The plan was to go to Venice today. Cliff found out that the train we had intended to take was sold out and we could leave at 4:30 a.m. (is there a 4:30 a.m.?) which was unacceptable or 12:30. Cliff bought his ticket yesterday but wasn't sure we wanted to go since we would only have two hours there before coming back. When we went to buy our tickets, the 12:30 was sold out and since we have to travel together on our Eurorail pass, we stayed in Florence. We shopped the market and stores, ate ice cream, and rode the bus home. I remembered well the stop we got on at this morning. We took the bus all around the city and ended up back at the train station never passing our stop. It was a nice view but we were still far from home.
We got off and bought another a ticket (which I found out later we didn't have to do but the were only about $1.50), got back on and rode all around the city again....not coming to our stop! I then showed the bus driver where we were trying to go and he said, "you ride with me thirty minutes! I take care of you! Sit! Sit!" so we began our third trip around the city. I stood up after thirty minutes and he shook his head, "no, sit, sit! I tell you!" so I sat for about another 10 minutes where he said, "next stop". At the next stop, he motioned us off and said "now, you walk". I looked at the unfamiliar surroundings, said "gratzi" (thank you in Italian), and got off with JM in tow. Luckily, he and I were able to use our mapskills (homeschooling in practice) and see we were only a couple of blocks away. We got back to the hotel hours before we were to meet and hung out in the lobby since we had already checked out of our room and they were storing our luggage. We did some homeschooling, read books and JM watched a movie. Once the students started arriving, I left him in the care of a couple of great kids and went in search of something to eat for dinner. I came back with sprite, a pizza slice, crackers, and something that looked like a huge pig in a blanket. We shared it all and it was actually quite good.
Our bus came for the group and we rode to the train station (JM and I's fourth time to be there) and boarded our night train. It was quite confusing because we had our numbers worked out (male and female and family car for the two families) only to find out that the three males that were in a car by themselves were going to have to room with a strange woman. So we reshuffled and ended up with three girls in with her and JM, Debbie, and I with another three of our girls.
What were the sleeper cars like? Imagine a walk in closet just barely big enough to be called a walk in. You open the glass door and there is a narrow standing place. On either side are three bunks with not enough room to sit up and a ladder on the window wall. Yeah, I'm discovering I'm getting a bit claustrophobic in my old age. The bunks are kind of the comfort of covered church pews with a pillow and sheet and blanket. I slept a bit, waking up at every stop and then convincing myself I was not in the tiny coffin sleeping. It is not an experience I'd want to repeat any time soon.