So long, farewell AustriaJune 22 in Austria
The overnight SNAV ferry Aurelia from Split to Ancona was clean and comfortable and I was lucky to have a good sized 2 berth cabin all to myself. After dinner on board, I had an early night as the ferry docked in Italy at 06.30. With typical Italian inefficiency we then all stood in a Passport Control line for over an hour - and that was in the speedy European Union line - heaven help us after Brexit! After all the hanging about I was desperate for the bathroom, but I have to say the facilities at Ancona Ferry Terminal would not have won Loo of the Year Award. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that some fellow passengers must have overindulged in curry and lager last night!
I took the train from Ancona to Bologna and changed for Venice on the impressive new Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) service with leather seats and complimentary coffee. Most of the passengers were smartly dressed business men except for 4 loud Americans sitting opposite with their bare feet up on the seats. The two women were painting each other’s toenails and massaging their partners’ feet while shouting at every stop ‘are we at Venice yet?‘ The conductor tried to clarify ‘are you looking for Venezia Mestre or Venezia Santa Lucia?’ ‘Who cares’ yelled the older woman ‘all I want is a ride on a goddam gondola!’ Such finesse in Business Class.
We dramatically travelled on the causeway over the lagoon before finally reaching Venice Santa Lucia. A few more metres and the train would have ended up in the Grand Canal. Regrettably I had no time to spend here, but had fond memories of a holiday Campbell and I had enjoyed in Venice some years ago.
With 2 minutes to spare, I caught the once daily smart Austrian EuroCity train which leaves Venice Santa Lucia every day at 13:50 and arrives at Munich at 20:25. It uses comfortable Austrian coaches with a proper waiter-service restaurant car, and travels via the beautifully scenic Brenner Pass. What a spectacular journey on a clean and well organised train. The scenery was outstanding. I was travelling in a 4 seat 1st Class compartment. One of my travelling companions was a heavy middle aged woman dressed in Austrian National costume, like a chorus member from St Wolfang Amateur Operatic Society’s production of White Horse Inn. She busied herself with sheafs of paper and an elaborate Kardex system - a sort of Susie B doppelgänger, taking bookings perhaps for the Society’s next production. The other person in the carriage was an IT manager from Padua who was very funny and sociable, telling jokes which were generally lost in translation, and insisting we shared his apple pie and wine. Susie B however was having none of it ‘can ye no see I’m oan a diet, and anyway you’re putting me aff ma tickets’ I think she was saying.
The sun was splitting the trees as we headed over the spectacular Brenner Pass and through the Tyrol to Innsbruck on our way to Germany. A real highlight of my train trip so far.Read more