And then Venice to Milan

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In Venice, I found something fitting for my sister and Mom and Dad, but I’m not telling what because they read this, too. I also found myself shawls and something fun for New Year’s celebrations. Mom, I’m totally supporting the Italian economy.

Before leaving Venice, Justiss and i were doing some of the final shopping and eating and photo-taking rounds, and as we walked down the street by one of the canals, we came across Tom and Catherine, which seems unlikely because they were probably the only other people we would know in Venice. We drank wine with them while they had a sumptuous waterside lunch (gnocchi and squid and polenta) and we laughed about the errors in cross-cultural language usage. I learned, for example, that spunk means jizz in British English (good to know). Fanny to Brits is like pussy to Americans (also important information).

When it was time to go, we speed walked from our hostel to the train station and then meandered over the massive beautiful bridge near it to get licorice for Justiss – a rope of licorice, to be precise – and then we entered the train station half an hour early. At this point we wanted to know whether we needed anything other than our Internet confirmation of having bought tickets, and so we tried to wait in various lines before someone finally muddle through to my mixed up English and Spanish that, no, of course we didn’t need anything else. Aha.

So we got on our train. And no one checked our tickets, which is apparently standard for Italy, as you’ll soon see.

We realized we were arriving later than we’d thought, and the station was huge and gorgeous – like Grand Central but with more floors and weird ramp-like escalators between mini-floors. We tried to find out where to get bus tickets, but information was scarce and despite the fact that it was only around 9 pm, everything was closed or closing.

So we wandered aimlessly, tried to ask a couple official-looking folks what the deal was, but then a tobacco woman yelled at us and I started to become somewhat panicked. This, for me, means becoming desperate enough to start asking random people if they speak Spanish or English and can help the rather pathetic American girls. Fortunately, I chose well and asked an older business man with rather slow but well-pronounced English what we should do. He recognized the seriousness of our plight immediately and marched around the first floor of the train station looking for possible ticketing locations before asking a police officer to help (we hadn’t found any police officers, so already we knew he was our lucky catch). In the meantime, we had now spent half an hour there in the train station and were becoming slightly concerned because the police officer did not recognize our hostel’s street and we had only one hour until we had to check in or… Else.

The sweet older man considered what the police officer was saying, shook his head, then nodded it and told us politely to come with him. I tried to say something else about the bus, but he held up one finger and said ‘shh.’

He took a taxi with us, insisted on paying and did not even tell us his name. He told us that his wife speaks four languages because she is an interpreter, and he apologized for his English (like we weren’t the ones in a foreign country).

When we came safely to our hostel, the redheaded Italian man at the front desk informed us that if you can’t find the tickets, it’s ‘their’ fault and we should have just got on the bus.

“You took a taxi?” he said, and shook his head. I tried to explain then that we had been fortunate and actually didn’t end up paying anyway. He snorted.

“You are women.”

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