August 19th

I woke up a little before the girls, took a shower, got packed and ready, and then cooked breakfast for us all so when they got ready, we’d have nothing left to do. Today we were to go to Venice. Unfortunately, there was no direct train from west coast Cinque Terre (or the surrounding areas) to eastern Venice. We took the train south from Riomaggiore for ten minutes or so to La Spezia. From there, we dealt with a very unfriendly desk attendent at the ticket office who, despite us being as polite as possible, got frustrated with our lack of knowledge of Italian and unwillingness to pay EU162 for three train tickets (when we knew we could get them much cheaper) and began openly cussing us in italian. I decided it best not to ask her to repeat herself in english. After we balked at the EU162 ticket package, she found tickets on a train that left twenty minutes later for EU112 (for three tickets).

Since there were no direct trains to Venice, we’d have to change over in several cities (from La Spezia to Bologna, Bologna to Parma, and Parma to Venice). However, there were stops at various stations along the route between La Spezia and Bologna and between Bologna and Parma. Our train from Parma to Venice however, was to be a direct train (Eurostar) and therefore much shorter.

We boarded a glass enclosed room that had four seats (two on each side facing each other) and a sliding glass door for the ride to Bologna. Somewhere along the way, while Paige, Kali, and I were playing cards, a man opened the sliding glass door and started begging for money in some foreign language (I couldn’t quite hear him because he mumbled but I assume it was Italian). By this time, I’d learned to say “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian” and we motioned to him that we didn’t have any spare change. Thinking that took care of the situation, we went back to our card game. However, a few minutes later, he returned and began begging for money again. We politely declined and he was off. Relentless, he returned again and after we (admittedly, a little more agitated at this point) declined his request for money, he began begging for a beer that Kali had opened. Only this time, he wouldn’t quit talking and wouldn’t leave the room. I was closest to the door so I took the door handle and forced the door closed. I hated to do that but I felt that at this point, it was necessary. A few peaceful minutes passed and he returned again only this time, I saw him coming and held the door closed. I assume he got off at one of the stops somewhere along the way because we didn’t see him again.

We got off the train and walked to the platform expecting to see our train bound for Parma arriving shortly. However, we were met with a message that informed us our train was delayed by 15 minutes. Shortly thereafter, 15 turned to 20, and 20 to 25. Apparently, delays are quite common in Italy. This was problemmatic though because we were going to be cutting it very close on making our Eurostar connection in Parma. Finally the train came and we were on the way.

Sure enough, as our train rolled into Parma nearly 30 minutes late, our Eurostar connection was just pulling off en route directly to Venice. The next train wouldn’t come for another 45 minutes and it wasn’t a direct train, therefore an extra hour and a half or so was to be added to our trip. Aggravated, we went out into the town and found some dinner before returning to the train. At one of the stops along the way, the train sat much longer than it had at any of the other stops. Curious, I got up and started looking around. Everyone else was looking out the window of the train at some police officers questioning a few teenage boys. I asked a few people what the fuss was about. Apparently, the boys had gotten into an argument with the conductor and one of them broke one of the glass windows on the train. The train sat and waited for everything to get sorted out before continuing on the way to Venice. This delay was about an hour or hour and a half.

We arrived in Venice much later than expected and without accommodation for the night. Kali had to be in Treviso, which is a small airport about 45 minutes outside of Venice, to catch her flight to Rome, where she would fly back to the United States. Aggravated, tired, and hungry, we tried to decide what to do. Should we see the city at night so Kali had an opportunity to see Venice or should we just find a place to sleep and call it a day? After finding out that we were a good 10 or 15 kilometers from the center of Venice and finding that no trains were running at this time, we decided we’d find some food and then a place to stay.

Hotel after hotel was entirely too expensive for our tastes or they were booked. Finally, after meeting up with a Croatian guy named Ivan who was in a similar situation, we found a hotel at 1:30 AM that agreed with our price range. It was going to be EU18 per person for the four of us to split one room or EU20 per person for us to get two rooms. We decided to take the latter and Ivan and I were able to sleep in our own beds instead of on the floor. What a terrible day. By far the worst of the trip. I think being on a train all day was starting to drive us mad.


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