Venice: Fireballs and Hangovers

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

We took the toll road north from Florence towards Venice. When we got to Bologna we somehow managed to take the wrong turn and started heading towards Milan. The first exit we came to was 15 km later, a quick illegal u-turn later and 15 km back and we were on the right road again...but not for long. We somehow missed another turnoff to Venice and ended up heading this time for Ancona, towards the south east, instead of heading northeast. We found an alternate route via Ravenna then up the coast road. No worries we thought, should be a nice scenic drive along the water.

We were wrong. The road to Venice via Ravenna is the crappest road ever. No scenery, heaps of trucks. Lots of traffic and 70 % of the time the speed limit was 50 km/h. What should have taken maybe two and half hours took about five hours. We made it eventually and found a great campsite overlooking the water toward Venice. Within an hour of our arrival over 30 other campers had arrived and set up leaving not much room left vacant. We had a pizza at the restaurant for dinner.

We spent Tuesday in Venice. We caught the crowded boat over and wandered around for a few hours. Everyone gets lost in Venice so we didn't even get our map out all morning and just went wherever we felt, which was usually away from the crowds. In San Marco Piazza there are thousands of Pigeons and thousands of people trying to feed them, take photos of them or avoid them. Every now and then, someone would burst a balloon and the flocks would take to the air, do a few laps and land again to start the cycle again. We managed to avoid being targets for their aerial bombing raids, others weren't so lucky.

After the circus of the piazza, we started to try to get away from the masses. We had only one rule: when faced with a choice of which alley to take, we always chose the smaller emptier one. This led us down some dead ends and to canals with no bridges, but worked in the long run because we found the narrowest street in Venice. It was about shoulder width apart and led to a narrow canal that not too many tourists would see.

We scoffed down another pizza for lunch. When we asked the waiter where we were on our map he circled a spot on the opposite side of town. We were a long way from the dock where we were to catch our ferry back home again. With our map in hand we tried to navigate our way home again. Over bridges, along canals, through piazza's and with the help of a couple of Aussie girls from Perth we made our way through the maze.

I had a few beers with dinner and then a few more after that at the campsite bar. I spoke to a few Aussie crew on a Contiki tour then some other people then things get blluuurrrrryyyy and a dunno whathappend afterthattttt...hic

Not well enough to travel the next day, quiet day round the campsite recovering. Mandy helped me through it with a surprising amount of undeserved sympathy.....

One other thing happened on that last afternoon. Our campground was next to the main port of Venice and was surrounded by factories. Late in the day I noticed everyone in the camp was looking over my shoulder at something. When I turned around there were two massive fireballs erupting from industrial pipes into the sky. It roared all night and didn't subside until the next morning when we were packing up. Check out the photo above.
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