Sept 29th, 2014 – Venice, Italy
I finished packing late last night. It amazes me how my suitcase grows even though I swear I haven’t bought anything sizeable for souvenirs! Maybe it’s because I’ve been shoving my dirty laundry in the outside pocket of my suitcase and it just looks larger. And maybe it’s heavier because my clothes are soiled? ha ha Or, maybe I’m just crazy.
I got up early in the morning, showered and went for breakfast making sure to eat lots because I didn’t want to have to buy lunch on the train to Florence. I didn’t know if it would be available and I figured it would be expensive.
From 9am to 10am I wandered around Venice one last time looking for a specially requested gift to take home. Many of the shops were just opening and many were still closed.
Funny how I spent two days and two nights in Venice wandering the streets and then on my last day there I found the ‘easy’ and short route to San Marco square. All along, I had been leaving the square from the wrong exit, which meant I wasn’t getting to the easy route. Here, on my last day, heading toward the square, I saw street signs noting the way. Note to self for next time!
I checked out around 10:30am and went to the Rialto vaporetto stop that was nearly in front of my hotel. A few minutes later, I hopped on the vaporetto heading to the train station, which was just one stop away (about 10 minutes). I found myself a spot in the centre near the very small luggage storage area and ignored the staff who were yelling at everyone to move inside so that more people could fit. It is just simply too difficult to move inside with all of your luggage. Only one stop to go … easy enough, right?
I got off the vaporetto in rushing wave of people with luggage stampeding to get off like the boat would leave before they could jump ship. I was getting bumped and jostled until I hit the main street. I took a quick look at a map and decided I needed to take the first street on my left. Great! Follow the sea of luggage bouncing along on the bumpy streets and soon enough I’d be at the train station.
Now, keep in mind, I’m carrying a 35 lb backpack with camera gear, a 10 – 15 lb Lug bag with two laptops, paperwork and backup hard drive and my nearly 50 lb suitcase, thankfully on wheels.
With my luggage trailing along behind me bumping it’s way down the uneven streets, occasionally getting caught in an indent, I followed the stream of suitcases ahead of me.
I walked and walked and walked … I had looked at my first left, but it was a tiny little street and nothing that looked like a train station, so I continued on, going with the flow.
Finally I came to a bridge. I headed for the ramp (rather than the stairs) so that I could roll my luggage up. I could see a big building on the other side and thought ‘That must be it.’ When I reached the top of the bridge, both of my hands were falling asleep, I had a kink in my neck and I was dripping sweat. I might as well be carrying an extra person with me.
To my dismay, when I got to the top of the bridge, I realized that the building on the other side was not the train station. I’m pretty sure I sighed out loud. I stepped off to the side of the bridge (not over the side) and took a few deep breaths. I then asked the older couple standing near me if they spoke English and if they knew where the train station was.
You guessed it, they pointed me back in the direction I had come from. The gentleman said I would come to the Grand Canal and it would be ahead and on my right. ‘You can’t miss it. Big modern looking building.’
Back down the ramp on the bridge I tiredly sauntered. Back through the streets in the opposite direction of everyone and their luggage. Back past a few street vendors who had tried to sell me something along the way the first time. Back past large buildings with no signs, wondering if one of those was the train station. Back past the vaporetto station that I had disembarked from about 15 – 20 minutes prior …
And then I saw it. The big modern looking building on my right, just in front of me. I still didn’t see any sign to tell me it was the train station, but it somehow was obvious this time.
How did I miss it the first time around? When I got off the vaporetto I was distracted by the bumping and jostling to get on to land. I stopped to look at a map and saw that the train station was on my left. However, I didn’t take into consideration where the Grand Canal was in relation to it. If I had looked a little longer, I would have realized that I needed to go left immediately (not right and then left on to a street) and the station would be immediately on my right.
When I say ‘immediately’, I really mean it. The map that I looked at was on my left as I got off the vaporetto and the train station was behind it (literally, the train station building was behind the physical map / sign that I was looking at), but I was so busy looking at the map and following people with luggage that I didn’t look to my left!
For those of you who know me well, I actually have a pretty good sense of direction and can follow maps quite well. But, I am one of those people who has to turn the map in the direction that I am facing in order to truly understand it. This is a little bit difficult when the map is fixed to a stand in the ground.
Lesson learned – look both ways before making a decision.