Summer and I had a pleasant trip in first class to Venice. Only about 4 hours. We’d rested the night before so there wasn’t too much stress involved in getting to the train. However, upon arriving in Venice my directions to the campsite (sister facility to the “campsite” in Rome) weren’t accurate. They were based on a different train station. But we tried to adapt them to our current location.
Venice was already beautiful as we walked out of the train station to see the Grand Canal. Summer and I are both water people so seeing a transportation system based on little ferries was a comforting sight. The weather was cooler but still sunny and there was none of the odor associated with rivers. It was very, very nice.
We turtled our way over bridges and through alleys following the directions given to us by an info booth so that we might find our bus. After a longer distance than we anticipated we found the main bus terminal. We were given some directions, “Take the #2 to the Mestere Station and then take the #11”
Ok, we can do that.
We hopped on the #2 and started riding. It was a very crowded bus and with our packs we took up more room than the average passenger. I took up more room than several average passengers. We rode the #2 for quite a while. I kept expecting to see a stop for “Mestere Station” but this was folly. As I would find out later Mestere is the area and the station is named “Station”. We were told by the driver to get off the bus and catch the #2 in the opposite direction then find a stop with the #11 and get on there. I’m paraphrasing because it was all in Italian and largely consisted of hand gestures pointing at me to get off the bus and stand somewhere on the other side of the street.
So, yeah, we did that.
The #2 showed up after a little while and we got on at the appointed entry point. Italian buses are screwy. They want you to get on in the front or the back and get off in the middle forcing you to part the sea of people already there. Summer being much more narrow than I was able to enter at the back and make her way to the middle. She told me to get near the exit and I tried but by the time we made it to a stop that had the #11 I was only half way there. I nodded to her that we wanted to get off and she did. I however, despite my best efforts, was blocked by the mass of people protecting a man with a cane that had positioned himself in front of the exit. After the doors shut and the very loud stream of profanity escaped me the crowd in front of me appeared much more pliable. I turned to look for Summer and made eye contact. The realization that I was still on the bus was a shock for both of us as I was rolling away. I mashed the stop request button as if the more I pressed it the sooner the bus would stop, it did not, and I ended up jogging the 4 blocks back to Summer with full pack. Needless to say she wasn’t happy. Another aggravating factor for this part of the journey was that nowhere in our directions did it indicate that the #11 that we wanted (there were 2) ran only once per hour and apparently we had just missed it, because we waited another hour at that stop before our bus came.
Finally three hours after we arrived in Venice we were checking in at our campsite. I was able to upgrade us to a cabin with a bathroom and this time the heater/AC was included, although it would be a day before we figured out how to use it. Oh, and the hot water wasn’t working. Venice was off to a bumpy start.
The next morning we figured out the ferry system that would take us into Venice. This was much better than a crowded muti-hour bus trip and as soon as we arrived in the city the romance of Venice was back upon us. The narrow winding streets, the many small canals, the boats for taxis, the lack of garbage, this was a step up from Rome.
We talked to a couple of Gondoliers before making our choice and were very happy with the result. The slow, incredibly skilled, navigation of our Gondolier through the Grand Canal and smaller side canals was, in my opinion, the best way to see Venice. They have their reputation for a reason, it was incredibly romantic and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We filled the rest of our day with window shopping and snacking on bruchetta ending with our ferry ride back to the campsite where we would be introduced to Contiki.
Contiki is a tour company that has been around for quite a while and specializes in tours designed for 18-35 year olds, but in our experience it is only advertised in Australia. We returned to find 6 Contiki busses near our cabin and a bar full of drunken 18 to 22 year old Australians.
We ate, went to the market, bought some beers, and returned to our cabin, hoping to avoid the chaos. But the chaos still found us. The bar was raging and we could hear the bass until 2-something a.m. That was when our paper thin walls began to speak as if we were in someone else’s room our doorknob started moving, persistently.
I called out that we were in the room. Then I banged on the inside of the door, but the knob still moved. It wasn’t until I appeared in the window in my underwear that the girl trying to get into, hopefully, what she thought was her room, realized she had the wrong place. This type of noise and drunken Australian chaos, would persist the rest of the time we were at this campsite. We ended up having to wear earplugs as we could hear people partying until 5am like they were in our room. I wouldn’t recommend it to others…
We spent a day on the beach of the Adriatic and several nights in watching movies in the quiet early hours of the night. Overall it was a very pleasant experience, minus the fact that we were always aware of the number of Aussie youths arriving or departing at any given time. Venice was a fantastic and romantic place for us to spend some time together in the middle of our long times apart.
Then we were off to Austria