On Thursday, our train from Innsbruck to Venice went through the Italian alps and lost a few minutes when it had to slow for some snow on the tracks. At the highest elevations, we passed through villages that were covered in fresh snow; trees were weighed down with 6 or 8 inches of an overnight snowfall.
It was a long train, and we shared a 6-passenger compartment with a couple of frequent travelers Fred and Lila from Melbourne Australia and a Navid from Bangalore, India, on his first trip to Europe. We shared many laughs and photos of each of our travels. Navid’s IPhone had some potential award winners, but we had some laughs at Fred’s expense because his iPad was full of blurry photos. We told him it was the photographer not the iPad.
We had to change trains in Verona, Italy, the town made famous in Romeo and Juliet. But we had no time to see the fake balcony that draws the crowds there. Our connection shortened because of the delayed arrival, and we had little time to find the correct track in this very crowded station. We quickly made it to Track 4; then the train was de-listed and some announcement was made in Italian we didn’t understand. We decided to try to take another train, maybe a local one, on a different line. We went to track 11 and spoke to a conductor. No English, but he was clear we couldn’t go on his train, and he sent us to “Otto.” We knew that was Track 8, so back down the stairs, pushing our luggage past the crowd, we made it upstairs to Track 8, only to find someone who said their train to Milan was coming there. Back down the stairs to read the board, and we found it finally re-posted for Track 3 and we had one minute. Our 10 minutes in Verona ended as we piled into another very long and very full train. We had reserved seats earlier in the day and plunked down in three seats together. And, then the last person to be seated with us was our friend Navid from Bangalore, who works as an engineer on automotive braking systems for Bosch. We calculated the odds at maybe 1 in a 1,000 that we would end up getting seated together, again, especially since his reservation was months ago.
He was concerned about the Australian couple, because he had helped them with their many large suitcases and they didn’t get on the train.
We bid him adieu at the Venice train station. And with 140,000 people adding to the ruin of the city (60,000 residents and 80,000 daily tourists), we were shocked to bump into him late Thursday near the Bridge of Sighs. That’s when we decided to take a photo of him.
During dinner, an aunt and niece next to us from Quincy, Massachusetts, told us that the niece graduated from Greg’s alma mater St. Michael’s College. The aunt knew many of Sue and Regina’s relatives and friends in Quincy.
After dinner, we plowed through the crowds on a series of narrow passageways on the way to our apartment, only to bump into the Australian couple.
Fred and Lila told us about their import company, where they manufacture faucets in China and sell them to all the big box stores in Australia, but we shared some more laughs including how they missed the train. Fred, who didn’t seem to have any infirmity, insisted on taking a photo of us on his iPad and we all howled as one after another was blurry. Finally, we all parted with laughter with one not so blurry image, even though all our heads were chopped off.