Eurotrip 2012- Venice Part 1

I think Italy was one of the countries I was most excited to visit. I think what I envisioned myself getting out of this trip and the preferences and ideas I had prior to departure vs. the eventual reality are so bloody far apart. I’d never even heard of Cesky Krumlov before this trip and now it’s cemented itself as a favourite. Italy was in my mind going to be filled with the most delicious food I’d ever tasted and some bloody romance. I’ll just tell you now that Roisin and I both ended up having mixed feelings about some of our Italy experiences. Venice though- he is lovely. He is Venice!

We stayed at Camping Village Jolly in the slight eyesore that is Marghera outside of Venice. If I ever go back, I will try to stay in Venice itself as I think that would be a lovely experience. But that being said, Camping Jolly was in fact the best, and I mean BEST campground we stayed at throughout our travels. It’s bloody extravagant when you’re used to hostels and cheap, cheap hotels.

We had our own wee trailer/cabin WITH AIR CONDITIONING. In Italy. A/C. God Bless you Camping Jolly- right across from pools. They had laundry facilities on site that we did take advantage of- a restaurant Ciao Bella, bar, and wee camp store as well as decently priced shuttle service to Venice departing frequently each day.

So we got in, got settled- they had given us a rebate for a meal at Ciao Bella so we waited until the evening to take advantage. The pizza we had there was the best pizza I ended up having my entire time in Italy (more about that later surely). Of course, I went with Hawaiian due to my recent discovery that he’s delicious.

Then we booked a shuttle for the following day to head to Venice and had an early night. The next morning we grabbed a pastry and coffee from the bar and waited for the shuttle- we decided to go 10am-5pm figuring with the heat and walking around we’d surely be tired by then. This ended up being a very wise choice.

The shuttle brings you in to the ferry and boat docks in Santa Croce. With a bit of confusion I wanted to sort out transportation to where we wanted to go in Venice but before we could even really have a look around this guy ushered us towards his boat and then started demanding we pay 10 Euro each to get on. This was not what I’d signed up for… we’d already paid to get to Santa Croce… but in confusion and in a typical tourist stupor we forked over the cash and made our way by boat to San Marco.

Clearly after thinking this through this man had a deal going with the Camping Jolly people… to take our cash for this boat ride- when for a couple Euro we could have just used this wee people mover that was literally a couple feet away from the drop off point (we sorted this all out afterwards). So I was annoyed. I’m on a budget I’ve had to cancel a massive portion of my trip due to financial crap and I’d had this sucker yoink 20 Euros away. This being said- the boat trip is worthwhile if you’re not skint. It does take you in past Dorsoduro and then to San Marco- but be aware of your choices ;)

So when we finally started our Venice adventure we were right in the heart of tourist central- a swift walk to Piazza San Marco. It is beautiful- and it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen. St. Mark’s Basilica is stunning- the whole square is surrounded by incredible architecture. Here’s where I feel like I’m gonna get shunned. We didn’t go into any of this stuff. We looked, we admired, we took photos, we were in awe. But we didn’t go in. The lines… they were… they were just so big. And we of course didn’t have tons of cash to throw around so we opted to walk and adventure through the tiny narrow streets instead. I don’t have any regrets about this decision.

Through our sauntering – mostly map-less through the streets we managed to find the Rialto Bridge and we saw quite a bit of San Marco, San Polo and some of Castello. It was so strange – once we reached the Rialto and I looked over the railing at the view- I realized that this must have been the view that this one artist must have had when he painted these pictures that I’m 90% positive were on my Grandma Hillier’s living room wall for most of my life. If I’m wrong here I’ll eat my words. But the moment I looked up I distinctly remembered these paintings. My brain latched on to that familiarity and hasn’t dropped it since… I need to see those paintings again.

Anyhoo- we got lost only once but then we sorted it out. I couldn’t believe how narrow everything was- how close each building to one another. One thing that did kinda shock me was how run down some of Venice looks. Yes, it’s very old- but while I’ve been spoiled with the upkeep that places like Edinburgh does on their buildings- some places looked like the structural integrity was suffering and I didn’t really expect that.

We had some calamari at some point and some seafood pasta- pretty tasty and then decided we’d better start making our way back to where we got dropped off by the boat. Again, had we prepared a bit more we’d have known to just walk to the people mover- but we forked out yet another 10 Euro each to take a boat back to Santa Croce. *grumpy*

Once we boarded the shuttle the driver was pretending not to understand this French couple who were asking to head back to the campsite earlier than 9pm (which was when their tickets were for)- so I translated but the woman said she didn’t understand French or English – which I assure you must have been total crap. But eventually things got sorted and this couple were able to get back to the site. The shuttle service left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth as I felt swindled and this woman had annoyed me with her lack of helpfulness.

An interesting day no less, lots of exploring and we definitely proved we were the palest ladies in Venice that day.

K

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