Venice, but verona first. 3-6th August
(I will post photos soon)
…Twas in Verona we arrived before Venice (forgot to mention that!). Its worth noting that it rained all day, very hard. First things first, parking up. Id like to make a long rant about the driving in Italy but I don’t have enough time. Instead, I have far more beef with the signposting. I have a personal vendetta with the sat nav; it has no acknowledgment of one way systems.. at all. Picture this, a forced left turn (narrow street), sat nav says,‘recalculating’ …20 meters a forced right turn (narrower street) ‘recalculating’, further left and right turns...more annoying,‘recalculating(s)’ and a result in a street so narrow that we fear for the survival of our van. The buildings are so high around us it was feeling claustrophobic. Car beeping behind us, how on earth are we going to get out of this? Obviously my first impulses are to put my foot up on the dashboard and repeatedly karate kick the thicko of a woman on the sat nav. Pete appears calm in this situation but the reverse sensors are going off as a constant beep, result in him slamming down on the off button in a abrupt manner. Im curled up and the best thing I can do is bury my head in ‘grill pan eddie’ (the van pillow). Ah suddenly all is well…Freedom. Glad to be free from the maze we vowed this would never happen again.
We parked the van at the city edge and mounted up on our bikes to venture into the city. The cobbled roads and narrowing streets are perfect for bikes but I am not sure the one way systems enjoy us going the opposite direction. Who cared? We just conquered the inner city centre with our voltswagon van! It was still pouring and a particularly heavy downpour meant we had to seek cover. Pete insisted on blatant ignoring signs of prohibiting picnicking and with all due respect to the ridiculous law he proceeding to launch the biggest picnic of his life under one of the arches of Verona’s most prominent landmark, the Arena. Was today a good day? I felt my skin on my face, a particular indictor that stress levels were high (Yup). Happily, we ended up in yet another restaurant were pizza and lasagne was ordered but Pete took a sudden turn and ordered, Tartare de Cavallo (raw horse). He makes apologies to the animal lovers but he had to try it. It looked like a homemade hamburger mix but I never gave Pete the attention, as I am sure he would try to make me eat some. ‘How was it Pete?’, ‘mmm, its tasty…its kind of like eating mince out of a packet’. Yes, real tasty Pete.
So Venice… as I said the pitch was glorious. Another day of chilling, followed by a day excursion into Venice by boat…where yet again it poured with rain all day. It was miserable, not at all like my birthday bike ride. With so many tourists and 2 inch flooding all is bearable if its just two adults but Wilson was soaking and shivering and Jackson was screaming in the backpack. I was feeling for them. I’ve been to Venice three times and don’t think another trip is needed, first with the girls 18 years old (where we walked around in a palace with high heels, taking pictures of our hands on the naked statues bums etc), second on a romantic break with Pete (lovely) and now this. I recognised I had become painfully adverse to buying into a tourist economy but obviously couldn’t help paying about 12 euros on service charges. I suppose this time I saw beyond the bright lights and glossy tourist onslaught; instead a gondola punter smoking under a bridge, glitter on the floor from a restoration project, moody ice-cream servers and stressed waitresses. Here we are just another number. Sure you can appreciate the architecture, beautiful buildings, soak up the Venetian atmosphere but I struggle to feel the authenticity. Still a magnificent city on my return on the boat, I looked at everyone, soaking wet and miserable, thanking the day that ponchos exist.
Good memories but Ciao Bella Venizia.
The next day we were due to leave but wait… Wilson had picked up yet another lady; Melina, Fench, seven years old had invited us to dine with them over at their camp after they had a delightful meeting at the park, again. The family were lovely, crazy-hair dad and a very pretty wife, both with two daughters. The two girls were dishing up and role-playing ‘restaurante’. Neither spoke English but we got by singing rhymes. Every now and then Melina would go over to Wilson and give him affection. Wilson would look at me for reassurance, don’t worry Willy this is just the start me thinks! By the way, I love watching Pete speak French… it suits him. Together we went into the night, talking, playing and eventually exchanging addresses. Making European friends is a delight, I could get used to this.