There were really two fundamental flaws with this plan:
1.) Neither Harmony or I speak French OR Italian.
2.) Everything we knew about European train travel we learned from Harry Potter.
The trouble started when we arrived at our four person compartment and met the other two travelers - an elderly French couple who didn't speak a word of English. After a lot of pointing and awkward staring we did eventually get the sleeping arrangements sorted out.
So when we booked our tickets we ended up in a four person "couchette" compartment. A couchette is apparently a padded bench. We were lucky enough to have the top level couchette - suspended about six feet above the floor with nothing but two widely spaced straps to keep us from falling out of the "couchette" while we tried to sleep...on a MOVING TRAIN.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Before bed, we went in search of the dining car. And found...two Italians guys pushing a cart filled with wine and a few cans of Pringles. So, Pringles and nutella wafers for dinner it was!
After a rather restless night we woke up and ate some more nutella wafers with our coffee, pretending to be refreshed and ready for our single day sightseeing in Venice. At right around 9:30, the arrival time on our ticket, and 13 hours after leaving Paris the train slowed down and pulled into the station...at Milan. THREE HOURS from Venice.
We still have no idea what the delay was - apparently there was a "problem" overnight (assuming "problem" means the same thing in Italian as in English). As Harmony pointed out, "We should never have taken a Muggle train."
We did eventually get to Venice and figure out the vapretto system - boat public transit! - and find our (surprisingly upscale) hotel. Our bathroom alone is a 12 on my 10 point scale.
Our sightseeing today mostly consisted of finding an ATM, food, and gelato and taking pictures of buildings that might be famous - since Harmony's photography strategy is "take a picture now and then look up what it actually is later before I post it on Facebook".All that to say that I arrived safely in Europe. I'll be sure to post more photos when I get home. (since reading about sightseeing is even more boring than looking at a million pictures of the Eiffel tower) However I will keep you posted on any exciting train adventures or funny quotes by Harmony.
I'll leave you with an example:
Scene- at the Louvre
Beth: Didn't you have to take Art 101 in college?
Harmony (aghast): No! Of course not! Everything I know about art I learned from the Da Vinci Code.