Travel by Train to Venice from Southampton with 24 hours of In-transit Food

Train food plus train station food, a good bottle of wine and finally, real food.

You have to be psyched to do this, especially if you’ve had a 39th birthday once or twice.  To meet my cruise, I had to travel by train to Venice from Southampton.  It required a lot of planning, a little luck and a good stomach.

Eurostar Ticket to Paris

The Woman in Seat 51 – A tip of the hat to the original train genius Man in Seat61.com, Mark Smith.

By 8am I left the Queen Mary 2 and grabbed a taxi to the Southampton rail station.  Within an hour, I was on the express train to London, I think it was Victoria Station. Or Waterloo.

Aboard the Eurostar London to Paris

Aboard the Eurostar from London to Paris

Two and one-half hours later, I was in another taxi, going from whatever train station, to St. Pancras Station for my next train, the sleek and speedy Eurostar to Paris.  Note to self: Next time buy the Cunard bus transfer!

Lunch aboard the Eurostar

Lunch aboard the Eurostar

My early morning departure from the Queen Mary 2 didn’t allow me much time for the full breakfast to which I had become accustomed (love those English breakfasts!) So it was a welcome sight to be served my en-seat luncheon aboard the Eurostar. I couldn’t quite make out what everything was, but I was pretty sure that the gelatinous goo on the right was some kind of flan.  The meat in the middle looked suspiciously like pork, so I bypassed that, tried a couple of the noodles, picked at the green stuff and polished off the wine.

Paris meant I had to again haul my too-heavy suitcases up another train platform and thank goodness a nice woman offered to help.  I must have looked awful lying there, crying on the cement floor (not really but I’m sure I looked pathetic.)

Entrance to Gare du Lyon in Paris

Entrance to Gare du Lyon in Paris

Hailed another taxi to go to the next train station, Gare du Lyon, for my overnight Thello train to Venice. Yes, Venice.  Along the way, my taxi driver (who charged me 80 Euro for a 20 minute ride!) veered out of the way to pick up his daughter at a different train station.  She was almost fluent in English and along with my hideous version of some kind of French, we struck up a pigeon conversation about her school and classes.  Finally we sort of arrived at Gare du Lyon.

When I saw how far I had to walk from the taxi to inside the train station, the taxi-driver’s teenage daughter volunteered to pull one of my suitcases into the station with me and made sure I was on the right platform. Yes, I handsomely tipped her dad before we said goodbye, despite being overcharged for the ride between stations. The price to pay for being a tourist, I suppose.

Le Train Bleu restaurant in Paris

Le Train Bleu restaurant in Paris, above L’Express Bleu at Gare du Lyon.

L'Express Bleu restaurant

L’Express Bleu restaurant, the casual version of Le Train Bleu.

Croque Monsieur at L'Express Bleu at Gare du Lyon

My first authentic Croque Monsieur at L’Express Bleu at Gare du Lyon

I was early. Yes, me. Early.  There’s a famous restaurant at this train station, Le Train Bleu, that I had planned on for dinner, but with so much luggage and so little strength, I opted for the commuters version, L’Express Bleu. Sort of a coffee shop edition of the real thing.  Being a bit too jittery, I fell back on good ol’ comfort food, a Croque Monsieur; grilled cheese sandwich with fries. Actually, was a Croque Mademoiselle without the ham.

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Nervously watching the departures board every 8-10 seconds, when my train was announced, I paid the bill and heaved all four bags through the doors, across the station and out to the platform.

Thello train overnight from Paris to Venice.

The Thello train pulls into Gare du Lyon for our overnight to Venice.

Within 20 minutes our train pulled in and everyone without a sleeper crowded to board.  With a little help from strangers, all four bags made it onboard and one by one I wheeled, dragged or carried each one to my room.

Italian wine aboard Thello train

Italian wine aboard Thello train

The conductor handed out a little slip which entitled me to a free welcome aboard cocktail which I promptly downed.  I bought a small bottle of wine and a package of cheese and crackers and headed back to my room.  I didn’t finish the snack, but I certainly enjoyed the wine.

I woke up during the night, peeked out of the window and there we were, in the Italian Alps, a full moon illuminating the snow-capped mountains. Perfect timing. I went right back to sleep.

Approaching Venice by train.

Approaching Venice by train.

By morning we were well into Italy, just a couple of hours to Venice. There wouldn’t be time for breakfast until I arrived at my hotel which I hoped, if we were on time, would be about 10am.  We were. It was.

Waiting for me at the train in Venice was my hired meet and greet to escort me to the water taxi at the foot of the train station.  I was in Venice.

Morning cappuccino at the Hotel Danieli

Morning cappuccino at the Hotel Danieli

At 10am we arrived at the private dock for the Hotel Danieli.  I checked in and was treated to the most wonderfully strong, steamy, foamy cappuccino in all of Italy. Or so it seemed.

Spaghetti at Rooftop of Hotel Danieli

My first meal in Italy; spaghetti pomodoro at the Rooftop Restaurant at the Hotel Danieli

But the real treat was after I checked into my room; lunch on the rooftop of the hotel, overlooking the Grand Canal.

Rooftop view from Hotel Danieli in Venice

Rooftop view of the Grand Canal from Hotel Danieli in Venice.

I had arrived.

Photo credit: Sherry Laskin, except Le Train Bleu and L’Express Bleu credits to Le Train Bleu.


By |February 4th, 2017|Europe Trains, Italy, Trains|

6 Comments

  1. Marian Krueger March 5, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Sherry you have made me want to try this same exact route, but perhaps without the four pieces of luggage. At least you had wine along the way and a place to sleep as well as a great story to tell.

  2. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) March 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Hi Marian,
    Thanks very much. It’s a wonderful way to get to Venice without flying. Next time I’m bringing spinner luggage! Hope you get to do this route soon.

    Sherry

  3. Explore With Ed December 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Really great insight – what a journey!

    Le Train Bleu looks spectacular.

  4. Sherry Kennedy December 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    It’s a long day but worth it to know dinner at Le Train Bleu awaits. Thanks for reading!

  5. Rory February 5, 2017 at 6:31 am

    Have you come across The Man in Seat 61? He runs a great resource for people looking to travel in Europe without flying.

    http://www.seat61.com/

  6. Sherry Kennedy February 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Hi Rory, Thanks for your comment. Yes, in fact I included a link to his website under the photo with my ticket, Seat 51! Mark’s website has tons of great info. Sherry

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