Austria, boats, bridges, cappuccino, Case Western Reserve University, cities, crowds, Europe, France, Germany, getting lost, gnocchi, gondolas, Grand Canal, hostels, Italy, luggage, meeting people, Mestre, Munich, night walk, photography, Saint Lucia, solo, solo travel, student, tiramisu, tourism, tourists, train, travel, Venice, Verona, Vietnam, wandering, weather, wine
The night was a series of waking up to people changing in the compartment, the train squealing, and me periodically panicking that I would miss my stop. One of the passengers I had talked to the night before got off at Salzburg at the time we were supposed to be arriving in Munich. As the train slowed more and more in arriving at Munich, I began to realize I would have no tour of the city. Then, two minutes before my train was supposed to leave from Munich, we passed the station and I realized my train was heading to the main station and not the station of my next train’s departure. I couldn’t tell if this was a good or a bad thing…more time in Munich, but at what cost?
The first thing I did was race off the train when it finally stopped and got in line at the information desk. The woman who finally saw me stamped my tickets and printed out a new itinerary. I made reservations within the next twenty minutes through another line and had an hour and a half to see the sights Nelson had told me about on the train. Thanks to him, I knew which highlights there were…but I couldn’t remember if it was a left or a right out of the station? I got a locker he told me about, but I didn’t have coins for a big locker and had to settle for leaving my small bag and bookbag in the smaller locker. I dragged the larger bag outside and was glad to have a free hand for taking photos. The faster I walked, the hotter it got, and the more and more I was also glad for not having a bag on my back.
Naturally, I chose the wrong direction to see the sights. I turned around at a pretty church and decided I had time to walk the other way. There was still an hour left when I finally saw the steeples I was looking for at the most beautiful parts of town. I headed straight towards them, getting continually sidetracked on the way. I ventured too far. By the time I was coming back through the fountain, I realized I had fifteen minutes to get to the station, get my things from the locker, and board my train. I contemplated trying the metro, then caved and hailed a taxi. It was a good thing I did. The man took me the short way up the street, but faster and cooler than I could walk, and I paid him the fee, grabbed my things, and dodged into my compartment with minutes left. Finally, I could breathe…and freshen up in the bathroom. It had, after all, been since yesterday morning that I had showered.
The ride was so much longer than I was thinking it would be. I realized it was about six hours long. We backtracked towards Salzburg before cutting due south through the skinny part of Austria. Finally, we reached the Italian border. The mountains were capped in snow, yet it kept getting hotter and hotter outside. I was falling asleep here and there and was relieved when I finally arrived at Verona. I asked a girl from Munich if it was the correct stop and she said it was. She also told me that she studies in Milan, so she was getting off to go the other direction. She said Venice is much nicer than Milan.
I left the platform, grabbed a snack downstairs, then raced back to my train just in time. I boarded what I thought was second class, but I think it was actually first. I didn’t have a reserved seat on this train because I missed the one on my ticket and they didn’t issue a seat for this leg at the station when I got the times changed. My strategy was to immediately put in headphones and act like I was there the whole time. No one checked my tickets. No one even noticed my ticket was for the Mestre (mainland) stop, so I rode to Saint Lucia near my hostel without getting thrown off.
Now came the struggle I was somewhat expecting after reading reviews online for my hostel: finding the hostel. The directions were terrible and I ended up dragging my luggage through thick crowds, the heat and humidity, and streets not very accommodating for dragging things on wheels. Finally, I found the small, dark, nondescript door leading into the hostel, identifiable not by the street name or any bridge nearby but by the tiny painted numbers on the front. I went inside to check in, shower, and get my bearings with a new map. A girl walked in to the room and I soon became friends with Bi, or “Jade” as she asks to be called.
Jade left for a walk and I shortly left as well, deciding to chase the sunset. I first went up to the east side of the island where I could see out to the Adriatic Sea. Then I wove through streets and walked along the Grand Canal until I found the train station. I crisscrossed the canal and walked to the bus station to take a picture as the sun dropped farther, like a red ball in the sky. I realized it was getting late and that I should find food. Determined to find a place that had what I wanted and was somewhere by the water where I could watch the sun and the boats, I ended up wandering, getting lost, and eventually finding a place to eat at nearly 10PM. I had gnocchi, wine, cappuccino, and tiramisu. The waiter was awesome and tried to get me Jack Daniel’s, too, but I said I needed to go home. When I finally did walk home, I blew right past my hostel without even realizing it. I got to the familiar bridge that had confused me on the way to the hostel in the first place and turned around, surprised how close the restaurant had actually been to the hostel. I went inside where Jade was sitting on her bed and got on my computer to upload pictures. Just when I was finishing my tea and thinking about bed, she asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I agreed.
Our short walk turned into traipsing virtually the entire island by foot, dodging drunks, and getting lost for nearly two hours. The air was still a little hot and fairly humid. There were several water fountains that spill cold water continually onto the ground and we became immediate fans of this water. We finally came in with some night photos at around 2AM. Instead of going to bed, though, we sat up to eat Vietnamese noodles and chips. I think I will get up in a couple of hours to catch the first dawn lights, then go back to sleep for a little. I can use the boat pass Jade gave me for the whole day to visit the islands. She is from Vietnam but goes to school in France. She leaves in the morning for France, which is sad, but we hope to keep in touch. I love making friends in other countries!