Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The wheels on the train go round and round

Italian trains are fabulous, y'know?  They're clean, they leave on time (Thanks, Benito) and the seat numbers you have so carefully reserved when you bought your tickets online only 3 months before are clearly indicated overhead.  The window seats have their numbers next to a little window symbol, and the aisle seats are next to them.  Simple, really.

Well, Mr G & I thought so, but the rather large couple from a country where a form of English is spoken, which isn't Australia*, didn't get it.  Even after the extremely nice, fluently-English speaking conductor-guy pointed to their tickets, our tickets, the window, the aisle, god, and ghod-knows what else, they still didn't get it.

Anyway, eventually they moved so we could claim our prize (the window seats, natch), then sat for the entire journey glaring daggers at us.  Well, she certainly did.  He put his earphones in & played some game on a little white boxy thing for the entire trip to Firenze.  Then they got off.  I had nearly turned purple with the effort of holding my breath for that entire time, but I breathed again once they'd gone.  In with the calm, out with the stress.

In Firenze, two delightful American Gentlemen got on the train, and engaged with us in charming, well-read and well-bred conversation all the way to Venezia, where we bid them a fond farewell, and proceeded to drag our suitcases all the way from Fondamenta Santa Lucia to Strada Nova.  I noted with some small degree of pleasure the new steps on some of the bridges that allow people with wheelchairs and idiots with suitcases to negotiate the bridges without dragging their wheels off, but there weren't enough of them to make it easy... and the idiots in tour groups didn't help either.  

Needless to say, a small tiff ensued because I didn't have my handy-dandy Venice map on me, right there, right then, and "we might have missed the turn", but Mr G solved that by going into a bookshop to buy yet another one.  That's about 19 we own now, but, to quote Ms Lois McMaster Bujold, "No artificial shortages".  Once we had the map, Mr G was satisfied that we hadn't missed the turn (see, he has absolutely no short term memory, and so could not remember from our visit in 2006 that the street we needed to turn into was almost directly opposite the street for the Ca' Doro vaporetto, unlike me), and we walked the 20 feet to our turning.  I felt almost vindicated, however, smug does not make for a happy marriage, so I held my tongue.  Kind of.

Our apartment was small but perfectly formed, with two bedrooms, PayTV and a laptop, and the most difficult-to-use washing machine I've ever encountered.  However, once I'd mastered it, it was extremely handy, so no more whining, lucky for you Mr ForeignWashingMachineMaker**.

It was also directly on a canal at the front, so we were able to leave windows and shutters open during the day, which meant we got some lovely fresh air, and it was relatively quiet, which meant we got some nice sleep, once I persuaded Mr Golightly to turn off the TV, that is - did I mention it was in the bedroom?  Same in Rome, too.  I think it's a bit weird, I have to say, to have the house's only TV in the bedroom, but Mr G liked it.  

It also had the worst shower I've encountered in a building***, where the temperature varied from 'boil your arse off' to 'freeze your arse off', and the pressured varied from trickle to slightly faster trickle.  It was one of those showers you have to run around in to get wet, which made washing my hair interesting.  

Some views, then:

View from outside the living room window.

This is a very famous building just near Ponte Rialto, which also features in this photo I took in 2003, but from a different angle:

We came out of this calle onto the canal which connects to the Grand Canal whilst we were looking for this:

The amazing Scala Contarini del Bovolo, which sadly was closed to the public when we were there, and it's probably just as well, because about 30 seconds after we got there, and an extremely nice French lady took our photo, a horde of tourists arrived, making lots of noise, disrupting every body else's views and generally being irritating.  I'm sure they would have overrun it.  We left them to it and went off in search of the Gondola parking lot!

Ciao for now!

*See?  I don't like to generalise.
**Whose name I can't actually remember.  Nothing wrong with my short-term memory.
***As opposed to 'whilst camping'