Sunday 5th July
Last night was a strange one – it was so hot that at midnight Eric got up and went for a cold shower, and then ended up talking to some other campers for a couple of hours while I dozed in the tent. At 3 in the morning it cooled down and we finally got to sleep. Eric was up again at 5.30, and I was up at 7.30. What is this hot weather doing to us?
Anyway, today we were not cycling (hooray!). Second most important thing: we were visiting Venice! We were out of the campsite by 9 to make the 10KM walk into the city, having decided against taking the bus or the train (may it be noted that I wanted to take the bus, but Eric said ‘Nah let’s walk’ and like the obedient back-seater I’ve become I went along with it). An hour and a half into our walk and we hit a dead-end when we reached the equivalent of an A-road with no pavement – take note people – you cannot walk into Venice! To make things worse my shoes had suddenly started rubbing my heels.
We turned around and went back the way we came (me hobbling, trailing plasters which quickly lost their stickiness on my sweaty ankles – sorry but that’s how it was) where we found a car park stall which sold bus tickets.
(I should quickly explain that in Italy, being the model of efficiency that it is – HAH – you cannot buy a bus ticket on a bus. You have to buy it beforehand somewhere else.)
I asked the man for two tickets in my best Italian.
He asked if we had a car.
I said no, we wanted bus tickets.
He said: it’s not possible. If we had a car, maybe he could sell us tickets, but no, sorry, not possible.
After saying ‘But…’ and pointing a little desperately at the “Bigliteria autobus” sign a few times, which only invited more shaking of the man’s head, I thanked him and left, not really understanding – had he run out of tickets? Had I been mistaken in thinking that he sold bus tickets? And then Eric explained the utterly stupid truth to me – he would only sell us bus tickets if we also parked a car in his car park.
So we tried to give him money for a service that he could provide, and he didn’t want it. We had the money, he had the little box of bus tickets right there… but no.
We were now stranded kilometres from the campsite, and my ankles were bleeding. We began the long walk back in very bad moods.
And then fate gave us a hand, in the form of a bus to Venice pulling up to a stop just as we were passing it. We made a quick decision. We boarded the bus with no tickets. And you know what? I don’t even feel bad. It’s Italy’s fault for being so bloody useless. We wanted to buy tickets!! But would they let us? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS ITALY.
I was formulating several plans of action in case the Caribinieri were waiting for us at our destination, but luckily (and unsurprisingly) we walked away as if we were normal law-abiding citizens rather than the most notorious tandem-riding criminal duo in East Sussex.
I’m not winning any prizes for positivity today, because I was really expecting Venice to be extremely crowded and annoying… but actually it was fine. Some bits were even quiet and empty.
We had a great day wandering around, looking at shops, taking photos, dangling our feet in the water and eating delicious things. I managed to plod around in such a way that my shoes stopped rubbing (Eric was very amused at my flat-footed walk, though he politely managed to refrain from shouting ‘I’m not with her’ to passers by).
Venice is so beautiful almost everywhere you look. Here’s the best photos:
And then at my suggestion (which was heeded) we took the bus back. One illegal bus ride had provided enough of an adrenaline rush for today, so we bought tickets this time, which as it happened couldn’t be validated as the ticket validation machine was broken. Italy has many great qualities, but the ability for anything to work is not one of them.
Monday 6th July
Another stifling night made it hard to sleep.
The morning’s job was to take a package to the post office, which mainly contained Eric’s finally relinquished gym equipment and some old bike parts we no longer need. Another 3 kilos we don’t have to carry: we were both delighted.
After a bit of shopping for a few small items we headed back to Venice for more wandering around. There is no other city I’ve been to where I’ve just been quite happy to walk about admiring the view. Venice is so beautiful and charming that this feels like enough – also maybe we are a bit museum-ed out after Florence and Rome.
We did wonder how long Venice will last – there are a lot of parts where you can see wonky/sunken buildings, doorsteps and stairs which are now under water and crumbling ruined brickwork. For all the money that must pour in from the tourism there are a lot of parts which need repair, and the residents themselves seem rather poor. The delapidated look is all part of the charm, but will Venice still be around in 100 years?
We said our goodbyes to Venice and made our way back to the hot, humid mosquito factory that is Camp Jolly, where we spent another night being bitten to death and gasping like beached fish on top of our sleeping bags. This weather is not fun!