"Awake is the New Sleep"

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Jun 29, 2007

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Greetings to all my younger friends who know this Ben Lee album.

Yesterday was our last morning in Prague. Rob has come down with a heavy cold and chooses to spend the morning resting indoors while Liz and I take to the streets of the Old Town again. We wander around in a few circles, stopping for only lunch and a coffee. We continue Liz's hunt for absinthe and mine for a marionette - a specialty of the Czech Republic and something I had promised myself as a souvenir of this trip.

Unfortunately, they are made completely from wood plus costume and, with packing, would have added considerable weight to an overweight bag that is yet to travel a few stops in Italy and will require much lifting. One shop did offer postage at €1,000 - about AU$60!

So instead, I settle for option #2 - a small garnet ring - pretending it was the eternity ring that was due about 20 years ago! Much easier to carry too! Garnets and amber are sold widely in the large number of jewellery shops in town, but the latter are chunky and inelegant to my eye. Garnets range in colour from orange through the standard red to the much-prized pale green and from delicate pieces to huge knuckle-dusters.

Last night, we wearily boarded the overnight train from Prague to Venice. We had booked a 4-berth cabin between the three of us which in hindsight was one of our best decisions of this trip yet. Our carriage is full of loud Czechs carrying - you guessed it - cheap beer! They stand in the passage drinking and talking loudly well beyond our bedtime and we are glad we can lock our door from the inside and did not have one of them in the fourth bunk coming and going! Still, sleep is fitful as the noise continues, the train makes many stops and the beds aren't the softest...

The train is a mix of Austrian-built sleepers and Czech sitting-up carriages. The latter are dropped at the Czech-Austrian border (we may have changed engines too) and when we wake the next morning, we were heading in the opposite direction with an Italian diesel pulling us towards Venice!

This train is not quite up to Canadian standards and has only frankfurts and sandwiches available on request from the stewardess. We are issued with hostel-like sheet bags and have to ask for blankets. Irene is very reluctant to issue them as everyone would then want them, and she would have to then pack them up in the morning!...

8.30am, Venezia S. Lucia - Aahh! Real coffee! Even at the train station.

We catch a number 1 vaporetto to our accommodation and then spend a morning wandering the lanes of this city that never fails to fascinate. Rob retires for the afternoon in an attempt to knock his cold and Liz and I continue our wanderings, fighting our way through an increasingly thick crowd of tourists. Dinner is at the pizza and pasta in the local square before we retire to plan tomorrow's agenda and explore Italian TV - and Franco Cozzo ads! Well, someone else, but just as bad!

Time for some real sleep.

For the record...
Pashminas are €10 euros now, approximately AU$17
Hawkers sell imitation designer bags rather than souvenirs
Cappuccinos are €1.50 and up to €10 euros in San Marco Square
Pizza squares are €2-3.6 from the Lebanese shop!
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