28th- 30th April…..Venice
We arrived at Venezia Camping Village which is an Acsi site. This campsite was recommended to us by a Scottish couple we met during our visit to Lake Garda. They told us of the wonderful facilities there including an indoor swimming pool and a spa and the location was only 4km from the bus station on Venice. Elaine bought a guide book from the camp shop and it recommended a walking tour as the best way to see Venice. Return bus tickets for the pair of us cost 6 euros and armed with those, the guide book and map, our shoulder bags filled with a nice lunch and drinks (Elaine had been warned about the cost of a coffee in St Mark’s Square) we set early Friday to catch the bus. The journey on the bendy bus took only 8 minutes and having crossed the long bridge we arrived at the Piazzale Roma which is the hub for travelling into Venezia (Venice). This is the bus depot and large car park and the end of wheeled transport in Venice. From here on, nothing travels on four wheels. Any deliveries are done boat or by people pulling large trolleys. During the day we saw, in different places, the large DHL delivery boat laden with parcels and packages rushing around the, sometimes, narrow waterways.
There are 400 bridges in Venice and countless narrow and wide canals, wider shop lined streets often ending in very narrow passages and sign posting was at the minimum except for arrows pointing at the more famous place to find. It did take us a little while to find our way to, where the book said, was a good place to start. Thank goodness for google maps and despite the fact that it occasionally wanted us to walk down a canal (on the water?) it got us there. I know Elaine and I felt the same. We both , in our own ways, had ideas on what Venice would be like from things we had read and pictures we had seen over the times. I think we were both so surprised by just how wonderful this place is. Over the years we have both visited lots of wonderful cities especially since we started our motorhome European tour in 2014. Normally we would tour a city, guide book in hand, going from one featured place to another. Visiting Venice, for us, was totally different. Every street we walked down, every canal, wide or narrow, we saw, every bridge we crossed all had a fascination and it just got better and better the further into the city we got.
Many shops sold very fancy masks and plague masks with their very distinctive long hooked nose and very ornate old fashioned costumes.
Murano glass could be seen in many of the shops that lined most of the larger streets and we were tempted to buy a lovely glass statue but storage in our motorhome is at a premium and just think how we would feel if we broke such a lovely piece as we travelled around. Jewellery shops were everywhere and the very fancy Italian glass pieces were displayed prominently to tempt people into spending their money. Elaine and I expected it to be expensive in Venice but we were quite surprised just how reasonable things were, that was until we went down one quite wide street and either side were large shops selling high end goods. One shop had a man’s tee shirt and shorts on a dummy in their widow that would set you back just over £640. The Prada store had handbags ranging from 1850 / 2496 euros each in their window, enough to buy quite a reasonable second-hand car.
We got used to following the guide book map and got around really quite well. We headed for the famous Rialto Bridge because we needed to cross the Grand Canal so we could get down to St Mark’s Square.
Unfortunately it was there that we came across our only disappointment of the day. The Rialto Bridge was under extensive repair and although we joined the throngs of people crossing over it there would be no photograph as it was completely shrouded by tarpaulin. We entered St Mark’s Square by going through arch under the Clock Tower into the square itself and we just didn’t know where to look first.
This symbol of the city’s beauty took our breath away. The Basilica is truly amazing; the vast square, the Renaissance library which is distinguished by the sheer symmetry of the arches and architraves with the statues all along the top and the Ducal Palace all vied for our attention. No wonder coffee costs so much at one of the large cafes either side of the square. Each had a band playing music to their own customers whilst they sat in the sunshine. We walked down to the end of the square and despite the dire warnings on display there we risked heavy fines by sitting on the steps there (crime number one) and we enjoyed the nice lunch Elaine had prepared for us (crime number 2) whilst we enjoyed the jazz music from the nearest café.
Maybe it was because the patrons of the cafés were paying 15 euros for their cups of coffee.
Refreshed, we marched on and further along we crossed over the Ponte del Accademia so we could visit the Chiesa del Salute a very large church which then let us see the very wide canal called Canale Della Guidecca with the myriad of large and small boats sailing up and down its length.
We had spent 7 hours walking around Venice so we were two tired but happy people who arrived back at the bus terminus to catch our bus back to the campsite.
1st-2nd May……..Novigrad, Croatia
We left Venezia Camping Village and had a bit of a wet drive heading for Croatia. The night before we had looked up what we were to expect on our journey considering that we had to drive across Slovenia first of all. Google told us that all motorways in Slovenia are toll roads and for our sized van then we would have to buy a whole day vignette to travel on them and we would be across in about an hour and a half. So we planned our journey to avoid motorways so it meant we entered Slovenia on quite narrow roads and wasn’t long before we were soon queuing to show our passports at the border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia even though both countries are members of the EU. The two border guards seemed bored and didn’t even glance at our passports as Elaine tried to present them through the window.
We pulled into the vast, beautiful site called the Aminess Sirena Campsite having done just 139 miles.
Novigrad is a beautiful harbour town near the top of the Istria peninsula and as we sit here in our motorhome we have a great view of the Adriatic. The currency here is the Kuna so we walked along the coastline to get to a bank so we could get some money and found Novigrad to be a lovely little town with a very pretty centre right by the very large harbour. Despite the fact that it was a Sunday we did manage to find a shop open so we could buy an English language travel book about Croatia. We have spent today planning and looking at the book we think we are going to have a good time in Croatia. Elaine has planned a route around the ten best places to see in Croatia that I found on a travel site. Elaine is already looking at Budapest and then Vienna as our follow up from here but who knows. So far we have done 5286 miles on our trip so far since October and I think we will have a few more miles on the clock before we get back.