tower. There was an open doorway and steps winding their way up to a Plato at the top, a little bit frightening as the narrow passageway at one part wound around the outside with no handrail.
This time we were disappointed when we found there was fencing around the building and one had to buy a ticket at a kiosk for fifteen Euros each. We would only be allowed to go up it one couple at a time. Further to that they were only allowing a certain number each hour and if we wanted to go up the structure then we had a four hour wait.
Enough was enough an interesting but disappointing holiday – time for the Autoroute (motorway) through France and home.