It is amazing, certainly amazing, how many people have told you that to travel with these chests is impossible. On the third train out from Nice, crawling across Italia via the walking speed regionals that are the only ones the chests fit on, all alone in the last car on the train, the ticket man walks in, looks at the chests and says “It is IMPOSSIBLE, absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to travel with baggage of this size!!” It is hard to restrain the response “we’re on a train. it is moving. I think we are traveling.”
But the dramatic mystery always works out in the end. It is the word “Circus,” that almost always proves magical. As soon as any official sees the print “Marmalade Circus” on the side of the behemoths that you’ve privately come to call Mass and Inertia, they seem to come to the internal conclusion that whatever we’re up to is alright. Some even smile and laugh.
It took two full days of travel to get to Venecia from Nice. Granted the first was spent mostly in the tiny border station of Ventimelia trying to figure out which trains could hold the chests, and which could not. The night before you had arrived there well prepared to get on a sleeper train strait to Venice, but no luck. Only Gaelyn and Darla got on that train with beds in stead of chairs, on account of having bought tickets that they could not afford to lose. The other three stayed that night outside the station, sleeping in the shadow of a spreading palm tree under the waxing moon, and the smell of the over-full dumpsters ten feet away lulled you to sleep.
Shortly after the encounter with the ticket man, who had stomped away mumbling “mumma mia” (yes, they do actually say that) the reginal train broke down, and the five of you, three men and two chests, spent two and a half hours waiting on a graded track in the sunlight, and leaning against the leaning walls that lilted sideways.
In the end you made it to Venice in the late evening, just after midnight, and just after the last trolley to the camp ground, where the other two waited, left the port. So you spent your first night in Venice sleeping by the light of the full moon as it reflected off the grande canal, and listening to the radio of one of the other stranded travelers who shared the train station’s veranda with you.
Come dawn, you were awoken by a security guard, and took the first boat back to the mainland, there to gently wake the other two. The rest of the day was spent wandering Venice, looking for pitches and enjoying the countless shops of Venician Masks, and Glass.
Though the island of Venice is one of the largest tourist traps in the world, there is something that subtly distinguishes it from places like the Eiffel Tower or the Tower of London. Most such traps are a place within a city – a little area that surrounds something of great fame, where countless thousands of Indonesia-made stickers and baseball caps are sold. Venice though, is itself the attraction. The entire city exists almost exclusively on the sustenance of tourism, which gives the stuff of the place a different quality. The glass, the masks, even the gelatto, it is all incredible. To go there again, would be completely worthwhile. But more money would be better.
It is unfortunate that you could not stay there longer, but it was so expensive, and in order to perform it was necessary to acquire a pass from the government. The representatives of that government were almost unbelievably friendly, and apologized profusely when it became clear that you did not have the necessary visa. Despite this, the experience of Venice was worth the days of travel and trouble.
Now you are headed for Rome, and will be spending the night in front of the station in Florence before you get there. Everything is well, and life is good.