Slightly After the Fact…

Posted on April 1st, 2011 by

Hello again! I’m sure anyone who had been following my blog has probably given up on me ever finishing up my experiences there, so this may not actually fulfill many people’s expectations after all, but I have a little time and it’s 1:24am so why the hell not. Apparently I didn’t even get to Italy in my last blog so this’ll take a while. OK. So. Early Sunday morning (the 26th, PS, day after Christmas) I got up pretty early and I’ll tell ya, the city seemed to be pretty deserted. It was a little after 8 and I had it all planned out to take the 32 from Uniplatz with plenty of time to get me to the train station. Well. Turns out the bus schedule I had didn’t include the fact that the 32 doesn’t come to Uniplatz on Sundays before 12:30! Yeah! And I thought maybe the 31 would take too long so I started walking along its route, hoping in case it did come I could be close enough to a stop to catch it. But! There I was, walking hurriedly down that one road, constantly looking over my shoulder as if I expected to be run down at any moment and finally the 31 comes when I’m almost to Friedrich-Ebert Platz and I’m running towards it (Obviously trying to catch it) and what do you think! He doesn’t even stop! What a doof. I finally catch the next round of 32 at like Thibeaustrasse or something so I wasn’t late after all. But all that isn’t even the interesting part of the story. PS Casino Royale is on while I’m typing this and I have to say, the weather turned out a lot nicer for James Bond that it did for me. (And trust me, had I been with different company I probably would have tried to run around St. Mark’s Square like he’s about to do right now!) Anyways, jumping the gun a bit.

So, my train plans were to go from Heidelberg to Munich, and then Munich to Verona, then Verona to Vicenza. Great. Super. So I got my first train just fine and it was a bit late but I had plenty of time to spare. So I get on the next one early and I’m noticing that there are an awful lot of reserved seats (I had just tried at the Automat to get a seat but it didn’t work–I guess either because you can’t do it that close to departure time or because they were all full) but a lot of empty places. I heard several people talking about how all the places were reserved but finally I just sat in one of many empty compartments in a row and just see if those people would ever show up. It was almost time for the scheduled departure so I thought I’d get lucky. Eventually another blonde woman came who also had no seat and explained she had missed her connection or something so her reservation was lost. I spoke in German with her. I was quite proud of this. I felt bad that I had no reservation but what was I supposed to do? Eventually more people started coming in, people who had reservations to sit there and the train kept being delayed. I was getting more and more nervous because the hallways were filling up and all the seats in my compartment were full meaning that since the blondie and I didn’t belong, there were two people still looking for their seats but doubtless couldn’t get through the mass of people and ski equipment blocking up the passageways. The announcer kept coming on to say (Hinweis=advice, or something…learned something new!) that the train was too full and couldn’t leave until people got off. And I was feeling more and more guilty even though I wasn’t in anyone’s way until those mystery people showed up. Anyways, the guys in the hall were saying that they were fine where they were, and the announcer was more concerned with the people down the train who were fitting extra people in compartments and having people stand up between the seats and so on. Eventually (52 minutes late) we left and I could finally relax.

That is, until I realized we were traveling through Austria and my Eurail pass was only for Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic. (I assumed since Switzerland lies directly between Heidelberg and Italy, I would just choose that one, and not remembering to check what path the trains I chose were going through.) So anyways, then I tended to get rather nervous again, because I was actually traveling somewhat illegally (in German, they call it “riding black”) (although I could have just asked to buy a ticket when the guy came round but he probably wouldn’t have been super enthusiastic that I was one of those without a seat reservation that was mucking up the train and delaying things in general earlier on). Anyways, it did actually take a while for it to dawn on me that I was in the wrong country. We passed Innsbruck and I kept thinking, “Innsbruck, Germany….Innsbruck, Austria….Innsbruck, Switzerland?” But my phone gave me a hint and plus, “Innsbruck, Switzerland”? Please. But bla bla bla, I luckily didn’t get checked until I was alone in the compartment and we were already in Italy. I was going a bit stir-crazy by the end but eventually I landed in Verona (“landed”…that’s correct terminology for trains, right?) and caught a similar train to the one I missed to “Venezia” (which I thought might be code for Vicenza until we pulled up to the station and I happened to see the sign for it. Good thing I didn’t stay on til the end of the line.) which just sat there at the station for about a bajillion hours (well, alright 45 minutes but seriously, no one else was around. I saw three other people on the train, what was the hold-up?). Plus I was texting Rose and she’d been waiting 2 hours extra anyways because she misread the time and then I missed my connection and bla bla bla. So when we finally did leave I realized it is the Italian custom to not announce what city the train is approaching, but rather lets you figure it out somehow, by perhaps timing it from when you left Verona or maybe squinting out the window for the occasionally-visible station-name signs in the dark. In any case, it was rather lucky that I got off the train at the right time. Also lucky that no one bothered to check tickets because I guess in Italy it is also the custom to require a person to buy a seat reservation, even if there are unreserved seats available (or even if you stand by the door) and then charge an unreasonably large sum for them (€10? Really? In Germany you can get a group ticket for like €4,50—exaggeration, but bla bla). OK, on second review of this blog so far, I seem to have spent several long paragraphs and just barely got to Italy, so let’s just move things on, shall we? So I met Rose there and was quite glad to see her. We did eventually get to leave the parking lot, but instead of telling that whole story, I’ll just say don’t pay for your ticket before allowing your jeep to warm up because by the time the gate refuses to let you out you’re going to have to scrounge for change and that, while fun, is probably not the best use of your time and back-up change you were keeping in your cup holders or coat lining.

