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Night Train to Venice from Zagreb – Day 62

12 January 2010 No Comment

Thursday 1st October 2009 – Venice

It was late in the evening when I boarded the train to take me from Zagreb to Venice, and it would be a long trip in more ways than one. Read on to share in the fun and games of this night train.

I had a seat reserved in a carriage of 6 seats, the other seats in the carriage also being reserved apart from one, but the others wouldn’t join me until the next few stops. I had at least an hour on my own before more people arrived, so it was a good opportunity to kip, or so I thought.

On the train was a guy from Austria, who was a little drunk as we set out. He was making people laugh up and down the train and seemed of little harm, although a bit of a nuisance. He caught my eye as he walked past and noticed I had the carriage to myself and decided to join me, which I was a little annoyed about. It was when he started pouring his heart out about his wife who was severely disfigured in a road accident that I knew it was going to be a long night.

It was one of those moments when I really didn’t know what to say or where to look. It was a tragic story and I felt for him, and his wife, but I didn’t know this guy, and he was invading my space, stopping me from sleeping. I just wanted him to leave to be honest. When he did finally leave the carriage I was extremely relieved.

I spoke too soon though, didn’t I! He only returned with another can of beer and proceeded to open it and carry on his stories. I had an idea to pretend I was asleep, or to give the impression I wanted to sleep. I told him of this also to reinforce the fact, but it didn’t seem to have much effect. It was made a whole lot worse when he spilt the can on the floor sending a river of beer across the carriage floor. My bag was under my seat and so I quickly grabbed it to stop the beer from soaking into the fabric, all the while this guy just kept talking, seemingly oblivious to what had just happened.

I carried on my sleeping act, well aware of how much the air in this particular carriage reeked of beer, and how the spillage was creeping round the carriage floor, feeling more annoyed with every passing minute. Eventually he took the bait, and left. I hoped this time it would be for good.

Soon the carriage would fill with other people and I didn’t want them to think I was the one creating the smell, and I didn’t want my shoes covered in the smell either, so I went to get some tissues from the toilet. This toilet, however, was locked, obviously, and the next one had no tissues or paper towels in it, so I returned to my seat and took some tissues from my bag, using them to mop up the river of beer as best I could. I dumped the sodden tissues in the bin outside, desperate not to run into this guy again, washed my hands and slumped in my seat. Why do I always attract this type of person??

By now we were nearly at the first stop where others would board the train, and it was here that the police entered to do their passport checks and customs checks. Luckily, the smell had gone, or at least I hoped it had. I was asked on 3 separate occasions by three different people to see my passport and my ticket, as security is quite strict on this border crossing it appears. 40 minutes later we left the station, but luckily for me, no-one else entered the compartment, so I had a couple of hours now until more the next lot of people would join.

Trying to sleep on public transport is hard for me at the best of times, and this train was worse than basic. I couldn’t get comfortable in any position, and even laying across the seats was pants, so throughout the trip I barely slept. It turned out that nobody joined the carriage until 30 minutes before we arrived in Venice, so in this sense I was lucky as I had the whole carriage to myself throughout the journey, except the beginning of course! But I still didn’t sleep.

I was very groggy upon arrival, and made for the ticket office for my next train journey. I was given the directions to the non-existent tourist information place, and after being unsuccessful in finding it, I used the map in my rough guide book to begin the trek to the hostel, through the small streets of a very foggy – and very eerie – Venice city, right to the other side.

The fog created a strange atmosphere, and it was relatively quiet at this early hour of 7:30, although the fish market was just kicking into action. The smells giving me a wake up call. The floor was slippery and I almost ended up in the crates of fish a couple of times, but I held my footing and kept my dignity. It was good fun to see, and everyone was having their morning banter.

Tourists were beginning to filter onto the streets now, creating a tourist trail from sight to sight. Guides were leading their pack along this route. It didn’t stop me getting lost though, and it wasn’t long before I was seeking out the assistance of other puzzled tourists to consult their map and ask for help. I found a couple of nice ladies who, together, we figured out where we were, neither being anywhere near where we wanted. Somehow I managed to find myself in the north eastern part of Venice, my destination was south west, so I was completely out, and already tired from walking for over an hour.

The walk made me think back to the last time I was here on a college trip, and the memories are all good. This put a smile on my face as I plodded on, bent double for the weight on my back.

Eventually I wound up where I wanted to be, and took the bag off my shoulders for a much needed rest. There are many streets here and many beautiful buildings and sights, but there are no seats anywhere. I stood by my bags looking like a drowned rat with the sweat that soaked my top. It was at this point that an Italian passer by walked up to me with something in her hand. She offered me her water taxi ticket which was valid for another 3 days, explaining that she was leaving and had no more use for it. I took it very gratefully and couldn’t help but smile as I was very pleasantly surprised at this stranger’s generosity.

I walked off on my way again and put the ticket into use by crossing the main river on the taxi without any problems. The ride was brief, but exciting. The waves crashed against the side of the boat as we raced across the water, the mist dimming my view of the surroundings. I hoped the mist would lift soon so I could get snapping on the camera. Finally, I made it to the hostel, very much exhausted.

The hostel was fantastically located on the side of the river, and the room itself overlooked the river to the stunning buildings the other side. But the dorm had around 30 beds in a vast, open area, divided by half-size walls, so you could hear everybody all around. I wondered if I would sleep tonight.

I wasn’t able to go to the room right away as I was early and they were cleaning, so I took my clothes to the laundry and made use of the time until then. I also went for a walk around the main attractions, the fog finally extinct, and got busy snapping. I remembered a lot from the college trip I had years ago, and I tried to find the same restaurant that myself, Dave and Helen had gone to when we broke from the rest of the pack on that trip. I drew a blank, but found a cheap place to get a bite. It was actually run by a family of friendly Chinese people, and wasn’t traditional Italian, but was still good. It filled a gap. I returned across the river to the hostel to check in properly and see the room. Here I napped for a few hours and took a shower.

After a much needed rest, I ventured across the water again in the evening for a meal in a nice restaurant by the edge of the river. It was great to watch the world go by and see all the boats with their lights on, busying themselves transporting the hoards of people back and forth. I loved it. The food was great and I treated myself to desert, then took an evening stroll before returning once again to the hostel to relax in the common area as I caught up on the diary.

Not long after, I got ready for bed as I was now devoid of energy. It has been a busy day

Click here to view more pictures from today, and throughout my trip around Italy

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