MTV Cribs: Mini Chalet Edition: Day 4, Venice
It was with sad hearts that we left Salzburg, as I personally was yearning for an extra day. You can tell Salzburg is special and has so much to offer, far beyond the touristy aspects of it. My favorite places in the world are those that boast of their own unique culture or story, so to speak. It's the same reason that is the foundation for why people love Athens so much, saying that it becomes a part of you and continues to remain far after graduation.
Ok, I'm getting sentimental and will go back to talking about Europe. After packing our bags and checking out of the hostel, Margaret and I ate a quick breakfast and said goodbye to JUFA before making our way to train station. Our train to Venice left at 10:00 sharp and we knew that Austria was similar to Germany in its emphasis of punctuality. Thanks to our friends at Freulein Maria, we were slightly overconfident regarding our knowledge of the layout of Salzburg and chose to walk to the train station, since the sun had finally come out and we had hopes of seeing the more of the mountains.
Unfortunately, at 9:50 we realized that we were not as close as we had thought and hopped on a bus, praying that it was going the correct way towards the train station and not in the opposite direction. We rolled into the crowded bus station and wildly lept off of the steps as we hurdled our way into the station and jumped onto the only train that was leaving at exactly 10:00. Neither of us has seen if it was indeed the correct train that would take us to Venice, but were thankful to have both made it onto the train with all of our bags in tote. The image of Anya in Anastasia, not making it onto the train and shouting "grandmama" as the train flies off into the distance has been replaying in my head since our very first train ride from Frankfurt to Munich. Thankfully, both Margaret and myself have successfully made it onto every train and not reenacted this scene. Personally I would prefer to not bump my head and forget my name, due to amnesia.
We switched trains in a town called Woergel, or something like that. My German is abysmal and for the life of me, I can't remember how to spell the town's name. What I do know is that we had a 23 minute layover, which was ample time to get a slice of pizza and coffee to go.
The train ride to Venice was around four hours, yet the absolutely breathtaking scenery left me far from bored. The sun had at last come out and allowed us to actually witness traveling through the mountains Austria into the Italian countryside.
At 6:20 pm, we arrived at the Venice train station. It was very noisy and crowded and probably the least enjoyable train station we had been in yet. The train station was on the mainland where we were staying, so we decided to check into where we were staying for the night prior to going to the island. After realizing that the bus ticket machine was in fact broken, we hoped on Bus 9 regardless and hoped that no one would check us for tickets. Margaret's directions said that we were the 4th Orlanda stop, which we assumed to mean the 4th stop.
Yet, moments later, we were being dropped off on the side of busy highway with our suitcases, armed with our emergency-only phone plan and very limited Italian.
As cars zoomed around us going 90mph or whatever the equivalent to that is in kilometers per hour, we decided to creepily follow to other girls that looked about our age and were dragging suitcases to see if they knew where they were going. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that they were not staying at the same place and we were back to square one. We decided to attempt walking in the other direction and quickly turned on our data to see if we were even in the right area of Venice.
It turned out that we had gotten off of the bus one stop too soon and were only about half a mile from our destination: Camping Rialto.
At this point, it should be mentioned that Margaret and I had the brilliant idea of staying at a campground in Italy in a small, two person cabin. The website looked decently legitimate and after losing our €60 hotel costs with our changed itinerary, the price tag of $12 per night was sounding pretty dang good. The inner camp counselor in me was completely board with this, plus, I'm always up for an adventure as it makes a much better story in the long run.
We walked up to the front desk of Camping Rialto - that more resembled a tiki hut combined with the Camp Merri-Mac trading post, minus the candy - and we given keys to our cabin, a "mini chalet". As we were about to leave, the girl working the front desk looks at Margaret and goes "Ah your hair! It is a surprise," in reference to the fact that Margaret had recently died the ends of her hair pink. When Margaret revealed the secret, that it was in fact dyed with kool-aid, she looked confused and said "fruit juice?"
Marge and I quickly realized that the language barrier may be too prominent to explain this one and headed on to check into our sweet version of MTV Cribs: Mini Chalet Edition. On the walk down the path, I quickly realized that the campground was a combination of Disney's Fort Wilderness meets Jersey Shore, and a true experience for the books.
Our cabin was about 6 feet by 6 feet, with two twin beds crammed into the cabin decorated by a single poster of Venice on the wall. We looked at each other and burst out laughing, as we got ready to at last journey to the city of Venice.
We walked across the street from Camping Rialto and hopped onto a bus to take us to the island. My initial reaction upon going over the bridge was how similar the landscape of this coast of Italy was to Florida, where I grew up. Maybe it provided a sense of familiarity if nothing else.
Venice is truly a spectacularly stunning city. The colorful gondolas, immaculate sunset, watercolor reflection in the canals- I was practically pinching myself walking over the bridge. Unfortunately, over the years Venice has also become extremely dirty and crowded, which in combination with the narrow streets lead to it being a more stressful visit than anticipated.
We spent the next two hours wandering around eating gelato (strawberry and Nutella is the way to go), taking pictures, going in our first shops of the entire trip so far, and dodging the street vendors trying to sell us selfie sticks. Oh, how the times have changed / sorry I already have one.
Margaret knew of a bridge about a 25 minute walk through the city that we attempted to find, but ended up being under construction. After dealing with the crowds and cobblestone for too long, we were officially tired and a little cranky and most certainly ready for dinner.
With promises of the authentic Italian pasta that I had dreamed of for the past twenty two years as well as free wifi, we at last found somewhere to eat dinner. And yes, it was aboalutely deliicous. After not eating much in Germany, I could not be more thankful for the next week in Italy as it is a guarantee that I will indeed eat well.
We took an 11:00 bus back to home sweet Camping Rialto. Despite the rustic aspect, Camping Rialto was comfortable and everyone we met was extremely nice. We even met some guys from USC, who immediately asked us if we were in #217 because they had heard our American accents. We found it to be slightly creepy that they knew our room number but then learned that they were staying right behind us and heard southern accents. Typical of us to find people from the SEC, even in Europe at an Italian campsite.