CRT+RPK=RTW – Italy 18

rpk here-

since it has been a few days, CR and i are both blogging so be sure to read both, although they might be practically the same.

after our last blog, we hopped a slow loud humid train with the most uncomfortable seats ever constructed to that big castle that you see in all the photos of germany,  (i can never remember the name so it gets a new name every time i talk about it….today it’s Castle von GeFlukenStrausser, but it’s actually Neuschwanstein) and despite the long lines in the sun after fresh sunburns the previous day, obnoxious Italian tourists who thought they owned the place, and no camera in tow, it was pretty.  we had more fun fantasizing about King Ludwig II and this castle which he built for his ‘good friend’, composer Richard Wagner (RIKE-heart FAHG-nuh) than actually seeing the castle itself, but whattyado?  i kinda get the feeling that king Ludie 2, who was believed to have been a little foggy in the noggy anyway, had a special place in his heart for Rikeheart.  CR was in Flipflops the whole day so she was less than excited to be going up and downsteps inside and along mountain paths on the way to the castle.  we had a fantabulous meal at some little german diner including gnocchi and black forest cake and headed back to munchen where we watched Brazil/Croatia at the train station before boarding the overnight train to VENICE!!!!!  each compartment on the train has six bunks – 3 on top of each other on both sides.  CR and i were on the bottoms with stinky britches and backpacks in need of fumigation. along comes two of our three roommates, a young ‘couple’ from arizona who according to him were ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’. not so sure about that, but you’d have to meet them.  then comes Lou from KC who is in a fraternity and drunk as crap off three swallows of cheap white wine.  every third word out of his mouth was an F-bomb andit took him half an hour to find his passport and ticket to give to the non-English speaking conductor, who, needless to say, was thouroughly amused.  we awoke the next morning after a snoring contest between lou the drunk and Arizona male at around 7 and we were just pulling into venezia. 

let me start italy by saying it is so magnificently beautiful, but it is an entirely different beast than the rest of Europe.  after arriving at the station, we loaded up the packs and headed for Italian witch numero uno.  we didn’t have nay cash on our persons and the lady at the tourist office looked WAY down her nose at us when we tried to pay for some boat pass at 4 with a Visa.  It’s only 4 euro she said again.  so i broke out the RPK Translation Technique for what i hoped would be clearer understanding.  ‘WE. DON’T. HAVE. ANY. CASH.  WHERE. IS. CASH. MACHINE. PLEASE.’   not an hour alter, as we were trying to get our bearings around venice, we stopped for an espresso at a small cafe.  CUT TO- an email that RPK sent to Pete the day we left Munich.  RPK-any suggestionson italy? PETE-make sure you either stand at the cafe counter and have your espresso there or sit down and wait for them to come to you and expect to pay a service charge.  CUT TO- rpk and CR at the cafe counter.  RPK- 2 espressos please. hey cr, let’s go sit over there.  SCENE.  after sitting for , umm, about 35 seconds trying to get our bearings, the lady behind the counter starts yelling atus ‘LADY.  LADY.  LADY.  LADY.  YOU MUST GO OR PAY.’  what the F, i thought.  everywhere else we’ve been, it has taken usually 30 minutes or more just to get our check at a cafe, not even taking into account getting the waiter to take a Visaor our cash and mnake change.  we weren’t even done with our itty bitty espressos, about the size of a shot, before we were getting kicked out.  CR needed a cry, i needed a match and some gasoline before leaving the place.  CR got her cry, i was not as fortunate.  an hour into italy, and so far i don’t like the people.  love the scenery, the people gotta go.  we walked around for a while. and walked.  and walked.  and walked.  and.  walked.  and…walked….and…….zzzzzzzzzz……. CR’s books says screw the map, you’ll never decipher the labrynth which is venice, just walk till you find something cool, figure out where you are and start walking again.  we stumbled upon a carlo goldoni statue. any gremlin fans who sawThe Venetian Twins a while back know who that is…..a famous italian playwright who, when his texts are adapted by 4 mid-20s guys from the Midwest, is a lousy playwright.  and we walked around all freakin morning until we finally found our way back to the train station where we grabbed a nearby bite of pizza, some vino, and decided that wehad seen enough of venice.  so we hopped a bus, which actually is a boat, and found our way to Lido which is a small beach island way outside of venice. unfortunately, we weren’t looking for Lido, we were looking for Lido de Jesolo. when we asked for directions, the guy said ‘Lido de Jesolo?  that is very far away from here.  it’s lovely, but very far away.’  awesome.  another couple boats, an actual bus and one screaming old Italian woman later, and we found our way to Lido de Jesolo and the Hotel Marco Polo and the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea where i for the first time ever, i swam in ocean water.  and immediately got freaked out by being in an ocean and thought a whale was going to come and swallow me whole even though it was anly a meter and a half deep and i got out and sat on the beach.  but the taste of salt water on my lips and it my hair and the way it crystalizes on your leg hairs after the water evaporates in the sun on the Italian beach helpedme to forget the long-nosed lady at the train station and the evil cafe waitress and the screaming woman on the bus and remember what this adventure is about.  seeing new things, doing new things, eating new things, drinking new things, and loving my new wife.  then we were off to eat some Italian italian food 

