After our wonderful stay in Venice, we would travel by train to Brescia with a transfer in Verona. The entire trip would take about two and a half hours – on a normal day.
We had already received the notice that our original train was cancelled and had rebooked to the local train instead of the faster direct train. And now, the rest of the story…
We could see many people sitting outside on the steps of the train station as we walked across the bridge. I have to admit to feeling somewhat smug having changed our tickets the day before. We entered the station and checked the departure board to find our platform. It wasn’t listed yet so we waited for the update.
The arrival board started changing and all we could see up and down the board was “Cancelata”. We checked again and our train was listed on the departure board. Then it changed to ‘ritardo 30’. Dang it.
We waited patiently and then it changed again – “Ritardo 70”. So now we were delayed for 70 minutes. Just like all the others, we were unhappy, but there was nothing we could do.
Next update – Cancelled!
I tried to find out some info on the strike. Not exactly good news. The strike was slated to last until 4:59 pm. Why they were still selling tickets for the earlier times we’ll never know. I quickly went out and booked another train with a departure time of 5:10 pm and then we sat and waited.
I checked the app and they actually had a platform listed so we walked in. I guess everyone else saw the update and packed the platform. Everyone who missed their earlier trains were going to try and squeeze onto this train too.
With everyone jam-packed on the platform, they finally opened the train doors at 5:00 pm – and then the fun began. Everyone pushing and squeezing their way on board. Sue and I ended up lugging our bags upstairs and squeezed into open seats. A nice young guy moved so we could sit next to each other and then we waited.
By the time they did all their pre-trip duties, we ended up 50 minutes late, which meant our connecting train would be long gone by the time we arrived in Verona – and it was.
So we looked for the next train and saw that it hadn’t left as it was delayed by 30 minutes. When we reached the platform, it was a mob scene, just like Venice. There was no way we would get on the train, so time for plan B.
We went to the lobby and thought we might try and get a taxi to Brescia. Though it would cost a bunch, at least we’d make it there.
The cab line was very long and the cabs were few. Plan B was not going to work. Time to head back to the platform. Returning to the lobby, we saw that the platform number had changed. If we could get there quickly, we might have a chance of beating the others and getting on.
Although the train was fairly full, we went towards the front cars that were down a ways from the stairs. Lo and behold, there was space. We scurried on, hoisted the bags into the racks and sat back waiting for the rest of the people to board – and they did – until there was no more room.
We high-fived each other when the train started to roll. About forty-five minutes later we pulled into Brescia Station. We made it!
We started out at 10:30 am and arrived at 10:00 pm. Tired, hungry and worn out. I know it’s part of the Italian culture, they just accept it. But for a country that depends on tourist dollars, they really need to rethink their strategy of screwing up travel for thousands of people.
So my take on it is that they wanted a long weekend. They hurt the very people who pay their salaries. Let’s hope we can avoid any more travel issues.