Eurolog VI: Gondolas, Trains, and Waterbuses

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For the first time this trip I set the alarm clock (the one I brought with me – there was no clock in the room).  This was our absolute last chance at Venice – we had a train to catch – and we were going to use it.

We ate our final breakfast in the hotel restaurant and cameled up on as much coffee as we could.  After we ate our fill we paid the hotel bill and left our bags with the concierge before setting out in search of a gondola for a romantic morning ride through the canals.  We found one, I attached my GoPro onto the hull of the ornate craft, and we sat and swooned as our gondolier prodded us through a myriad of waterways for the next hour.  It was simply dreamy.

Back on solid land I paid the guy the standard fare of eighty euros and we trucked over to San Marcos Square where we got into the ever-prodigious but fast-moving lineup to enter the Basilica.  I suppose that one of the reasons the Basilica is so popular with tourists is because admission is free, although m’lady had to rent a shawl to cover her obscenely bare shoulders and once you’re inside they charge a few euros to see anything beyond the main room.  The only extra fee we paid was to see the tomb of Saint Mark, whose body had been smuggled to Venice in a vat of olive oil or some such liquid about twelve hundred years ago.  Once he arrived he was laid to rest in the sarcophagus that lays behind the Basilica’s altar.  Turns out we could have saved our four euros as the sarcophagus is plainly visible from the main area, but we did get to see a nifty wall of ornate gold flake that would have been otherwise out of our view.

Afterwards m’lady had some shopping to do.  We walked together and rediscovered the glass shop she had found before we went to Murano a few days before.  i left her to sift through their wares while I found a grocers and bought a beer and a bag of chips to enjoy while waiting which I did, very much.  I should have bought two beers.

Eventually m’lady picked out a thousand things and put two back, and I even bought a little something too.  We went back to the hotel and grabbed our bags before hopping on the water-bus towards the train station.  

On the packed boat I noticed an elderly lady sitting a dozen feet away holding a napkin to her arm.  The kerchief was clearly drenched in blood.  She appeared to be alone and though she seemed calm and relaxed she kept fussing with the bloody napkin and I was concerned for her.  

I knew I had a bunch of clean napkins in my camera bag and I started digging them out.  Meanwhile the lady had left her seat and stood near where the passengers wait to jump off the boat.  I had just found my napkins when we pulled up to the next stop.  I expected her to get off with the rest of the passengers but she didn’t, and it was now clear that she was definitely alone.  I approached her and offered her my napkins.  She accepted them gratefully and transferred them to her arm.  

It was then that I saw the wound.

It was deep and it was ugly, about three inches along her forearm.  I don’t know what she did to injure herself so significantly but it wasn’t bleeding very much and she assured me that she was okay.  I went back to my spot and kept my eye on her until she disembarked a short time later at a popular stop that was rife with hotels.  I hope she’s okay.

We made it to the station with little time to spare before the next train to Trieste.  I thought what the heck? and bought tickets in first class for twenty euro instead of thirteen and we rushed to our platform.  We ran alongside the identical cars and couldn’t find a soul that would direct us to the first class cabin.  When we got all the way to the last car we hopped on for fear that the train would pull out without us and settled into a seat.

M’lady asked around and found that the car just ahead of us was first class.  We grabbed our stuff and moved up only to find an identical car.  It was air-conditioned though, which came in very handy at the time given we were were huffing and puffing from our rush along the platform, and due to the inflated price it was much emptier than the other cars.  Even when we stopped to pick up more passengers m’lady and I remained free to keep our luggage comfortably on a group of seats next to us while we relaxed in an adjoining quartet of seats all by ourselves.

A young guy behind us came up and told me not to put my feet up on the seats and being Canadian I obeyed while inwardly cursing him for the remaining duration of the journey.  I’ve gotten the old “hey buddy we don’t put our feet up on the seats on public transportation ‘round these parts” thing several times in my travels and I just don’t get it.  Do people eat off the seats here in Europe when nobody’s looking or something?  Sheesh.

I put my grumblings aside – ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy – and cast my gaze out the window.  After getting shuttled from the Venice airport in a water taxi and spending the intervening days carousing along narrow alleys and arched bridges over endless canals this was my first time seeing the Italian countryside and I was delighted.  Pastures dotted with red-roofed houses and fields of what I can only guess were grapevines zipped by, separated by canals and winding rivers.  I kept my feet firmly on the floor and enjoyed the ride.

In Trieste we found our hotel just a short walk from the train station.  We experienced the easiest and quickest checkin ever and relaxed a bit before hitting the town.  We stopped for some lunch at a sidewalk bistro where I really, really enjoyed a beer and a burger while watching the town flitter by.  After lunch we marvelled at the Roman Theatre that had been unearthed right in the centre of town.  My first Roman ruins!  Pretty sweet.  It was so cool to witness the original design of the arena seating style that I’ve utilized a thousand times inside a hundred different stadiums.

Roman Theatre of Trieste
Teatro Romano

We strolled up up up through a war memorial park and checked out a church that sat perfectly atop the hill.  I stepped inside briefly and was thrilled to hear an organ player warming up the pipes for a concert that very evening.  I ate up the decor and feasted on the ancient sound before joining m’lady back outside.  I bought a beer at a little curio stand and we sat placidly overlooking the city.

We took a few pictures of the sunset from up there and finally descended through a lovely park and the usual mishmash of cobbled streets to the ubiquitous town square.  The square was quite magnificent in the fading light so we marvelled for a while.  Afterwards we crossed the road and sat staring blissfully out at the sea.

Sigh.

We ended our night by finding the bus station (right next to the train station and very near our hotel) where we were just minutes too late to enquire in person about tickets for the following morning.  We managed to decipher the posted schedule and, comfortable that we had our pending departure safely mapped out, we went back to our hotel (after a quick stop at the grocers along the way to stock up on water and beers).

Trieste’s Piazza Unità D’Italia

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