When we were departing Munich, there was a bit of confusion with the buses. Up until this point, we had been greeted with just one bus, but when we went downstairs from the hostel, there were two. One was headed to Stuttgart and Paris, and the one I was to catch was headed to Venice, via Innsbruck.
The bus ride from Munich began with a short sleep. I had to catch up on sleep since the night before was a bit late. Playing pool and getting in a few authentic German beers the night before left me a little bit weary headed, but I made it to the bus without an issue… well without breakfast either but I was okay. Once we were on our way the scenery was amazing the mountains and cliffs were breathtaking… (And still I am told that the Swiss Alps are taller I have got to go there!). We made our way through a valley with tall mountains on both sides of us I didn’t know which way to look, I was just gobsmacked. Coming from Australia where the whole place is just flat to seeing some of the worlds tallest mountain ranges is something else.
So after a few hours we pull into our first rest stop… Welcome to Autogrill, hello pizza, pasta and coffee, Good bye Sauerkraut, Schnitzels and Pretzels. We got out of the bus and it was scorching hot! Infact, as the doors opened the comfortable air conditioned air was sucked out like a vacuum and replaced with hot dry air. It felt like walking through a wall of heat. This is what it would feel like, if they advertised heaters in the electrical store by turning them on! Gees it was hot! Also I didn’t have sunglasses. I lost those back in Prague! Dammit!
The culture change was just amazing. Imagine driving from Sydney to Melbourne and the language is different, the brands of cars on the road are different, Even the products stocked on the shop shelves are different. It was just weird to have such a vast change.
Eventually we arrived in Plus camping Florence. Plus Camping is about 40 minutes out of the the romantic city of Venice, that’s 40 minutes on two buses. We had to stand in line for what felt like an eternity while we were booking in to the camp site . The sun was scorching hot, it hadn’t in any way eased up since our stop at the Autogrill. There was a swimming pool that was just a short walk away. The thought entered my mind of possibly getting in the pool and waiting for the line to get shorter. It was just at that point that staff came out with jugs of cold beer. Suddenly waiting in line seem so bad.
I got a key for my room. A three bed share with en suite. I promptly picked the best bed in the room, dumped my stuff and did a bit of exploring. The campsite had a restaurant, bar, pool, and a small shop. Turns out that they have themed party’s every night… Hmmm What’s on tonight? Toga Party. I hung out at the pool for the rest of the afternoon with a few people from the bus until the party kicked off. I went to my room and grabbed the spare sheets and got my toga on…
Turns out that Aussies in togas are just like Aussies normally, so most people sat around drinking and chatting. It didn’t take too long before I figured yep, I really am too old for this and got back into my normal clothes. Lol what was I thinking. It made for a early night but not before I had a bit of a dance… Getting jiggy with it!
Venice Here I come! I walked out the campsite and crossed the road. I could tell this was Italy, full of crazy drivers! Well not Thailand crazy, but still crazy to some degree! The heat was still ridiculous I was not expecting it to be quite this hot (I would later find out that it was 43°c). I caught the two buses in to Venice and when I got off I had no idea where I was going to or what I wanted to see… Here I was, alone, in the city of love and missing the city of beer!
I had arrived in the Piazzale Roma I walked across a bridge over a small canal and to my right was a gondola. There was a small gathering of people much like pigeons in a park taking photos of it and generally making a fuss over something they had obviously longed to see. For me however, I had a dodgy map (apparently the only kind of map you get of venice) and a will to explore. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this place but I was sure to find out.
The first thing I found out is that there are not a lot of places to hide from the heat. I walked through some very tight alley’s and followed the signs to San Marco Square. This was also the place that every one else was heading, but I kept my cool. As cool as one could keep in such heat. Although I was walking with haste through the tight alley’s I made a special effort to slow down in front of well air conditioned stores. The cold air ran up my legs and it it were not for the fact that I couldn’t afford to shop at the places that had the really good air-con, I would have probably gone in to buy some silly thing simply to stay in the cool air that little bit longer.
Along my walk to San Marco Square I came across at least a dozen shops selling lace and intricate carnival masks and tiny little gondolas. (No I didn’t get a tiny little gondola or a stripy t-shirt with a red scarf). Walking through streets and alleys that were many hundreds of years old was just surreal. Sure the experience was cheapened a bit with the crowds, but you can easily find yourself a little piece of serenity.
The walk to San Marko square was a long one, food was quickly on the agenda. I found a market that had all sorts of food, perhaps not the kebab I was wishing for, but a panini and an ice cold fruit crush. I found a piece of canal side to sit in the shade with my shoes off, get through my lunch and watch the city fly by. The constant movement on the canal was almost hypnotizing. Also the cool air coming up off the water was really nice. I finished lunch and found that I was just a short walk from the Ponte De Realto or Realto Bridge.
The Realto bridge was gorgeous, it was perfectly placed in it’s surroundings, there were dozens of overpriced restaurants along the canal here, obviously because it is one of the most popular tourist locations. I took a few pics, like a good tourist should and continued on my merry way.
So I figure I should skip to the good bit… My feet had that familiar ache, and the heat had certainly taken it’s toll on my freckled features, but I had finally made it, I was now in San Marco Square. Hundreds upon hundreds of people all in awe of the spectacle before them. There was a long line to get into St Mark Basilica that immediately made my decision for me as to whether or not I go in, I decided to silly take in the beauty of this building from the outside.
In the middle of the piazza is the 98 meter tall bell tower of St. Mark. The shadow it casts over the square was the only shade available and was rather crowded. I did the photo thing and made my way around to the waters edge to see the view of the ocean. The view was incredible… I can let the pictures do the talking.
I had an ice cream in the Doge’s palace garden, and decided it was time to head back. The walk back was interesting… Only because I finally managed to get lost in this beautiful city. I won’t bore you with that story. I made my way back and spent the following day at the side of the pool at the campsite… Perfect choice as far as I’m concerned.