Eventually we got to their apartment in a nearby town-place called Torri di Quartesolo. I didn’t see much then, since it was dark but I met the husband, 8 year old son and baby (well, toddler) but I didn’t do much besides eat some food and watch Rory’s new Indiana Jones Wii game. The next day we were supposed to be awake “bright and early” but left a bit later than that to see the immediate area of Vicenza. The weather was beautiful, and I didn’t even need my winter coat! On December 27th! It was great to just walk around and see things that were in Italy! Everything was so picturesque, it was unreal. Plus I had some awesome genuine Italian something. Um…foccacia? I dunno, it was great. Plus some delightful pastry things with a million fancy layers. That night we went out to eat at a place they like to go to. And Rose wasn’t lying, the Italians really do love that baby. I mean, I know people tend to go crazy for cute babies anyways but throw in those dimples and make them Italian and that kid can get away with anything. Anyways, after a wonderful dinner of gnocci with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella and tiramisu, we went to their home again. The next day we took the train to Venice (!!!) and it was a lot of fun. Despite the overly cloudy weather the whole day, Venice was awesome. I took a picture of more or less every canal we walked by. We did eventually get to St. Mark’s Square but I didn’t end up running around like James Bond after all. When we walked by the water there was sort of an awkward moment when I was trying to get a picture of me, but no one else was around so I was trying to take it myself and two tourists came by and after some awkward communication I realized they were insisting not that I take a picture of them but that they take a picture of me. They felt sorry for me I guess and thought I was alone. Eh, at least there’s a halfway decent picture of me there.

I remember my sisters talking (well, complaining) about all the stairs in Venice, because every bridge you go over has steps up and down and surprisingly it didn’t really get to me, but was probably a bit more bothersome for Rose, who was in charge of Rafe in his stroller all day. Joe (her husband) took turns grabbing the front end of the stroller. But anyways, we eventually found a place to eat but it must have been too close to that touristy place because to be honest the food wasn’t terribly impressive and a bit overpriced. But whatever, I’m over it. Rose gave me more food when we got food as we watched some movies (Rory’s choice so A Diary of A Wimpy Kid and Shrek 8, or whatever they’re on these days). Wednesday, my last full day there, we visited some Romeo and Juliet castles, in ruins but still fun, nearby and then headed to Verona where we also saw Juliet’s house. Plus the stadium or whatever the real word for it is. Arena. It was fun and about sunset so quite pretty as well. Then we wandered about some more and saw their Christmas market (still up, and on the 29th as well! (ahem! Heidelberg! *cough*)) where I got a beautiful purple scarf that I’m even wearing right now! I almost got a different purple scarf but then this guy was like, oh you like this scarf? and pulled out on that I hadn’t seen. He showed one side and I was like, Ooooohhh, and then he turned it over to the other side and it was like opposite (black flowers on purple or purple flowers on black) and then I got really excited and then went ahead and bought it. It’s super beautiful so the fact that I beyond didn’t need any more scarves is totally irrelevant.

