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Inter-rail 1974 Part Three
Apr 29, '21

Rome to Venice

Day : 10 Sunday 10 July 1974

We left Rome at 06:00hrs. The train was packed with Italian Army national service conscripts. It was standing room only to Bologna via Florence where the young lads detrained. We then found a compartment and sat down to enjoy rolling through the sunny Italian countryside. At 14:00hrs we arrived at Venice railway station. Venezia Santa Lucia is the central station of Venice in the north-east of Italy. It is a terminus and located at the northern edge of Venice's historic city.

Venice Water Buses - Venice Vaporetto Fares

We stowed our backpacks in the station’s storage lockers and went exploring.

First we has to purchase a One-Day Travel Card

Biglietto un giorno.

Vaporetti, or public water buses, call at the Ferrovia ACTV stop next to Venezia Santa Lucia Railroad Station.

ABOVE: A vaporetto or public water bus (left) travels on the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge. (On the right is a private water taxi.)

San Marco

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Italian: Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco), commonly known as St Mark's Basilica (Italian: Basilica di San Marco; Venetian: Baxéłega de San Marco), is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello.

Piazza San Marco (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpjattsa sam ˈmarko]; Venetian: Piasa San Marco), often known in English as St Mark's Square, is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as la Piazza ("the Square"). All other urban spaces in the city (except the Piazzetta and the Piazzale Roma) are called campi ("fields"). The Piazzetta ("little Piazza/Square") is an extension of the Piazza towards San Marco basin in its south east corner (see plan). The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together. This article relates to both of them.

We visited San Marco Cathedral/Piazza San Marco, then wandered back streets and blind alleys, finally we found a little pizzerias restaurant and had a fresh pizza from a wood baked oven.

A Fond Farewell

The time whizzed past and we caught the water bus to the station. We decided to make for Trieste and caught the 20:00hrs train arriving at 23:30hrs in time to catch the famous Orient Express bound for Istanbul.

Midnight in Trieste

Day : 11 Monday 11 July 1974

In 1974 Yugoslavia was a Communist country. It have recently open its borders to Western Travellers so we were going to venture behind the Iron Curtain. Trieste was the jumping off point of our whole Inter-rail adventure. Beograd was Serbian capital of the whole country. Growing up in Cold War Britain I felt like I was a spy about to infiltrate enemy territory!

History Lesson

Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers on 6 April 1941. In 1943, a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed by the Partisan resistance. In 1944 King Peter II, then living in exile, recognised it as the legitimate government. The monarchy was subsequently abolished in November 1945. Yugoslavia was renamed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, when a communist government was established. It acquired the territories of Istria, Rijeka, and Zadar from Italy. Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito ruled the country as president until his death in 1980. In 1963, the country was renamed again, as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

The six constituent republics that made up the SFRY were the SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Croatia, SR Macedonia, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia, and SR Slovenia. Serbia contained two Socialist Autonomous Provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo, which after 1974 were largely equal to the other members of the federation. After an economic and political crisis in the 1980s and the rise of nationalism, Yugoslavia broke up along its republics' borders, at first into five countries, leading to the Yugoslav Wars. From 1993 to 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia tried political and military leaders from the former Yugoslavia for war crimes, genocide, and other crimes committed during those wars.

After the breakup, the republics of Montenegro and Serbia formed a reduced federative state, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), known from 2003 to 2006 as Serbia and Montenegro. This state aspired to the status of sole legal successor to the SFRY, but those claims were opposed by the other former republics. Eventually, it accepted the opinion of the Badinter Arbitration Committee about shared succession and in 2003 its official name was changed to Serbia and Montenegro. This state dissolved when Montenegro and Serbia each became independent states in 2006, while Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008.

We boarded the packed train at 12:30am the only room was a cluttered corridor so we sat as best we could on the floor used our packs as pillows. The journey had barely started when we crossed the frontier and their were armed Border Guard to inspect our tickets and passports which only added to Cold War mystery.

We trundled through the night towards Ljubljana Zagreb Vinkovci and Belgrade.


Various carriages join the train and some left. We found a compartment with the Greek family going home for the holidays. They were very friendly and I learnt to the man was a working in a German car factory in Hamburg and that his family were travelling to Athens. So we settled in for the duration having found the right part of the train.

We shared our food and drink, he played to fiddle and I played my guitar. We trundled on the night to Niš and by dawn onward to Skopje.

Day : 12 Tuesday 12 July 1974

At Skopje there was a rush for water and the packed train had on share one drinking tap with a hose pipe attached. The Greeks were in a playful mood a squirted the hose at the people on the train! It was that hot in a morning Sun. About 10:00hrs we were at the Greek border crossing. There were armed guards everywhere because Turkey were about invade Cyprus.


On 2 July 1974, Makarios wrote an open letter to President Gizikis complaining bluntly that 'cadres of the Greek military regime support and direct the activities of the 'EOKA-B' terrorist organisation'. He also ordered that Greece remove some 600 Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard from Cyprus. The Greek Government's immediate reply was to order the go-ahead of the coup. On 15 July 1974 sections of the Cypriot National Guard, led by its Greek officers, overthrew the government.

