To Venice for Carnevale!
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
As I don my mask, crossing the Rio Grande on the Rialto, I instantly become a different person. To my right, my friend looks like a cheap Italian imitation of Batman with glowing red eyes. To my left, another friend has sprouted green and blue feathers out of her porcelain forehead, and has a face covered in matching sequins and sparkling glitter that catches the reflected light of the canals. Behind our masks, moral restrictions vanish and seem as distant (in my mind anyway) as the Italian mainland is from this miraculously preserved medieval city. I can’t help thinking my friends and everyone else must feel the same way. This is Carnivale. And we’re in Venice.
The previous Thursday night, we boarded a night train. The whole trip was in peril for a few moments when we realized our train didn’t leave from Termini, Rome’s main station, but rather from Tiburtina, Rome’s secondary station. We were planning to take the metro to the one, and could have taken it to the other station, but it was closed by 10:45 when we showed up at the Cipro metro stop. So here we were, nine semi-sober, American college kids who needed to get clear across to the other side of the city within 40 minutes in order to catch our night train to the party in Venice. There’s the “Oh shit” feeling, then there’s the drunk “Oh shit” feeling which is more like a tingling, tickling sensation instead of the stomach-dropping one that you should experience in moments like these. Our €80 tickets, already bought and in-hand, were worthless unless we could make the train.
So we started walking down the road to find a taxi or two. In five minutes, one stopped next to us, but wouldn’t let us in because he was reserved for someone else. We waved another one down a couple minutes later, but he would only take us in the direction of his house as he was on his way home. The seconds stretched into eternity and I felt the opportunity for a great weekend of fun and “cultural experience” slipping through my fingers. Finally, two empty taxis showed up. We didn’t wait to discuss fare or destination before starting to load our luggage in the back. We caught our train with six minutes to spare.
Our transfer at Bologna was at 5:08 in the morning and the train car’s conductor usually makes the wake up call. While we were deep in slumber, the conductor burst into our cabin. “Rapido Rapido. Scendete subito! Siamo a Bologna. Veloce!” I had subconsciously felt the train stop in my sleep and immediately jumped out of my bunk fully alert. I landed on a friend of mine who had left her headphones in and was still asleep, and she thrashed like a writhing eel monster that was just rudely awoken. In the frenzy that ensued in our cramped compartment, I threw on my shoes and started tossing my things out the window onto the platform. I told my friends to do the same, and I’d catch their bags on the other side. As I ran out of the train, I caught a smirk in the corner of the conductor’s smile. My friends tossed all their things and joined me on the platform. What a ragged group we must have looked like. I had on brown leather shoes, a pair of basketball shorts and an undershirt that was still around my neck.
We expected to see the train take off immediately once we got off. But it waited. And waited some more. It didn’t move for another 20 minutes with the smiling conductor waving goodbye from his cabin window. He had done this on purpose. I guess that would be kind of funny to see six “Oh shit” faces in each cabin you had to wake up. It’s not funny, however, to be on the receiving end. It was OK though because the party, we thought, would start later that day.
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