Well, we had set ourselves up with a day journey by rail across France, Italy and Austria to Vienna. Roughly 17 hours in total but there were three of us, so time would go quickly…would
We were due to attend the Rail Forum in 2 days and there was one concern that could jeopardise us getting there in time for setup and rehearsals. We had a 15 minutes connection in Milan, but we had faith in the system so we crossed our fingers and went for it.
First stop: Ventimiglia
We bought our France to Italy ticket at the station and left Antibes at 06.26h on our way to Ventimiglia (our first change of the day) the rising sun greeted us over the sea and the views across the Mediterranean were breathtaking. We arrived on time at Ventimiglia and what better way to really start the day than with an Italian breakfast: croissant, coffee and freshly squeezed oranges!
InterCity to Milan
Off we set on our next train, an InterCity on its way to Milan. I already had the rail e-ticket for this leg of the journey, so we settled down in our compartment while the train carried us into Genoa where it headed back up into the countryside. We waved goodbye to the Mediterranean and said hello to the flat plains, rice fields and cattle of the river Po valley, which we crossed on our way through to Pavia. If you want a good risotto this is the place to buy your rice. We were getting hungry as we moved towards lunch time and a quick Panini later from the sandwich bar revived us. Unfortunately, this would be our only meal, as we were to find out that this was the only buffet (sandwich service) on our whole trip. If we had known that in advance we would have stocked up.
Changing trains can be challenging
Remember the 15 minutes connection time? Well, this was now being eaten up along the way and on arrival, we had only 5 minutes to find the platform and our next connection a Frecciabianca (white arrow). We jumped off the train looking for the platform number and from the large timetable screen, saw that it was number 10. My colleague Katrin took control and like a human bowling ball carved a way through the masses on her way to platform 18, myself and Eve-Marie thankfully followed in her wake. We made the connection with a minute to spare only for the train to hang on for more stragglers, but who cares, we were on our way to Venice and the steward served us a snack and a glass of Italian white wine – time to relax.
The air conditioning couldn’t cope with the heat and as the temperature rose to the low 30s we started to melt into our seats, but again the views across vineyards more than made up for it. We were able to continue our preparation for the Rail Forum using the table as our work desk, this trip was proving to be very productive and the hours flew by, or should I say, rolled by ;)
Venice to Vienna: 7 hours trip on an EuroCity
Our next change from Venice to Vienna would be our longest leg, 7 hours from start to finish on a EuroCity but thankfully our compartment was extremely comfortable. At Vienna, we had to print our ticket for the cross-border leg. This meant typing in full name and PNR Number for the rail ticket kiosk to provide us with an ATB type ticket for the rest of the journey. The train was packed due to it being the end of a long weekend for Austrians, tourism was the winner.
The views were now pretty spectacular, the Carnic Alps started to grow before us and we winded our way through the beautiful scenery and on our way to Vienna. We arrived on time at 23:40 with some great memories and also much work was done to prepare ourselves for the forum.