ever wonder why stereotypical Italian men, (sopranos, etc.) are perceived as a little hefty?  it’s because authentic italian food is out of this world.  penne, pizza, calzone, spaghetti, arrabbiata, Gelato (ESPECIALLY THE GELATO) more words that end in vowels than you can think of.  we have completely stuffed ourselves time and time again and can’t get enough.  we enjoyed some of the aforementioned food and some vino (a necessity when gorging yourself on pasta) plus some free shotsof Grappa for being excellent guests while watching good ol Deutschland win it’s second and second-round-qualifying game and we were a little tipsy and off to bed before sitting on beach for 6 hours the next day and getting more sunburned than i have been since my BHP days.  Lido de Jesolo is definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in northen Italy and want to get out of big touristy city.  it’s a lot like the new jersey shore, but simply lovely.  the next morning we left lido and headed back toward Veniceto hop a train to Florence.  this is where things start to get TwilightZone-ish. 

what i’m about to type is quite graphic and i’m going to be describing the most horrific thing i have ever witnessed.  something not pleasant at all.  if you’re faint-hearted, absolutely no joking, skip this next paragraph.

we jump on a train at 1:22 that is supposed to get us to Firenze (Florence to yanks) in three hours.  peachy-keen.  off to see some art, David and Birth of Venus, and piazza after piazza after piazza and have more ice cream and romance and………  at the fourth stop out of Vencie, Padua (Padova to Italians) two american girls sharing our compartment notice a bunch of police outside the train looking under our car, frowning and pointing. i look out my window and see people crowding around and starting to cry and looking as though they are getting sick.  along comes a train porter that says we have to get off the train as there has been an accident.  ‘what, did we run over a cat or something?’  i jokingly thought to myself.  i rise and step out of the compartment and look down next to the carout the hallway window, and before me on the ground is a pair of black boots attached to a pair of dark jeans twisted around each other a few times, not moving.  i grab my pack, and jump off the train as CR is getting her pack down off the shelf above her seat. and there, right in front of me, under the train is the top half of a young man, probably not much younger than myself, wearing a soccer jerseyfrom whatever country he may have been from, with his arms spread above him in utter defeat, dead but still warm.  ever hear the expression, ‘it was like a train wreck, you couldn’t look away’?  it WAS a train wreck, and i couldn’t look away.  not ten feet in front ofme, Death had been right there and snatched this young man right out from under us.  there wasn’t much blood, hardly any at all actually, except a gleaming red ribbon of it on the tracks.  the weight of the train had severed his torso from his legs and twisted the remains up so much that no blood escaped.  at one point, as someone was trying to explain to me that we’d either have to make reservations on another train or get back on this one and wait about 2 hours while they clean up and try to figure out what was going on, i swear to the planets, i thought i saw his head move back and forth a couple times.  after getting down on my haunches and observing further, it was just some authority figures trying to get the torso out from under the train.  my hands are shaking quite a bit right now recounting this even and it’ hard to type. forgive azny errors.  CR was a little woozy, and though she just caught a glance of this unbelievable spectacle before us, i stared.  i could hardly blink.  after getting our own and each others’ bearings, we decided to reboard the train (on a different car this time) and wait. and wait. and wait.  we played a pathetic game of Scrabble just to try to take our minds off this tragedy, but really. on a train full of foreign languages, eye-averting glances, the hypnotizing sounds of train travel, and nothing but your thoughts and your silence-shocked wife for company, what else can one think about?  what’s his name?  where’s he from?  did this really just happen?  was it an accident?  or intentional?  if he dove in front of the train wouldn’t hid face be mangled too?  if he lied down in front of it, wouldn’t someone have tried to save him or stop him?  who has to tell his mother?  why Padua?  why today?  why on our trip around thew world?  if we had stopped for breakfast or a coffee in Lido, we’d have missed our bus and would have had to take a later train.  but all the events of our trip have happened in such a sequence that has now culminated in this macabre and morbid cessation of a human life?  why?  we’ll never know.  just the image of half a man beaten down by a multi-ton train scarred into my memory forever and a hundred or so people who are now eternally connected because of one horrific death somewhere in Italy………..

onward to Florence.  and past it.  the station where we were supposed to get off in Firenze?  our train didn’t stop there.  we had to go almost half way to Rome for the train to stop so we could get off and jump back on a north bound train heading back.  what was supposed to be a three hour ride turned out to be a little over 7 hours. the hotel accommodations’ desk at the train station closed about half an hour before we got there so we walked around until we finally found the Boston Hotel. 

it’s just after 6pm here, and the Australia Brazil game just started.  CR and i are gonna go watch it and then try to catch some Zs as tomorrow, we hit Rome.  More on the rest of Florence next time………..happy fathers day one and all, especially my own Papa, Parker Knox.  im going to try to call tonight which will be this afternoon where you are.  Rapid City is 9 hours behind so it’s just after 9am there.

hopefully, talk to you soon!  rpk out———-
Posted from Italy:

posted Sunday June 2006

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