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Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 5: Verona and Venice

Showers, rain and liquid meals

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While this pic looks like we were arguing, we were actually trying to get the gondola in the shot!

Aug 27

Bought cheap fruit and bread on our way out of the hostel, which came in handy on the four-hour train to Bologna, for which we had to sit in the gangway, between carriages, and even then the inspector charged us a supplement, though he pretended we got on at Arrezzo, which made it a bit less severe. After seven minutes in Bologna we got on the short hop to Verona (1.5 hours), for which we did get a seat, and bussed and walked to the hostel up the hill where we were told there was beds free at the other hostel at the bottom of the hill - d'oh! It was brand new though, and the dorms were nice (and three-quarters empty!), the only problem was the showers, which consisted of a single pole with four shower heads pointing out - I'm no shrinking violet or whatever the phrase is but let's just say for two nights and two days myself and Ollie showered at different times!

We settled outside at a picnic table, where a Cork girl who just finished a degree in Italian and Latin guessed Julie was Irish without speaking because she was making a crisp sandwich! I had four more Splugen (u umlaut) 66CL bottles, and then myself and Ollie tucked into a IR6 700ml bottle of vodka, having grown our drinking group into us three, Irish girl, two New Zealanders, two Australians and two Germans. Though the curfew was 11.30pm, weren't kicked inside until 12.30am, where we drank until 2am even though the night guard turned the lights out at 1am! At least the bed was comfortable, though too hot as ever.

Aug 28

What a day - booted out of the hostel at 9am, and it was closed until 5pm then - so we went for a stroll around Verona, and decided to look for a tent shop, as three into a two-man tent doesn't go (!), and we planned to camp in Venice. The idiot bitch in the Tourist office gave us the wrong directions to the camping store twice in one sitting - we got a bus to the south of the city where a woman told us there was no via Antonio da Legado, so we got a bus to the train station, where they told us that street was on a different route. We ended up outside the city altogether to the west, where a kind hotel porter told us that we were on the right street, but that the camp store was on Via Legado, an entirely different road way, way to the southeast!

Got back to the hostel, had a quick cattle wash (shower), and headed out to dinner before the opera Nabucco at the Arena, which I finally persuaded the other two to go to - tickets only 28,000 (a tenner), and we had a great view of an open-air, Babylonian, fully-orchestrated performance of Verdi's Nabucco that we didn't understand a word of, but it was brilliant! Divided into acts of 50-sih minutes, which made it handy for getting more beer. The highlight was the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Va Pensiero), which was encored even though it was only three quarters through the show!)

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Photo Credit: Camping-fusina.com

Aug 29

After some bother getting to the train station, we now have to wait until 1.10pm (it's 10am) for a slow train that doesn't incur a supplement (personally, I'd just get the Intercity train and pay the £4, but democracy rules on this trip!)

We arrive in Venice anyway, and after a trip to the tourist office we get a bus to Camping Fusina, out right by the sea in Mestre, the industrial mainland area of Venice (I discover that Venice is 117 small islands, connected by 400 bridges - the map resembles one of those puzzles where you draw a line through the maze to the other side!)

We set up the tent, have supermarcato grub, and take a ferry to Venice. 30 mins later, having seen the Basilica di San Marco by accident [Aside: we're now collecting apostles, now having been at the tombs of St Peter and St Mark], we're hopelessly lost! Without anything other than our noses we miraculously return to our little dock bang on time for the next boat, and get back to our tent, which is pitched 15 feet from the water's edge (several gigantic freight ships passed right by us) with 2 bottles of chianti and a double bottle of rose. Got mildly drunk, yet still manage to talk so much shit so loudly, arguing for two hours after Ollie said 'exhaustive' instead of 'exhausting', so much so that a German girl gets out of her tent and asks us to be quiet! Me and Julie sleep in relative comfort in the tent (amazingly, it's too cold) while Ollie sleeps in the open air, whch turned out to be a bad decision.

Aug 30

Awoken at 9am by the freezing cold inside the tent, I get up in search of breakfast. I get ripped off in the campsite breakfast bar (8000 lira, £3.20, for a bowl of cornflakes and coffee) and return to the tent. And then it rained - aargh! Three people and every possession we had inside the tent waiting for it to stop raining for an hour.

Amazed at the bad weather we lounge around the campsite, eventually deciding to return to Venice proper on the ferry to find out details of how to get a train to Slovenia. In true professional style, we get off the boat at 4pm, make our way through the labyrinth city to the Stazionne FS, get the info and make it back the way we came for the 6.10pm boat back (there's only one per hour).

Stuck to a minimal residue of lira, our only nightcap is a bottle of wine between three, my part of which is drank through the sawn-off bottom of a plastic water bottle! We go to bed early, partly in anticipation of getting up early and partly through lack of drink, and the tight squeeze in the tent, even with the rucksacks outside, becomes a nightmare when it starts to rain and doesn't stop all night. Unable to move to one side as Julie is there, and the drenched wall of the tent to my left, I lie perfectly still waiting for the morning.

As it turns out, I wake with a headache from using my towel as a pillow, and clamber out of a soaked sleeping bag to a miserable Venetian dawn, though we can't help gawking at the amazing sunrise.

Posted by BillLehane 09:19 Archived in Italy Tagged churches trains food venice religion verona italy wine holidays europe rail blog interrail

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