And so to Venice we go...

From Gare Part Dieu in Lyon we took the first of three trains to Venice. Our first stop, and change of train, was Chambery Challes on the French side of the Italian border. The railway station was small and we hadn't eaten breakfast but we found a tiny patisserie and tucked into croissant and sandwich.

Our second train, we discovered, was running 40 minutes late and so when we finally arrived in Torino, Italy, we raced (well, walked quickly carrying heavy bags) from the platform to discover we had missed our connection to Venice. This then required a lengthy discussion in broken English and various hand signals (I must speak with Jim about some of his hand signals...) with a man at the ticket counter who managed to book us on another train one hour later. However, our '1st class' carriage wasn't, and we were surrounded by noisy commuters returning home from work who spoke loudly into mobile phones and tapped away at tablet computers all the way from Torino to Venice.

The scenery was ever changing as we sped along, firstly through the French hedged fields we had come to love and finally through quite mountainous surroundings where the houses became chalets and we could see snow on the peaks.

At last we made it to Venice - but due to the change of train we arrived at the Mestre Railway Station instead of the Santa Lucia, close to our hotel. We grabbed a taxi and the driver, who spoke excellent English, was full of praise for Australia. He was headed to Sydney, again, in just a few weeks' time. He dropped us on the Island, as far in as vehicles can go, and then we struggled with our luggage up and down the steps of a bridge over the canal to our hotel. Thankfully it was only 15 minutes' walk and very conveniently located to take in all the sights of Venice. But that's where our enthusiasm for the hotel ceases... another story, for another day.

Venice was delightful as each day we walked kilometres from our hotel to the Rialto Bridge or the Piazza San Marco through narrow cobblestoned streets and laneways full of trattorias and tourist shops. On our first day, heavy black clouds were building throughout the morning and by lunchtime looked quite threatening. We quickly found a trattoria on the canal and seated ourselves just in time for an incredible downpour that went on and on. Lunch was therefore long, and delicious, as was the bottle of pinot grigio!

It was all great fun and we loved traversing the many bridges and stopping to watch as barges and water taxis navigated their way through the narrow canals. It was amazing to see the huge number of tourists still in Venice, despite it being almost Winter, and to hear the number of different languages spoken. Pizza, pasta and good Italian coffee and vino all played a role in our enjoyment of this truly engaging city.