Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day One: July 1-3

At the end of this one long day, I said, "How is it possible that one day can last three days?" I think it really summed up our traveling experience. That one day really felt more like seven.

The long flight from Phoenix to London was actually great. We had tons of movies to choose from and all tried to sleep early in the flight to get used to the time change, but none of us got great sleep.

Once we got to London, we all knew the 3 hour connection from Heathrow to Gatwick airport would be tight. Well, security and customs really took a long time, then the shuttle was 15 minutes late. We still had hope, though. Here we are on the shuttle, green and confident in the shuttle system. Then there was traffic. By the time we got to Gatwick, we were pretty nervous. We sprinted through the airport with all of our luggage (Michael might have taken out a small Asian woman - sorry, whoever you are!) and we made it to check in..... Too late.

We missed our flight to Venice. We spoke to the lovely women at British Airways who really went out of their way to help us when we told them that we had to get to Venice or risking missing the cruise ship. There were no flights out of London that day. The only one the next morning was sold out. After searching all other options, we found our only choice was to fly to Bologna, Italy and then take a train to Venice.

So that's how we came to celebrate JP and Shan's 5 year anniversary at a airport pub named "Garfunkels" instead of a canal-side cafe in Venice.
Still pretty cheery, though, eh? We tried to get a little shuteye whenever we could. Trust me, by the end of this trip, we all became wonderful Public Sleepers.
So we got into Bologna around midnight, but we knew the next train to Venice wasn't until 3 am. Waiting for 3 hours was going to suck, but maybe it was a really nice train station where we could get some sleep.
No such luck. It was pretty seedy. And when we got there to buy tickets on the train, it said it was sold out! How was this possible? we thought in horror. The next train into Venice wasn't until 6 am, so now we were looking at 6 hours of waiting at this sketchy train station. We tried valiantly not to give in to the depths of despair. We sat in a nearby McDonald's as long as they'd let us because it was the only place open. Well, by the time 3 o'clock rolled around, we were all desperate to get out of Bologna. So even though our tickets were for the 6 am train, we jumped on the 3 o'clock train like a pack of hobos and celebrated triumphantly when the train pulled away toward Venice.We didn't even have seats. The train had a very narrow aisle from which you could access compartments. We didn't want to go searching for an empty spot and risk detection, so we sat on these little fold out nubs of seats in the tiny aisle. We couldn't sleep because it was uncomfortable, the train was rocking and people kept having to squeeze past us. But we were headed to Venice, so we couldn't really complain.

So after 26 solid hours of traveling, two disappointments, multiple naps but no real sleep, we arrived in Venice at 5:30 am.
When we got there, we had a few options for getting to the hotel. A water taxi is direct and fast but very pricey. A waterbus costs less money but doesn't take you directly to your destination and takes a long time. We looked at a map and decided we weren't too far from our destination, besides, it was free. Well, it ended up being 30 minutes over cobblestones with luggage and up and down the stairs of bridges.
However ... nothing could beat the sights that we saw with the sun rising in Venice. It was so early that the streets and staircases were deserted, which is a view not very many get to experience. So I'll leave you with some images from the haunting trek through Venice, which looked (in our tired delirium) more like a movie set or abandoned Disney park than real.

Thank you for reading.

Next up: Day Two: Venice and Setting Sail!

3 comments:

  1. oh my gosh Julie! Your day 1 adventure sounds crazy. I am glad after all that, you made it though. I would probably have broken down into a big ball of mush, haha!

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  2. Wow, Julie sounds like you had a fun first day. I know the ride from Heathrow to Gatwick and it sucks. We just barely made it there for our flight. But your pictures are wonderful, it doesn't seem real either. Cant wait to read more.

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  3. We were so sorry that you had missed flights and were delayed but we were so thrilled to meet up with you all in Venice at 5:50 am! You are right that seeing Venice that early, with minimal people was an amazing experience. I loved seeing your pictures and hearing more about your travels. I'm looking forward to your next installment of the adventure!

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