The train shot off and we finally breathed.
Looking around, we noted the Verona sign again, hanging high above our platform. We were in fact, in Verona at last…but the station appeared to be abandoned. There were no passengers waiting to board, and there were no trains waiting for the nonexistent passengers. The ticket office and cafe were both sealed up, there wasn’t a soul in sight. Verona is a popular tourist destination and we were told the buses ran all night, but we were the only tourists and there were certainly no buses.
This was not the correct station.
After looking at the informational signs, we learned there are not one, but two train stations in Verona. A big, bustling station in the heart of the city and a small, secluded station which closes at night. We were obviously in the latter.
We sat down with our luggage still strapped on in the unlocked waiting area. There was not a sign of a life to be found. Phoebe and Dorothy and I sat there and prayed silently, per my request. Not only were our dreams of Verona and Juliet’s Hotel fading into the distance, but sleeping in this abandoned station seemed a little frightening and unpleasant.
After a few minutes, Dorothy said she was hungry and I said she should not say that again. We were all hungry and tired and dinner was the least of our worries. Mommy and Daddy had walked outside the station to look around, and this point returned with a number for a cab service. They “happened” to find an English-speaking local man while we were praying and he gave them the taxi information.
They called a cab and, after a bit of a wait, a van appeared and we gleefully flung our backpacks into the back and climbed in. Thankfully, our hotel is the most famous hotel in Verona, so we had no problem communicating our desired destination. The streets of Verona are very narrow and the taxi drivers are kind of crazy, but we soon arrived safely near our destination.
The driver pointed us in the direction of our hotel, we hoisted our bags onto our backs and walked to il Sogno di Giulietta. My dad had scored an awesome deal on our rooms, so we were all more than relieved to approach that famous gate to Juliet’s courtyard and confirm that this was actually the famous hotel. From the dark street, we could see the bronze statue of the young Capulet girl and the millions of graffiti notes, left in the name of love. We rang the bell and Wilmer (another hero of our story) came out of the hotel lobby to the left and unlocked the gate for us.
We walked into the courtyard in a bit of a surreal haze. Everything seems surreal after what we had just gone through, especially something as iconic and anticipated as walking up to Juliet’s house and gazing upon her solemn sculpture. However, we were even more excited about entering the hotel at that moment! We walked into the small lobby and checked in. Wilmer was very nice and took our luggage up the stairs while we took the tiny elevator up to our floor. I didn’t realize you exit the elevator in a different side than you entered it, so I nearly fell into the hallway when Wilmer opened the door/wall I was leaning on.
He handed us the preposterously heavy keys and showed us into our joint rooms. They were the most luxurious hotel rooms I had ever seen and I think we must’ve looked like Little Orphan Annie at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion as we explored. Not to mention we must have looked and smelled pretty terrible. Our rooms had little balconies, which I was eager to stand on (have I mentioned we were in Juliet’s courtyard?) but I couldn’t figure out how to open the door. Wilmer had to do that. Nor could I manage the key to the room, the lights, or the faucets. We came this close to ringing for Wilmer to show us how to use the sink, before we finally figured it out, and I turned the shower on my head, full blast, twice while I was trying to draw a bath for the girls.
As eager as we were to settle in, we went down the courtyard first and took a few pictures with the statue. A Russian ballet troupe was also staying at the hotel, so we helped them take some pictures as well. When we came back up, the girls bathed and got in the queen-sized bed under the down comforting, pretending to be princesses all along. I was on the small bed in the corner, so I was the servant…naturally.
However, even servants have their moments of bliss. When the girls got in bed, I drew the tub again and got in. I didn’t draw much water, and I could only figure out how to send cold water through the shower head, so I had to wash my hair under the low faucet, but I doubt I’ve ever enjoyed a tub more. I laid under the small amount of hot water and just breathed and smiled. I ate a dinner of chocolate from the tub and closed my eyes and pondered my own happiness. I had that strange mix of feeling of wishing someone else was there to enjoy the moment and being so very, very happy to be alone. Of course, there isn’t really anyone I would care to share a tub with at this point, so my feeling of aloneness won out in the end.
In the wee hours of the morning, I climbed into bed in clean clothes, with wet hair and thought about the last time I had been in a bed. Would you count the bunk on the train in Germany? Or go back to the air mattress on the houseboat in Amsterdam?
Before that was the pull-out couch in Haarlem, where I didn’t have a pillow, but before I got that far back into my memory, I was asleep.