Venice by day, Paris by morning
This is what traveling with a Eurail Global Pass is all about; wake up in one city and then spend the day in another! From Florence we hopped on Trenitalia’s Frecciargento train to Venice Santa Lucia. Seat reservations are necessary for this high speed route, complete with free Wi-Fi, refreshments and newspapers in first class. Upon arrival in drizzly Venice, we left our luggage at the train station and picked up a city map, ready for our 12 hour stop-over in one of Italy’s most romantic cities.
With a walking tour planned to give us a taste for Venice’s quaint streets and a few of its 410 bridges, we quickly got intimate with our map and felt we were in a maze at times. Although, if you prefer to keep it simple, just follow the crowds down the main streets and they’ll lead you to all the popular attractions in no time.
Venice certainly spoils with views of gondolas meandering down the canals, masks glittering in shop windows and old cobblestone lanes leading to nowhere. No cars here; instead boats line the canals parked outside all the colourful buildings making for a cityscape like no other.
Now it’s that time in the trip when a little slipup leads us on an adventurous hospital visit in a foreign country. Caution to those taking pictures of the boats up close as the steps leading to the canal are very slippery. Jen found this out the hard way as she almost ended up going for an impromptu swim! Instead she saved herself and her camera but in doing so cut up her hand; luckily all this happened right outside the local hospital.
All bandaged up, we continued our tour to Venice’s main attraction: the Basilica and Piazza di San Marco. The piazza is buzzing with people feeding pigeons, waiting in line to enter the basilica and others taking in the views of the water lined with gondolas. From here we looped back towards the train station, crossing the Rialto bridge where tourists swarm for some of the most iconic photos of Venice.
What to do after realizing that this is our last afternoon in Italy? Head to the yummiest looking gelato stand and sit on the steps of one of Venice’s bridges to take it all in. Saying goodbye to Italy is bittersweet, but our sights are set on waking up in Paris, made possible by Thello’s convenient overnight train*.
After being shown to our cozy sleeper cabin for the night, we looked out the window as the train pulled out from Venice’s train station and were treated to a spectacular view of the city on the water in dusk’s warm light. Then we enjoyed a welcome drink of champagne in the restaurant car which, along with breakfast, is offered to first class travelers. This is where the experience of train travel comes to life as fellow travelers chit chat and swap stories over dinner and drinks before retiring to their room with a view.
Destination: PARIS! We arrived in Paris Gare de Lyon station the next morning. What a smart way to cover a large distance if your daylight travel time is precious for touring, but who’s isn’t?
*Eurail Passes are not valid on the Thello overnight train, so you may purchase these tickets separately.