Setting: a train platform in Bologna, one fine September afternoon. A train arrives at the appointed time on the expected platform. Two Americans board and find their first-class seats. They then proceed to the dining car and enjoy a pleasant [for a train] meal and a bottle of wine. The husband idly remarks that he's really interested in getting back to the seats and taking a look at the map to check out the route, because he didn't expect the mountainous geography they're seeing.
Such a scene might look something like this:
Unfortunately, the camera fails to capture the following scene, approximately 15 minutes later, when the train pulls into fabled (and previously visited) Florence. To establish context, picture this: Bologna (the origin) is in north-central Italy. The destination, Venice, is north and east of that. Florence, by contrast, is south and west. There are intervening mountains.
When Wendy and I realized that we'd just traveled several hours in the wrong direction after somehow managing to board the wrong train (from the right platform at the right time...) we panicked a bit. The next stop was some unknown destination on the way to Rome, unlikely to be a major train hub. Yikes! We grabbed the luggage and heaved it off the train -- almost leaving a bag behind -- and found ourselves in the main station in Florence on a sticky-hot afternoon, further from Venice than we' d started the day, and without valid tickets.
Long story short [well, too late for that], we did eventually repurchase tickets and make it onto a train later in the day, bound for Venice. We were going to arrive late, miss our scheduled bar walk, and were in general just in a bad mood. At the same time, as I took pains to point out, we were still going to Venice and hadn't actually lost anything other than a little time.
Eventually, we got to our little tiny hotel (perched across the street from the Ferrari store!!) and made it to San Marco plaza for a chance to shed some stress.
We did get to [famous, tiny, overpriced] Harry's Bar that night, to be confronted with pre-made, super-chilled martinis:
But we still had a good time ;)
...and eventually found our way to a fantastic wine bar / restaurant for a meal as they closed the place down around us. All was good in the world, and Venice waited for us the next day.