Venice by train: Part 2. Brighton to Venice

Day 1: Saturday 24 October
I hate getting up early! But on holiday you have to get up early to catch trains and take advantage of breakfast in your hotel/B&B. So, it was up at 5.30, in the dark, to London Road to begin my Euro-journey. At Brighton I managed to catch the Thameslink half an hour before, which gave me breathing space at St Pancras, time to buy a falafel sandwich from WH Smith. Inside the departure lounge, I had a cappuccino and overpriced croissant from the bar. On the Eurostar I found I'd been dealt a joke seat (coach 16, seat 22), made worse by the person in front - with a view - pulling down the blind so he could play computer games!

Le Train Bleu, Gare du Nord, Paris
Beer at Le Train Bleu
At Paris Gare du Nord I found the RER line D south and caught a double decker to Gare de Lyon. To save on stress I'd bought a ticket from the bar on the Eurostar. It cost €2, so I was diddled out of 20c. (on the way back I used a machine, put in €2 to discover it didn't give change! Ah well.) I had nearly two hours to kill in Paris so I climbed the steps up to Le Train Bleu and had a beer (Pelforth Brune, €7.50) which came with some olives, nuts and lumps of garlic. The seven-hour journey to Milan Garibaldi was uneventful, except that as we entered the Alps it got dark, a recurring theme. Sam and Teege met me at Garibaldi and we took the metro to Zara and our B&B Vietnamonamour, which you guessed it, was above a Vietnamese restaurant! After a well deserved beer, it was up to my gaudy room and goodnight Milano.

Day 2: Sunday 25 October
Now, we lost (or gained) an hour down the tunnel, and we lost (gained) another overnight, so I was an hour early for the breakfast, but it gave me time to check Facebook on the wifi. Eventually a friendly woman arrived, opened the blinds and made me a cappuccino, followed by scrambled egg on toast and cake (mostly demolished by Sam and Teege)! It was a leisurely walk to Centrale, that magnificent station that Mussolini built, and time for another coffee before our 12.35 train to Venice, via Lake Garda and Verona. At Vicenza, we spotted a dead 2-6-0 loco outside the station. Soon we were on the causeway with a couple of cruise liners in view, and stepping out of the station, we were right on the Grande Canal!

View from Venice railway station
View from Santa Lucia station
Sam reckoned we could walk to the hotel, but what we hadn't considered was the number of steps in Venice! All those pretty bridges over canals large and small contain steps up, and steps down, and wheelie cases do make a noise over them, no wonder the Venetians want them banned. After a brief beer stop and a few dead ends we eventually found our hotel L'Orologio, overlooking the Grande Canal.

Venice has lots of steps, like these on every bridge!
Some of those Venetian steps
That evening we went out searching for cicchetti (the bars shown on the Rick Stein tv show were all shut), but made do with pizza, and... made the tourist mistake of asking for Grande Birra at one bar, to be served enormous and expensive jugs! The correct term for a pint is media. I also enjoyed my first spritz.

Venice is a peculiar place - no cars! And I only saw one bike. Everything moves by boat: fridge deliveries, bin bags, police, ambulance and, with all the steps, it must be a daunting place for anyone in a wheelchair!

To be continued…

More photos on Flickr.

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