Vienna to venice

Trip Start Dec 17, 2005
Trip End Jan 17, 2006

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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, December 23, 2005

Travel Information

Vienna - Venice

price: 50 €

duration: 7 h

carrier: ÖBB

book tickets well in advance, it is a lot cheaper. you can book your tickets on the phone and pick them up at the train station.

venice. oh venice. beautiful venice.

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The city is dark. Nobody is on the streets at this time. It must be around twelve. The Canal Grande is asleep at our right. Timid waves of water singing the inhabitants of ancient stones to sleep. We enter a hotel, asking for the youth hostel once more. When I say that there must be rooms for less than twenty Euros somewhere, the porter starts laughing at me. He gives me a map of the city to cheer me up. Outside we continue our search. At our right a darkly lit alley passes by. At its very end flashes a sign: HOTEL ROSSI. After strenuous hours of wandering through Venice laden with heavy backpacks we want to give it another try. "How much do you want to pay," I ask her. "Fifty, not more" she answers, with a stubbornly smiling face full of innocence. The hotel looks old and shabby on the outside. Fading colours of the stone. The plaster is falling off the facade, growing flowers suitably decorating the ancient wall.

We enter.

"Good evening," greets the porter.

"Hi!" The internationally standardized reply.

He knows what we need. "How much does a double room cost," Baidi asks. For a moment he hesitates. After a pause his mouth is surrounded by wrinkles. Smilingly he replies: "Seventy." Baidi's petite eyebrows frown towards infinity. "No way!" she exclaims. "I want it for fifty." The stomach of the small Italian porter starts to shake, because he has to laugh so hard. "Impossible, miss," he counters.

In spite of my tiredness, I observe a growing tension between the two. I would just like to sleep. A bench would be fine. There were benches at the train-station.

Baidi: (trying to fix the porter's eyes) Why?

Porter: Because it just isn't possible.

Baidi: (naively smiling) Why isn't it possible?

Porter: It just isn't.

Baidi: (acting silly) But I don't understand.

Two dogs are entering the arena. I recall a dog fight I saw somewhere on TV.

Porter: (drawing a booklet from underneath the table) Look, lady, those are our normal prices. It is eighty-five for the night during high season, now is low season. Low season price is seventy. Now I give the room to you for sixty five. That is a discount on a discount.

Baidi: (stubbornly smiling) But there is no people here. All keys hanging here,you know. You are not full. You can be cheaper, I know you can, come on!

Porter: (determined) No, sixty-five is the last I can say.

They pause. Glancing at each other. Sometimes friendly, other times angrily. Baidi's blood must be cooking by now. She can't take it when somebody doesn't want to bargain with her. In China, bargaining is essential, she says. I'm tired. I just want to sleep. I don't want to stand at the entrance, haggling about prices. The porter can feel it. Baidi doesn't care. I think it's about pride, not money.

Baidi: So... (Pause with a smile) are sure you can't do anything about the price?

Porter: It is the cheapest.

Baidi: (innocently smile) Why?

Porter: (slightly stressed out) Look, lady, I am not the boss here, I am only the porter, it is all I can do.

Baidi: (childishly) Really?

Porter: (at the end of his patience) Believe it or not.

Baidi: (looking at me) What do you think?

I: (yawning) I want to stay. Just want to sleep. Find a cheaper place tomorrow.

We discuss further. After a while we take the key and drag ourselves upstairs. Our room is on the third floor. I caught a little cold in Vienna. Exhausted, I fall onto the bed falling asleep immediately, dreaming of a land, where there are no trains and no hotel rooms.

The train from Vienna to Venice was full of comfort. The seats of the compartment could be transformed into an enormously-sized bed. We slept through most of the travel. As the night had already arrived, we couldn't enjoy the country side. Just stars. Twinkling. Underneath our blue-orange sleeping back we felt warm and safe. Dream was arriving with all its force.

Suddenly the door was pushed open noisily. A flashlight lit up our compartment. An Italian conducter called out : " Venice," or "Venecia". Something similar. We got up fast. Packed our belongings in a rush. After all we had practised this many times before. Not having tied up my shoe laces, I stumbled out of the wagon. Baidi followed. We were the last passengers to leave the train. Outside we felt the warmth. The warmth of Italy. Right away we felt at home. The air was vibrant of a mysterious and energizing power. We walked some paces. We stopped. We had to take off some clothes. The next step was to find the tourist information. All shop windows in the train station were shut.

We stepped outside the train station. Our eyes were filled with the glittering lights that played on the surface of the Canal Grande. Venice. We were full of joy. Beauty filled our eyes. We smiled. In Vienna we had scribbled the address of the Venice International Youth Hostel onto a ragged scruffy piece of paper. We showed the pamphlet to a local who was cleaning the stairs of the station. He answered something in English. Across the bridge, then to the right, some fivehundred meters, and you're right there. We thanked him so much. Walked into the direction he had pointed at.

We crossed several bridges, went through numerous alleys, asked many people for the right way. We couldn't find the International Youth Hostel. Venice seemed unspectacular at night. It was hard to find people who would show us the way, there were no people out on the streets. One person, carrying a cello, led us to a prison into a side street. All of a sudden he stopped and said: "Now you have to continue. It's not far away. Just straight and around the corner. Then you're there." We felt such happiness. Finally we would be sleeping in a real bed, after a real shower. We followed his directions. The streets were empty and silent. The air reproduced the sounds of the water. Water all around us. No cars. A city without no cars. It was a bliss to be part of such silence. After enjoying the silence and the ecco of our own steps, we realized that there was no hostel at the place described. We returned to the train station. On our way we checked out many hostels and hotels. The cheapest we could have gotten would have cost sixty Euros for both of us, sleeping in bunk beds. Two hours subsequent to our arrival, we stood at the same spot where we had started. Not knowing what to do.
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