This is the first of my seven planned Venice posts. Having finally gone through all the pictures I took, I have made sure I picked the nicest ones to accompany my writings here. Hope you enjoy most of it. My Venice trip went over four days, starting with a train journey on Thursday, arrival in the late afternoon on the island, lots of walking throughout the entire island, followed by lots more walking and water ferrying to and from many parts of the lagoon.
I woke up on the Thursday morning with my stuff packed and ready to go. I had a bit of time to actually take it easy before heading off to the train station. My trip would take me from Innsbruck train station to Verona Porta Nuova, which is about an hour away from Venice, where I would board another train all the way to Venice’s station Venezia St. Lucia.
At the station early enough to not miss the train! Don’t want another repeat of Vienna, but this time I also knew well ahead of time where to go.
The train that took me to Verona continues on to Bologna. Confused me at first, but that’s what train codes are for and a comparison of train type, departure time and the “via route” helps. You take the Brenner highway by the way to get to Italy from Innsbruck.
As you ride through the valley, you get a view of the highway bridge crossing a valley, part of the Brenner Highway. Such structures are pretty crazy in terms of the engineering work involved and believe it or not, this isn’t the highest bridge in Europe.
The train ride took four hours. I quickly got bored of sitting in the second class wagon and made my way to the bistro wagon, which had ample space and air conditioning (which however had issues every time the roof of the train overheated). The space allowed me to get through some readings while drinking a refreshing drink.
Took the opportunity to extend my “allowed time” in the bistro wagon by ordering a lite lunch. Nurnberger sausages with potato salad and a fresh green salad. Train food is quite gourmet!
As we crossed the border, the landscape started to change, you could tell by the shape and appearance of the hills and just generally the countryside.
Arrived in Verona Porta Nuova in the afternoon and had an hour to kill before boarding the next train to Venice.
And look what I found at the train station in Verona (didn’t think it’d be worth venturing into the city as the station was not exactly close by and my Italian is like my Spanish, i.e. no knowledge to get around.). McDonalds shares a pizza bar by the way, there are two franchises in there (for those who start thinking that McDonalds makes pizza in Italy hehe).
Take one step out of the station and not only will you melt in the sun (because it was very hot that day and only got warmer as I headed further down south), but you’ll be greeted by some older style architecture. Had a quick look around station’s area. Not much apart from car park, hotel, old building and taxis.
One big attraction you’ll find in Verona is a Colosseum just like the one in Rome (albeit a bit different of course). It is in the city centre. Apparently there are also concerts taking place there from June to August (if my Italian serves me right).
Continued walking around the station peering at the schedule of trains. Venezia St. Lucia departing at 4pm on platform 4.
Just to give you an idea of the train route. The train starts in Munich and passes through Innsbruck, where I boarded, heading on Verona with a few stops in between and finally on to Bologna. Courtesy of the German train service, the “Deutsche Bahn” or DB.
If you were to give yourself an impression of Verona just by looking at the train station, you’d think it’d be quite a small town out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t be fooled. Spent the last quarter of an hour waiting on the platform until the train arrived. Soon after I boarded and continued my journey.
Another important stop for many planning to see Venice and the Veneto (the surrounding region). Mestre is the last stop before heading across the bridge to the island. If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, as I’ve heard from friends and what the hotel deals tell me, you’ll definitely pay a lot less if you stay in Mestre and travel to the island. But hey, if you’re out to see the island, I recommend stay on the island and pay a little more. For those, who aren’t very interested in actually seeing Venice but the actual region, consider the cheaper option in Mestre. It lies quite convenient.
As I crossed the bridge, I felt the sea breeze coming in through the open window in the train carriage. Was listening to music and the whole scene felt like one out of a travel show. There’s the island and soon I would arrive. The train started slowing down as well by the time I took this picture so I knew I was very close.
Arrived! Train rolling in…
It doesn’t help your excitement at all if you get of the train and find you have to walk all the way down the platform to get to the exit (or at least the main hall). I lugged my suitcase to the hall, where I had to refrain from immediately running out to see the town and inquire about return tickets first (I had bought a one-way ticket and was told that the ride back can be booked in Venice and in most cases would be cheaper).
The main hall of the train station. A giant souvenir shop, a giant food court, lots of ticketing machines and one problem: I was not able to get a return ticket for the whole trip, only back to Verona. Seeing as I wasn’t very familiar with trains, I stood in line to speak to someone and he himself told me the same thing. I would have to buy the ticket there on the way. Seeing as worrying was pointless, I just decided that I’ll deal with it later. Having also seen people buy tickets on board the train, I figured in the worst case I could just board the train first and deal with it later.
So! Off to the exit to see Venice! This is what you’re greeted by upon stepping down from the station.
And the first old building and bridge too! I had a quick study of the map while on the train. I was positioned in the northern part of the island and had to make my way down to San Marco Square where a few twists and turns would get me to my hotel. Click on the markers in the map below to trace my trip. I deliberately did not draw in the route I walked because quite frankly, I had no idea where I was going most of the time until I reached the checkpoint, haha!
View Arrival in Venice – Finding my Hotel in a larger map
Zoom into the map and you’ll find out just how much of a maze the city is.
My starting point was the train station.
My finishing point was this little courtyard. See the little gap between the orange-reddish building and the white-greyish building at the back of the picture? Would you have guessed that my hotel was through that narrow alley? Zoom in on the map above and you’ll find that there actually is a little alleyway leading between the two buildings. At the end of it, you’ll find the hotel entrance.
Welcome to Hotel Tiepolo, the place I would be staying at for the next three nights. Located quite nicely near San Marco Square and near the main water taxi stops (I’ll call them Vaporetto from now on so you’d better get used to the vocab or else it’ll all sound Italian to you).
Got the key to my room and was greeted by a fairly small, but very comfortable and clean looking room. The view out the window wasn’t very interesting though, not that it bothered me. In Venice, everything is extremely densely packed so you’d be lucky to get a nice view. Those are reserved for the higher star hotels. This one was three stars, more than enough for me.
I dropped my stuff off and decided to head out. Over the next four days you’ll find out that I probably walked heaps more than I would on average. The compactness of everything just astounded me and the wonders of getting lost are unforgettable. You’ll definitely hear from me about my walkabouts around the canals soon. For now, this concludes my journey and my arrival.