We set off from Waterloo at about 2pm on the Eurostar, and wound up on the TrenItalia Excelsior sleeper train in the early evening.
I’m a very light sleeper, so in the interests of Science, we’d bought various things to try and encourage sleepiness. Herbal Nytol, earplugs, lavender vapourisers and wine. Before we began the experiment, though, we had dinner on the train. Europeans wouldn’t put up with the food you get on UK trains – the dinners we’ve had have always been excellent and this was no exception, although they didn’t offer the sea urchin soup that I’ve seen on the French-Spanish Trenhotel.
We went to bed stuffed. I have to report that the experiments failed and I barely slept between lights-out and the steward bringing us breakfast in bed the next morning. Never mind, we were in Venice. We left the train station, and were greeted by the Grand Canal, gondolas, vaporettis and thousands of tourists, even at this ungodly hour.
The train to Abano Terme left at lunchtime, so we decided to take advantage of the left luggage service and wander around the town for a few hours.
Venice is the only city I’ve visited that looks just like the pictures. It’s also the size of a postage stamp, meaning we were able to navigate our way across it in a morning. By some obscure means, Nick had acquired a PDA with a GPS attachment. This was indispensable – we passed by many tourists arguing over pop up maps, tiny credit-card sized maps, fold-out maps in the back of their guidebook, Ordnance Survey style maps with compasses… Nick’s gadget meant we simply had to ask the magical sky pixies where we were, and how to get back to the station.
I caught up on some sleep on the train and we ended up in some bijou little Italian town about 40 minutes from Venice. However, we hadn’t arrived yet. Being 2.30pm, there were no buses, no taxis and no toilets. We walked the three miles to the hotel in unexpected heat and bright sunshine. This would have been welcome, but we were expecting English-style weather and had dressed and packed accordingly.
The receptionist at our hotel couldn’t quite believe that we’d walked all the way – until he looked at us more closely.