Up bright and early, we were at the campground reception office by 8.30 to buy our bus tickets into Venice. The bus stop is right outside the camp gates, and the bus comes every 30 minutes – it couldn’t be easier.
A very helpful local stopped us getting on the wrong bus, and then assisted us with the ‘validate your ticket’ system on board. We clung on for dear life as the driver took off through yet more industrial areas, the double length bendy bus leaping and swerving and swaying as he applied accelerator and brakes with equal ferocity. As we started to worry about how we’d know which was our stop a second brilliantly-helpful local jumped in and let us know that Piazzale Roma was the end of the line, a huge terminal and we couldn’t miss it.
She was right, we couldn’t. The bus headed over the waterway and suddenly we realised we were in VENICE.
The bus depot was like bus depots everywhere, and the huge Rough Guide to Italy i had in my bag was a bit cumbersome just for finding our way. A quick €3 at a street stall, and we had a fab walking map of the city’s main islands, with various routes and points of interest. We knew we wanted to start with St Marks Square – everyone said get there early – so we headed for our first bridge. Where we naturally stopped and ooh-ed at the real-live canals and buildings. We glanced at the map, and saw it would take us a good half an hour to walk to the Basilica. Underneath the bridge was a water taxi station….
A two second hesitation, and we headed for the taxi rank. Possibly the best €70 we’ve ever spent . A spectacular ride in the sunshine along the Grand Canal and through some of the lesser canals, we saw so much. It really was an experience we’ll all remember.
Getting out at the square (reluctantly), we were met by a city rep letting us know that on Mondays they offer free 10 minute rides out to Murano to see the glassblowing. This was on my list of things-to-see, so we took up the chance and stepped back into a taxi – this time for a fast speed bounce across the unbelievable width of grand canal to Murano. Seeing the glass blowing was great, and the tour around the factory shop was interesting (no, we couldn’t afford to buy…). We were then stuck, however, as there was no free taxi back: just the €7 each option for the public taxi. But hey, we got to see yet more of the city from a different side.
Back on the mainland we finally made it inside the magnificent Basilica, and then meandered our way along the scenic walking route through the heart of Venice slowly working our way back to the bus. Stopping for food (at the only non-Italian pizzeria in Venice, it seems. We managed to find one run by a completely frantic chinese family…), and to explore every shop in our path, swooning over shoes, glassware, handbags, and OHHHHHH the hand bound notebooks, avoiding the tv cameras swarming around for George Clooney, we finally found ourselves back at the bus around 5.30, sore-footed but happy.
Checking the bus was definitely the right one, we hopped on board, and held on tight for another swaying, swerving high-speed bus drive back. Keeping an eye out for our stop, we thought we were there, rang the bell and jumped off.
But then realised there were no camping ground gates.
We knew we were close, though, so we started walking along the ( very busy) road in the right direction. Passing a local man cleaning up his front garden, he grinned and said “camping serenissima?”. When we nodded he laughed sympathetically, and let us know we’d got off a stop too soon (no kidding). We just had to keep walking for 3km down the dual carriageway…
Ah well, it’s all an adventure ;)
Things we learned today:
~ Ask the locals, they like to help
~ Check bus names and bus stop names before taking the leap
~ If a free thing is offered, it probably isn’t as free as you think
~ Venice is stunning – we all fell in love
~ A city is an amazingly different place without the constant noise of traffic.
~ A pizza roll is unbelievably good to eat
~ Keeping to a Budget is good, but Sometimes blowing it on a small extravagance will be the very best money you’ve spent in a Very Long time.
~ It is totally possible to make a white sauce from scratch in a motorhome. My carbonara was, and I quote, “incredibly amazing”. I’m ignoring the fact that they were all starving and exhausted, and presuming that had nothing to do with the speed at which they wolfed it down.