That night we ordered real Italian pizzas and is probably when we watched the other movie, come to think of it, and each person basically got their own pizza, which, surprisingly, I couldn’t finish. Ooh, and Bailey’s hot chocolate! Which Rose tried at a stand in Venice and Joe finally got her some Bailey’s that morning. It was a wonderful drink, that I only spilled a little on my new scarf but that was only because Rafe grabbed at my cup at an inopportune moment. Not my fault. The next morning Rose drove me to the train station bright and early for me to catch an early train. I got that seat reservation which is when I found out about their overpricing but the rest of those stories were from Kaia. Although I did not get a seat on the train from Milan to Zurich, I didn’t get checked. Also some nice Italianish guy quite nicely let me have his seat so I didn’t have to stand the whole time there. The rest of the trips were delightfully uneventful, which made me quite cheerful and happy. (no lie, I just gazed out the window smiling cheerfully to myself most of the time for seemingly no reason! Yay!) So by the time I got to Heidelberg no one was there, they had already left for Berlin. I left the next day but I took an evening by myself to chill in Heidelberg. I don’t really remember what I did but it’s probably not important. The next day I made it to the train station again and went to Berlin. I got a seat reservation already, somehow, I don’t remember when I did that since AJY was closed I couldn’t have printed it there…Eh, who cares. I slept most of the way there anyhow. I sat across from a rather touchy-feely attractive German couple, which got a little annoying at times but then I would just drop off again, so I made it through all right. It was an ICE most of the way, which are super comfortable and you should all go get on one right now because they’re awesome. PS It has only gotten later and I should probably go to bed now. I think I’ve written enough for now, especially since I was meant to be staying up late reading for class, not catching up on a blog that absolutely no one is on tenterhooks to read any time soon. But there you go. Decisions, decisions. And another Chef just started (I guess that’s what happens when you press “Play All”) so what the heck, maybe I can fit in Berlin too.

So, at the train station I met Sarah, Haleigh and Haleigh’s friends Chris and Harry from Stonehill, her college. We made our way to Fabian’s, a fabulous hostel somewhere over…there. I dunno somewhere, near Turmstrasse I guess, which is abbreviated Turmstr. which apparently Chris and Harry pronounced “Turmster” until they had the guidance of German learners. Haha. But yeah, I guess first we stopped by Chris and Harry’s hostel so they could get their stuff because they figured they wouldn’t be getting sleep since their hostel was basically a nightclub on the ground floor and were planning on camping out on our floor in our place, which surprisingly had quite a lot of extra floor space. So yeah, Fabian’s was awesome and except for the heat being on the fritz it was quite good. We went out that night, New Year’s, for what Chris insisted we call “The Biggest Party in the World.” I guess it’s technically the biggest outdoor party in the world. Yeah. And we went. It was in front of the Brandenburger Tor and yes, it was crowded. By the time we got there it was maybe 9ish? Who knows/cares. And Sarah quite had to pee but whatever geniuses planned this had a cluster of about 10 porta-potties with a huge crowd of women pressing toward the man taking money while the men were basically just peeing on the surrounding trees and fences. There was also quite a crowd just going for the “privacy” of the woods, where it was free and with no line. I’ll just leave it open as to what we decided to do. We then got back to the party which was fun but with the melting snow it got pretty soggy and wet and unpleasant for the feet.

So after some snacks and drinks (Glühwein!) the show started and we got a standing place squished in the middle somewhere where we couldn’t see the stage but we could see the screen and couldn’t hear anything. Which meant, that all that counting practice for Chris and Harry was for naught because no one knew when anyone was counting down, they just moved their mouths some and then there were fireworks. Um, yeah, I forgot to include that part earlier, where we taught the guys to count in German and it was hilarious to hear it. They did very well. But it ended up being quite useless. We left shortly afterward, which was quite difficult because, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but it was really crowded. We could hardly move and when we did we had to cling onto each other so we didn’t lose each other in the crowd. We didn’t make many friends that way (sorry older German lady) but we did at least stay together. We followed some people who were hopping the fence and escaped through the woods while the fireworks were still going on. We got back to the train station where it was, surprise surprise, where everyone else had gone and a lot of them were a lot more drunk than we were. Also there are apparently no rules about individuals setting off fireworks and there was stuff going on all over. I thought it was quite exciting but Chris will tell you that his life was in danger as one firework apparently ruffled his hair as it whizzed by eight inches from his face. After that we were all fairly wet and soggy from mid-calf down and we had to leave early in the morning so we just went to bed. I actually never went to bed so early on New Year’s and usually I’m hanging out in crazy old St. Cloud, Minnesota but who cares about that. OK, before I embark on Prague and Amsterdam I’m just going to quit since Chef just got done (it’s a TV show, in case you didn’t put that one together on your own yet, and it’s British too so in case my vocabulary sounded weird or pretentious that might be why) and it’s actually quite late. It’s my spring break but I really shouldn’t sleep in until 2:30pm, probably, so we’ll just see how this goes. Hope someone reads this, or at least skims it since I realize it’s long and I have no self-control regarding detail in stories. Until next time! (and no promises about when that might be)

 


One Comment

  1. Sarah says:

    Today! Today! Update the rest today!

    Also, the fact that it’s like 2 in the morning is so apparent, it’s hilarious.

    also “sarah quite had to pee” made me laugh and laugh…mostly because of the terror I felt when I realized I’d have to wait in that line for an entire week before I could get to the porta-potties.