There may be Trouble ahead!

We knew nothing at the time! We had walked into history and it was exciting.

We were ordered off the train by gun point. Our passports checked and allowed on the train again. The border guards were still not happy and searched the train again. At this point I was camped out in the corridor by the loo. A guard pointed machine gun at me and indicated toward the the toilet. I shrugged my shoulders and went bursting though the door, let out a horrifying scream and came out double quick!

Curious I went to investigate? Two and half days of human waste and stench greeted me. I laughed at the picture of the armed guard sun glasses on and machine gun at the ready had been defeated by such a find!

Taking a Break at Thessaloniki

It was 12:30hrs when we rolled into Thessaloniki.

New Thessaloniki Railway Station

The New Thessaloniki Railway Station (Greek: Νέος Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός Θεσσαλονίκης, Neos Sidirodromikos Stathmos Thessalonikis) is the main central passenger railway station and terminal of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city. It is located in the central quarter of Xirokrini on Monastiriou Street and was inaugurated on 12 June 1961, the passenger station replaced the old and much smaller passenger station which now handles the city's cargo rail, hence the name "new railway station" which has been retained.


We headed out of the station and found a convenient restaurant and tucked into a Ouzo, a Greek salad, moussaka and a bottle of Retsina! We want the full Greek experience!!! That was our mistake for the rest of the day was spent in a alcoholic haze!!!

The flavor of retsina, a wine infused with the resin of Aleppo pine trees, has often been likened to turpentine, even by people who like the stuff. Most modern retsinas are made with poor, thin wine. A potent addition of resin masks the dullness of the base with a sharp, bracing pungency.


Ouzo (Greek: ούζο, IPA: [ˈuzo]) is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. It is made from rectified spirits that have undergone a process of distillation and flavoring. Its taste is similar to other anise liquors like rakı, arak, pastis and sambuca.


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Retsina (Greek: Ρετσίνα) is a Greek white (or rosé) resinated wine, which has been made for at least 2,000 years. Its unique flavor is said to have originated from the practice of sealing wine vessels, particularly amphorae, with Aleppo Pine resin in ancient times. Before the invention of impermeable glass bottles, oxygen caused many wines to spoil within the year. Pine resin helped keep air out, while infusing the wine with resin aroma. The Romans began to use barrels in the 3rd century AD, removing any oenological necessity for resin, but the flavor itself was so popular that the style is still widespread today.


Moussaka (/muːˈsɑːkə/, UK also /ˌmuːsəˈkɑː/, US also /ˌmuːsɑːˈkɑː/) is an eggplant- or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, which is common in the Balkans and the Middle East, with many local and regional variations.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

It was HOT! The lunchtime repas hit the spot as we ventured outside once again! No one was to be been seen except for what appeared to be a bush with two legs walking up the middle of the road! I made Larry laugh by saying, “There goes a poorly disguised urban guerilla!”

We staggered onward toward the White Tower.

The White Tower of Thessaloniki (Greek: Λευκός Πύργος Lefkós Pýrgos; Turkish: Beyaz Kule; Ladino: Kuli Blanka) is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece. The present tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification, known to have been mentioned around the 12th century, that the Ottoman Empire reconstructed to fortify the city's harbour sometime after Sultan Murad II captured Thessaloniki in 1430. The tower became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions during the period of Ottoman rule.

And found ourselves at Museum....

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki (Greek: Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Θεσσαλονίκης Arkheoloyikó Mousío Thessaloníkis) is a museum in Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece. It holds and interprets artifacts from the Prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the region of Macedonia in general.

I vaguely remember looking at the Greek Helmet and thinking they are very tiny!!! Their heads must have really small?

We bumped into some Australian backpackers who were doing the same things and exchanged some banter. Once more my head spinning we headed for some park benches and a much needed nap! Zzzz

Statue of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki

The statue of Alexander the Great stands majestically on the waterfront of Thessaloniki. Alexander was the king of Macedonia who conquered much of the known world in the fourth century BC. He still lives today in the hearts of Greeks, and is probably the most famous Greek ever born. His conquests spread Greek civilization eastward as far as India.

Alexander the Great Monument

The imposing bronze statue of Alexander the Great riding his faithful companion of 20 years, Bucephalus, dominates Thessaloniki's Nea Paralia, a few meters away from another city landmark, the White Tower. This is one of the city's most photographed sights, which was erected in 1973 with public fundraising. It was unveiled in 1974. The equestrian statue of the Macedonian commander was created by the sculptor Evangelos Moustakas and is the tallest in Greece, reaching almost 6.15 meters in height.

Not a coincidence!

Once a Greek always a Greek!

Once more unto the Breach...

By now it was 20:00hrs and we walked leisurely toward the station via the docks. The coolness of sea breeze was like a balm to my soul as I was lost in thought and memory.

At the station we decided to catch the night train to Athens.....


Apr 29, '21
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