So we really did wake up in Italy. And yes, the sun was shining, the landscape had changed, people smiled and were tanned and my knee somehow felt a LOT better. I can’t say it was the sleep on the train, as I did’t really ‘sleep’ per se.
After Nolan and I squeezed into our compartment and had a tasty dinner of bananas and chocolate cookies, we played cards for bit and finally decided to tuck in for the night. Not long after, there was the unfortunate incident of what we could only surmise as the train brakes being left on at a station stop. Which amounted to a funny smell in the train car. It got worse before it got better; the steward was running up and down the corridor yelling at us all to, “Opening Windows! Opening Windows!” when he really meant “Closing Windows! Closing Windows!”. But eventually, after all of our windows were open and the smell and smoke were much much worse, he yelled at us again to close the windows.
After the flurry of activity and much discussion in the corridors, led primarily by our pajama-clad and increasingly inebriated Australian neighbours, and squashed by our short-tempered and seemingly very stressed out steward who kept shushing us and yelling to “Be quiet now! And go sleeping”, the train moved on and the smell and smoke eventually dissipated. We all went back to our tiny compartments and tried again for sleep. And then, you know, another 12 hours passed. Not so exciting, I know, but it’s just a train ride in the end. It was cosy, if not exactly restful.
Judging by the Australian neighbours who reportedly slept very well, I think the key is to get as shit-faced as possible as soon as you get on the train and then maybe you just pass out. It was a nice thought, but one I couldn’t really indulge in, much though it seemed to work. Instead, I settled in for the night with my knee painfully propped up using my rolled up sweater. It somehow always felt as though my head was lower than the rest of my body and it made it really hard to fall asleep. And then there was the constant accelerating and stopping that happened all night long and the swerving and the brakes squealing. I really don’t think I slept at all, but somehow it was fun anyway. And yes, I was wishing for the Prague pillow, if you must know. It was the perfect size and shape to prop up my knee; which I explained patiently to Nolan. More than a few times. He didn’t make me feel weird about it at all, knowing how attached we got. Me and the pillow, that is. I think I caught an eye roll from him but he never said a word. That’s true love, friends.
We got into Venice early, dropped off our bags the guest house, and explored. And I’m so glad that I discovered what was to become my bestest and most favourite part of Venice – a doughnut filled with custard which the guy just called a brioche, but I thereafter affectionately referred to as a bonbonierro.
I’m not sure what a bonbonierro is, or why I was inclined to call it one, but it stuck; that sweet, squishy powdery bunch of deliciousness that I can only describe as the best thing ever. And then I had to have one every day. Which I did. Except for the day when they didn’t have them and I got some other delicious brioche thing that was good but not good enough to deserve it’s own nickname. Don’t worry, I had 2 bonbonierros the next day to make up for it.
I was really and truly so happy when we got into Venice that I cried a little. Which is not really that big of a deal given that lately when I sneeze, I pee a little. And also, I cry if I see a cat or think about an insurance commercial or just for no reason at all. Nolan says its the hormones, and I’m inclined to agree because I don’t remember finding insurance commercials so sentimental or sneezes so embarrassing before I got pregnant.
But anyway, Venice. The smell of the sea, the sunshine, the sweet confections; it had me. We walked around and got lost. We ate decent but not stellar food. We had gelato every day (again, not the greatest, but even sub-par gelato is better than Czech meatloaf and limp salad). There were lots of tourists, but we were staying in a neighbourhood where mostly locals live, so for the most part we got to explore alleys and canals that weren’t packed – mostly they were empty. I even managed to stumble around without my cane on our last evening. And the people we were renting a room from were gracious and kind and had a lovely dog called Canela who exuberantly greeted us on our returns. It was pretty magical.
And, we ate pizza.