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Report 1968: A Month in Venice

By BJinNM from New Mexico, Fall 2011

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Page 16 of 28: October 19, 2011 Ghost Train to Nowhere!

Before you start reading this, please make sure you have no coffee, tea, or cola in your mouth, so that when you laugh out loud, it will not spew all over the place.

On Wednesday morning we got up early to make sure we would get to the train station in plenty of time. I had bought minifare tickets on the fast train to Padua and knew I could not change them if we missed the train. We got to the station with time to spare, but the departure track was not yet listed. Finally our train was listed as leaving from Binario (Track) 5. Within a few minutes of departure time, we walked to track 5 and there was a train with the doors open. We couldn't figure out how to tell which car had our assigned seats in it, so we got on the train through the open doors.

Our first hint of a problem should have been that there was not another soul on the entire train, but, hey, maybe we were early. We walked through the train and still couldn't figure out which car we needed to be in and there still was no one else on the train. Okay, so maybe we better get off the train and see if the outside of the cars had numbers on them. Uh, oh, this door seems to be locked now so let's try another. And another and another. I am starting to panic, we start walking through the entire train, and all the doors are locked. There is no one on the waiting platform, so let's go in the other direction and try all the doors again. Nope, they still don't open. We finally see someone on the platform, open a window and start yelling. He went to get us some help, but, uh, oh, again, the train starts moving. We are the only ones on the train, the train is moving and now Venice has been left behind. Oh, there goes Marghere. So now our plan is to get off at Mestre as a voice just came on the PA system and says we will be in the Mestre station for ten minutes. Uh, no, there goes the Mestre station and we don't stop. And remember there is absolutely no one else around. It is the Ghost Train!! Suddenly we noticed we are slowing down and pulling into a rail yard. Slower and slower goes the train, but still not another human being is around. Alan thinks he can see the engineer two cars up, locked into the engine but there is no way to get his attention. Slower and slower the Ghost Train goes until it finally stops! There is a buzzer next to Alan and he is holding it down for all he is worth and suddenly the engineer looks around and gives us a "What in the world are you two doing here and who are you?" look. At last we are saved, that is, if he can understand Alan's Italian! He turns out to be a very kind man who then, through his laughter, is explaining us to the brakeman who is looking at us like we are crazy people.

We jumped down from the train, a distance of about two and a half feet onto the grass between tracks. The first man, then, walks us over to the employees' shuttle bus, explains who we are to the driver, who had a good laugh and a good shake of his head. We were then taken into Mestre to the train station where the driver told us we could catch a train to Padua in eight minutes. Alan ran to get the tickets, using cash in one of the Rapid Ticket machines, and for 5.60 we were at last on our way to Padua. After this experience we spent the rest of the day feeling like every time we went in somewhere, we were going to get locked in. Maybe the Kingston Trio can do a song about us like they did about Charlie on the MTA!

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