Verona – Lake Garda and Sleeper Train

Sorry for the late post! Here’s some catch-up of our activities. Photos to follow:

Waking up in Verona once again was a lovely experience. We didn’t dilly-dally at all this morning, just packed up, left our bags ready to go for later and went downstairs for another breakfast at Cafeteria Bar Cinque Stella , though this time, we had a nutella brioche and a crema (custard) brioche with our coffees.

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After this, we headed straight to the Arena to catch a bus to our destination for the day – Lake Garda. Lake Garda is a popular holiday destination in northern Italy.  Luckily for us, this meant that there were several buses that went to this place. Unluckily for us, a bus was just leaving the Arena as we got there.  And there wasn’t another for another 30 mins or so.

This turned out to be not too much of an issue as Nick was then able to buy tickets for us from the Tourist Information stand – they were really nice and spoke English really well.

Tickets in hand, we were ready to jump on the 163 bus as soon as it arrived at 10:15am.

It was our first rainy, overcast day in Verona and we were a little doubtful that we had chosen the best day for our excursion.  However, as we travelled the day turned finer and the rain stopped completely. Along the bus route, we saw several of Italy’s themeparks including Gardaland which seems to be the Italian version of Disneyland. Most of our bus emptied out there but Nick and I continued on to a town called Bardolino where we exited.

Initially, we had planned to simply walk up along the river to Garda, but as we disembarked, we discovered a wine festival in full swing along the river front.  Everywhere, people were walking, checking out the food stalls and buying cheap glasses of wine.  What else was there to do but join in?

Again, we had planned to have a lunch once we reached Garda, but with all the interesting and decidedly unhealthy food on offer at the festival, we caved pretty quickly. We first purchased a deep fried cheese pastry, filled to the brim with molten cheese.  Shortly after, we purchased a doughy pretzel and enjoyed that with a glass of wine. The hilarious thing with the wine was that with your first one, you also purchased a glass and wine pouch which you could loop around your neck to keep your glass safe until your next top up.

Everywhere we walked, people were sporting these blue pouches.  There were all sorts of interesting things happening at this festival as well as a really odd guy wearing a gas mask attached to a funnel who was inviting people to pour wine into the funnel like a wine beer-bong. SO ODD!

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Got a thirsty man here…

We walked slowly along the lake to Garda once we exited the festival and shortly after arriving, sat down for a much healthier bite and shared a salad (I have been missing the vitamins of a good salad these last few days supping on pizza and pasta – god help my Summer figure).  The place we lunched at was called Antigua Bodeguita and in addition to the salad, they also provided us a bucket of potato crisps and a jar of peanuts (all for Nick of course).

For the next few hours, we explored Garda but we had a hard deadline of needing to be back in Verona at 5:45pm as this was when our train was due to leave.  We also had to check out of Joyce’s place and collect our belongings.  To be on the safe side, we decided to catch the bus back at 3:20pm.  This turned out to be the best decision as the bus back was sl-o-o-o-ww.

The closer we got to Verona though, the more obvious it became that we had left the rain there for the day.  By the time we got back to the bus stop at the Arena at Piazza Bra it was pouring.  We had planned to walk from Joyce’s place to the station with our luggage, but with the weather as it was, this was looking to be a soggy, miserable option.

Unlikely salvation came in the form of a dodgy umbrella salesman in the piazza.  Look, I can’t really argue with that sort of opportunism and he didn’t rip us off blind.  €5 for an umbrella that kept us mostly dry for the whole walk seemed like a sweet deal.

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Happily lets wife walk in the rain… thanks babe

We collected our things and braved the wet walk to the station.  While it wasn’t as pleasant as the last time it was certainly a much faster journey as we weren’t stopping to gawk at the lovely buildings this time around.

Once we got to the station, we had no issues locating our train and boarding on our way to Milan.  There were a few weird characters on the train (but no worse than you would see on the 96 tram to Brunswick on a Saturday night back in Melbourne) but it was ultimately a pretty boring 2.5 hour ride to Milan.

When we arrived at Milan station, we were a little surprised at the lack of food stores.  We had been hoping to pick up some “train snacks” for our over-night train to Naples but while there were heaps of clothing and other fashion stores, there was basically no place to buy food for the trip.

We were pretty hungry though and as the station was bereft of any interesting looking hot food, we succumbed to the quick and easy option that we usually try to avoid at all costs whilst travelling.  McDonalds.  Maccas. The golden arches.  …I am so ashamed.

After this, we did manage to find a shop selling pastries which we hoped wouldn’t be too stale by morning.  Not the healthy fruit option we had been looking for, but it would have to do.

We then boarded a short train trip to Novara station where we would change to our sleeper train which would take us the rest of the way to Naples. Again, there was a bit of a rough element on this train but as it was a much shorter trip, there were no worries.

Novara station however, felt a little more seedy and unsafe then we had anticipated.  Though, in fairness, the sketchiness could be attributed to it being after 10pm at night and there being no one much else around except a couple of other travellers and a few derelicts.

Our train arrived at 10:38pm and we boarded and made it to our cabin with the conductor’s help.  As he explained kindly to us, he would knock on our door tomorrow morning with a small breakfast for us (lucky, we weren’t expecting anything) when we were approximately 40 minutes out from Naples Central station.

The cabin itself was quite cute with a double bunk (though it could be converted to a triple bunk even),  a small cabinet which turned out to have a sink compartment and we were even provided a couple of amenities kits.

As we were both pretty beat from the long hours of transit, there was really nothing much else to do except to change to our nightclothes, lie down and try to get some shut-eye before arriving at our next destination.

Km’s walked: 15.0

Flights complete: 5/10 (plus one sleeper train trip underway!)

Tomorrow: Naples!

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