The next day signaled the end of our time in Rome, and to move on once more; this time heading North to the waterways of Venice. It was a reasonably early start to the day at 6:30am, but we wanted to be sure that we’d be at the Roma Termini early as the station is notorious for changing train times; as a friend said, “The board giveth, and the board taketh away”. Sure enough 8:50am, the time for our departure, came and went with no sign of our train with the delays column updating regularly to state the train was running somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes late. We sat in front of the departures board and watched the times flick round as trains came and went, and finally, 9 minutes before the board said the late train was due to arrive it finally gave us a platform number. Normally when you’re given a platform number in Italy that means the train is there and you’d better board it before the departure time otherwise the train will leave without you, however they seemed to have forgotten something quite critical to the trip: the train. Fortunately the train did arrive shortly after the platform had already filled with hopeful passengers and it was a bit like a Mongolian horde trying to board the train with no organisation whatsoever or any regards for common courtesies towards other passengers.
Our previous Italian train between cities had been one of the sort you see in movies where you’d get 6 people in a cabin with a sliding door that opened into a corridor down the carriage. This one was far more modern and was the sort of carriage you’d expect to see on an English train. It was a very long train ride, and it gave me opportunity to catch up on some reading. The approach to Venice by rail is absolutely amazing the first time you see it. The train rockets down the track leaving the mainland behind and then all you can see is the open water until you start to approach the islands of Venezia. We were pretty much straight off the train and onto the number 51 motoscafo (water bus), it costing us €6.50 for a single fare. It seemed a little extortionate considering for a longer ride it would have only cost us €2.10 in Berlin, and €1.00 in Rome; it was a sign of how much more expensive everything in Venice is.
When we arrived on the small island of Lido, we weren’t immediately sure where it was we needed to go. I remembered the hotel being quite close to the waterbus stop, though we saw a bus with the name of the road we wanted to be on printed on it’s sign and so without thinking we ran for the bus and paid for our ticket. It was after all pretty understandable to assume that a bus that had the name of the road you wanted as it’s terminal that it’d be the bus you wanted to get. However, after a few minutes of traveling we started to get suspicious that we were heading in the wrong direction and not long later we had reached the other end of the line, and indeed the opposite end of the island with no signs of life anywhere other than a ferry crossing. By this time our ticket had expired and there was no where to buy a new one from, unsure what to do next we spoke to the bus driver and he agreed to take us back to where we started for no extra fare. So, eventually we had made it back to where we had started but were still left with two major concerns – where the hotel was, and whether or not there was an early enough boat to get us back to the main island for a 6:20am train.
After a 5 minute walk we had stumbled upon the hotel, Le Boulevard – situated about half way between the Eastern and Western shores. We asked the receptionist about the boat and he assured us that the boats ran to and from the island 24 hours a day, and then got out a timetable to show use, then he saw our confusion. It seemed the normal boat did not run 24/7, but there was another which did called the “accelerato” line. With a name like that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was faster, but it was actually a slower line and would take us 55 minutes to get from Lido to Venice. It was a relief, we’d been worried that if we couldn’t get an early boat then after looking around Venice the following day we could have ended up sleeping in the train station. Instead we knew we’d just have to get up extremely early instead.
That evening we explored Lido to see what this small, mostly residential, island had to offer. There wasn’t a great deal there even though we did find an amazing beach on the Western shore. Although Venice is well known for it’s canals it seems Lido did not have as many, which did seem a little strange. For an evening meal I decided to try another Italian made Pizza since the previous once had been disappointing. This one was so much better and was till just as big as the previous one. There was also a really great ice cream place not far from the hotel which served many varieties of ice cream; I tried the black cherry one and it was possibly the best ice cream I have ever tasted.