A few weeks ago, in the middle of November, Aaron and I had planned a weekend trip to Venice. I know, it sounds so glamorous. Heading off to Italy for the weekend. NBD. I researched, planned, and priced it all out. It was supposed to be one of our last trips before the baby is born at the end of January (travel after 36 weeks can get dicey). We had decided on a new-to-us method of travel: the overnight train. I was hoping that we could scope it out ourselves and decide is this would be a convenient and feasible way to travel with an infant (note, if you have suggestions for this, please share!). Alas, as the famous poem, To a Mouse, by Robert Burns suggests, ''The best laid plans of mice and men/Oft go awry.'' So, here is the story of that one time we were supposed to go to Venice.
In the middle of October, we realized that our travel calendar for November was looking a little bare. November in Europe can be hit or miss with regards to the weather, but that is absolutely no reason to not travel. In fact, sometimes it's a better time to travel because there are fewer tourists, lines aren't as long, and prices are often cheaper. After looking at the map, and deciding what was feasible in a weekend, we decided on Venice. The small town in Italy is famous for it's canals, slowly sinking and often flooded city, colorful masks and hand-blown glass. Airfare was a little more than we wanted to spend, so we decided to try a new way to travel in Europe: overnight train. Many people opt for this because it's cheaper and you don't lose a day to travel. We decided to go a little more upscale than a regular coach and booked ourselves into a private coach since I wanted to be sure I was able to get as much quality sleep as possible.
The overnight train left from Munich was scheduled to travel though Austria, skirt the border with Croatia and then though Italy, ending in Venice at 8:30 in the morning. Sounds perfect! We boarded our first train to Munich from Mannheim at 7:30 in the evening. It was cold and rainy, but it didn't matter. Our train was delayed slightly, but we had plenty of time in Munich to catch our overnight train.
We pulled into the station at 10:45 and went promptly to the boards to locate our next train. When we couldn't find it, we headed to the Deutsche Bahn customer service desk to inquire which track it was on. We were promptly told, ''Das Zug fahrt nicht,'' or in English, ''This train isn't running.'' I tried initially to handle it all in German, but at this proclamation, I quickly asked the employee if we could switch to English. I asked for more clarification, to which he told us that this particular overnight train had been cancelled since September 10, when Oktoberfest started, because of the refugees. I'm not entirely sure what that meant, especially since all trains that traveled the same route were not canceled, only this one specific train, and only on the stretch between Munich and Salzburg, Austria. To be honest, I still don't understand why it is canceled.
So there we were, in Munich, at 11:00 at night, exhausted, and just wanting to go to Venice. Our options were presented to us: take the next available train at 7:30 the next morning to Venice, which would arrive at 2:00, assuming no problems (and, there are always problems). To return, we would then take the overnight train out of Venice at 8:00 on Sunday night, arrive in Salzburg at 4:30 in the morning on Monday, and then take a train from Salzburg to Munich and then Munich to Mannheim, arriving finally in Mannheim at 11:30 in the morning. Originally, we would have arrived at 9:30, meaning we could go into work an hour or so late, and still get a full day of work in (i.e. no vacation time). Needless to say, that new schedule only left us about 30 hours in Venice, and got us back too late to Mannheim.
And that is when the sinking realization came that we would not, in fact, be going to Venice that weekend. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't bummed. I was. I had spent lots of time researching, found a reasonably priced AirBnB to stay in, and had an entire list of places I wanted to see: Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace, St. Marks Basilica. I wanted to buy a mask, ride in a water taxi, and visit the island of Murano. But alas, thanks to Deutsche Bahn, once again, our travel plans were severely disrupted (remember that time we missed our flight to Barcelona?). Maybe Venice is better in the spring anyways. So, unfortunately, Italy remains on the list of ''Countries to Visit Before We Leave.'' At least by then, I will be able to enjoy a glass of vino.