Monday 3rd October
We’ve had the most fantastic experience getting to Venice and today we’re off to explore. Neither of us have been here before so we’re very excited. We’re on a camping site in Punta Sabbioni and from here it’s a 40 minute boat ride to the city. Our neighbours are from near Konstanz and are fascinated by our cycling adventures and kindly give us a citronella coil because the mossies are horrendous. No bikes are allowed in Venice. There are various ferry ticket options but finally we decide on the 72hr pass which means we can use any ferry.
It’s 40€ each. Once in Venice we head to St Marco square and then we meander along the tiny backstreets, over canal bridges, looking for a tourist office.
We give the tourist office our guidebook – München to Venezia, given to us by the tourist office in Munich. I would like to have sent it back to Munich but hopefully someone will benefit from it here. Then we get a ferry and go up the Grand Canal and then find somewhere for lunch. We’ve been eating lunch surreptitiously watching the table in the corner – by surreptitiously I mean we’re pretty much just staring. At the table there are 3 elderly gentlemen and they’re receiving a lot of attention from the waiters. They’re brought a selection of olives the size of satsumas, a magnum of red wine from which they have a jugfull and then a bottle of prosecco amongst various food courses. We are just aout to leave when the waiter comes to us a gives us a complementary glass of Port from his boss at the corner table – very nice! Back on the streets we find another ferry and go back down the Grand Canal and then walk from Realto bridge to St Marco piazza. We need to find the UPS office because we bought a new tent on facebook – a MSR mutha hubba, and sent it to a UK address thinking our Vango would last a bit longer but we decided our Vango is so poor that we’d try our new tent so our good friend Jac has sent it over. Regarding tents – the MSR is one of the most highly rated by cycle tourers and one of its only drawbacks is that the latest edition is red and white. Luckily we managed to find the previous version for sale, unused! I have written to Vango about the performance of their Pulsar 300 and so far I can report that their customer service equals that of their product performance – SHIT! But we’ll see what happens when I escalate!!!
To find the UPS office we seem to have 3 different addresses – one from their website, one from yellow pages and one from Google maps (no I don’t understand either and Daz has just explained it again, and I still don’t understand). The 1st two addresses are a failure. We’re wandering around the backstreets and now we’re asking everyone we meet if they know the address. We’ve been looking for 40minutes and there’s only 30 minutes left until the shop shuts, if indeed there is a shop at this address. Finally we find the right Street and the correct shop number. It’s called ‘Citymedia’ but it’s full of fishing tackle and there’s no shop sign on display. We’re waiting for a customer in front and I’m convinced we’ll never be united with our MSR tent when Daz notices the boxed parcel at his feet – it’s addressed to Daz, it’s our tent! We tell the guy that the address on the website is wrong and he says ‘ yes, of course, it’s the same for all addresses in Venice!!’
The plus side of this is that we find quiet streets away from the crowds of tourists and enjoy a drink at some local bars. We’re acquiring a taste for Prosecco or a Spritz Aperol – it looks like Tizer but contains apple liqueur, Prosecco and fizzy water. Then it’s time to catch our ferry home.
Tuesday 4th October
This morning we put up our new tent; it’s seems palatial compared to the Vango but we’ve lost our large porch but gained a larger sleeping area. The pole system pulls the fabric as tight as a drum. It looks great.
Today we head to the islands; Burano and Torcello (2 fishing islands) and Murano, famous for its glass creations. The first 2 islands are especially pretty, Burano has such a colourful frontage, each house painted a different colour.
And Torcello we climb up the bell tower to admire the views over the lagoon, islands and over to Venice. Murano is less pleasing. There are some incredible glass creations and in one shop we see an American going crazy for a pair of lions (5000€) and in another an Asian seems to be considering a vase for 11000€. Unfortunately in these posh shops photography is prohibited!!
Some of it is gorgeous but there’s also a lot of garish creations that we think are foul but one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. From Murano it’s back to Venice where we get chatting to a couple of ladies (sisters) from Minnesota. Then we head back to test our new tent.
Wednesday 5th October
Our first night in our MSR – fantastic! The high roof and shiny white interior makes it much lighter and more roomy. We’re lying across the tent so our faces are nowhere near the tent walls – an improvement on the Vango but Daz thinks he’s too long so we may have to change our orientation. Today is our last day and the weather has unexpectedly turned cloudy with some rain forecast. We’re going back into Venice to follow a route recommended by the tourist office. A lovely last day in Venice.
Few cities can claim such a priceless art and history heritage as Venice. This unique city with its magical, spectacular scenery is not just beautiful; it is a real miracle of creative genius: a city built on mud, sand and the slime of a difficult, inhospitable landscape.
Venice is the symbol of wise government and freedom. The lagoon was its only defense, there were no palace guards except the Arsenal workers and no parade ground except the sea. During centuries of feudalism and barbarism, Venice symbolised democracy and civilization.
What surprises about Venice, now as in the past, is its impressive building structure – a city built entirely on water. For centuries the Venetians, slowly and stubbornly insisted on recovering even the smallest bit of land from the water.
From the very start, building the city was a real engineering miracle due not only to the skill and intelligence of its builders but also to the nature of the place itself.