This is the fifth of the series on vacation travel. The first four installments hashed through travails of newbies in a strange land. We figured that once we got things straightened out our travel adventures would wind down. Not quite.
Initially we had great plans for Venice. We were going to take the boat trip back to Burano, which was such a delight the previous time we were this way. Maybe we’ve gotten older, but this time we decided to invest the spare day just lounging around the city and seeing more of what we missed before. We didn’t even do a repeat of the water taxi tour. Our next encounter with the Italian transportation was to be the train ride from Venice to Sorrento.
Came the morning, we had the great breakfast at the Hotel Nazionale and took our bags down for the hike to the train station. Raining. The only time it rained on us in Italy, and Barbara got to use her umbrella. Fortunately it’s only about 600 feet from the hotel to the Santa Lucia station.
Santa Lucia is much improved since 2002. The train company has spent some money and brought the interior into the 21st century. The big board is now all electronic. And look, there’s our train to Naples.
Rain, no problem We were ready in plenty of time, waiting for 9413 to pull into the station.
The last time we saw Venice. Heading back across the causeway in the rain.
Forget about airline travel. Nothing beats heading across country on a modern train. It was a five-hour trip to Naples, but it was anything but tiring. The train company served snacks, and we watched the countryside zip by. Stops in Florence and Rome.
Finally Naples Centrale, where we would need to catch the local train to Sorrento. This station has also witnessed modernization in the past twelve years. It’s still necessary, however, to head down to the lower level to catch the Circumvesuvia train to Sorrento. Our train pass didn’t cover this private line, so we had to first step over to a window and purchase a couple of tickets.
4.10 Euros from Naples to Sorrento. Not bad. But the trip was worth it. And the adventure began.
We did go down to the lower level where the Circumvesuvia trains stopped. We did find the platform for the next train to Sorrento. We did wait for our train there. We did get on the first train out. The train car was packed with people wanting to get out of Naples in the afternoon. This was not the train to Sorrento. This was the train to Sarno. We did not want to go to Sarno. A passenger told us to get off at the Barra station and wait for the next train. That would be the train to Sorrento. See the map.
It was an easy mistake to make. It was easy to fix, as well. Almost.
The train came. It stopped. The doors opened. The car was packed. We went to the next car. It was packed, as well. We made ourselves very unpopular by pushing our way onto the train. The doors closed, and the train started. We could not sit down. We could barely move. I could not get a photo. Here is a photo taken on the return trip when there about 1/10 as many people.
More people got on. Some teenagers got on. They piled their sports bags in the middle of the floor and stood around pushing each other and making all kinds of ruckus. As if there were not enough ruckus already. I began to throw my elbow out, and got us some breathing room. Another passenger told us he rides this train every day, and there’s always this group.
It was not a long trip, but there were many stops. Sorrento is out on a peninsula, and it’s the last stop on the line. People started getting off at the stops, and finally some room opened up. The train came to the end of the line at Sorrento, and we again stood in the open air.
We needed to get to the hotel. I told Barbara, “It’s this way.” Barbara had long since lost faith in anything I said. “We don’t know which way the hotel is, “she said.” She was wrong. Before leaving San Antonio I had made a study of the map. The hotel was just down the street.
We just go up to the street, and the hotel is just a half a mile on further down.
I couldn’t get any respect. We went back to the station parking lot, and I signaled for a taxi. Again, it was one of those modern van style cabs, and the driver was eager to take us a half mile for the standard fare of 18 Euros. Plus a two-Euro tip. That’s something like 30 U.S. dollars to replace a 15-minute walk. In a way it was worth it. The driver knew the place. He unloaded out bags at the entrance and pressed the buzzer. Then he left.
It would never have occurred to us that we would be required to press a buzzer at the gate for somebody to unlock it and let us in. But that’s what we paid the $30 for. For being stupid.
Hey! Sorrento has its own transportation, and we still had the ride back to Naples and Rome by train. And on Thursday there was the promise of another train ride to the airport, a couple of flights back to San Antonio and another cab ride home. What adventure awaited? We looked forward in anticipation.