Monday, March 17, 2014

The (long overdue) Venice Post (part 1)

Yes its been 2 weeks but I had a class paper to write and I've been working!

So the trip started with me taking the train after work to Vienna to meet Toby to catch the night train.  This gave me the chance to see Moravia during daylight (I've only traveled through this region in the dark).  It surprised me how much it reminds me of the Kansas or Iowa countryside:  hills, fields, some trees.  This was also the first time I saw Breclav in semi-daylight....not impressive, somewhat intimidating even (at least the train station).  The case could be that the rest of the town is delightful, but my impression of the train station was that it was in disrepair.  I have since been told the town is perfectly nice, as is the surrounding region (which I intend to visit soon).

House?  Very rural Moravia

I arrived in Vienna and met up with Toby after slight confusion about where a particular kebab place was located.  After resolving the Kebab confusion we found more confusion.  Upon looking at the train schedules, we found our train left from Wien Westbahnhof which was a slight problem as at that moment we were in Wien Meidling station.  A quick underground ride fixed that.

We boarded the train and found our seats.  The train was reasonably full at that point.  Then it became unreasonably the point where people were standing in the aisle.  There were six people including ourselves in our cabin which limited our legroom.  Did I mention this was an overnight train?  Three Slovaks, an Austrian(?) girl, Toby and I.  The Slovaks seemed intent on getting drunk and taking what appeared to be ecstasy.  They insisted on talking loudly while we attempted to sleep.  Toby tried turning out the lights....then the talked louder.  Then they slept loud.  The train stopped in Salzburg for 2 hours for apparently no reason (there's probably a reason, I just didn't like not moving for 2 hours).  Everyone sans myself was asleep at that point, which didn't help the frustration with a train that wasn't moving.  Somewhere between Salzburg and Villach one of the Slovaks decided the most comfortable sleeping position was nearly upside down, propped up against the wall, with her feet in the air.  I was amazed at her unconscious yoga.  They kinda smelled too.

Around 7am everyone woke up, although I had been awake continuously from about 0530.  The Slovaks had their breakfast and chased it down with Vodka in a plastic bottle.  They offered me a shot to dispose of the alcohol before they toured around Venice, but I refused.  After a few more attempts to convince me and after a misguided feeling of pity, I took a shot.  I'm pretty sure it was rubbing alcohol.

Freddy promptly greeted us at the station and immediately began his tour pointing out several landmarks and highlighting its history (he's got a career as a tour guide if that whole college thing doesn't work out).  For anyone who hasn't been to Venice, it is exactly like any photos you've seen.  Narrow stone walkways follow canals that people actually use for transportation, with arching bridges crossing them.  I was fascinated that people leave their trash outside their door for the garbage man who collects the waste by boat.  Buildings have one door that opens to walkways, and another that opens to the canal to allow seamless transition from boat to home.

My personal favorite

Arriving at Freddy's friend's place after the alleys (see next post)

Venice hospital

Finally all together....briefly

I am now realizing how much Venice we crammed into 1.5 days and it is now 1am.  I fully intend to elaborate on this experience and the above photos within 24 hours.

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