A 5am start saw us sitting on a bus bound for Venice, via Slovenia. Outside of the summer season most of the ferries between Croatia and Italy aren’t running which makes bus the best (or only) form of transport between them. In a similar manner to Bosnia, Slovenia squeezes its way in between Italy and Croatia, stretching out a narrow vein of land all the way to the sea. This makes for more complicated border crossings than usual. At our first boundary between Croatia and Slovenia we merely sat on the bus while someone came on board and gave our passports a cursory check. This would have been a quick and simple process, but there’s always one in every group… This time it was the women who already had a reputation for running off the bus any time it came to a stop to go looking for a toilet yet again. The bus driver was disgusted when he climbed back aboard to find that she was MIA once more. There was a rather heated and loud ‘discussion’ when she finally got back, but eventually the engine was started up and we set off once more. Literally a mile down the road before the bus had picked up much speed, we stopped at the next border. To gain entry to Italy everyone had to shuffle off the bus, get their baggage from the luggage compartment, walk through an office waving their passport at officials, then queue to get back on the bus a couple of metres past the border. Not the most efficient use of time.
Once the official rigmarole was done we were free to continue on through Italy, stopping off here and there to deposit people until we reached our destination of the infamous Venice. Rather than deal with the higher prices and more complicated directions to locate accommodation, we had opted for staying on the mainland, only a short bus journey away from the main tourist attractions. Finding out where and how to purchase bus tickets took far longer than the trip across to Venice itself.
This was my second time visiting Venice, and probably my last. It’s a unique sight to see, but is progressively becoming more and more of a tourist-trap. It’s still worth spending a
few hours following the crowds around the maze of streets and canals until you become hopelessly lost. The grand canal is beautiful on a sunny day despite the somewhat tacky black gondolas which inevitably remind me of expensive and overly ornate coffins. Rather than pay extortionate fees to clamber into one, your money is better invested in some icecream to keep you going while you wander into the nooks and alleys where shops display their wares. Intricately designed carnaval masks fill some shelves, upmarket fashion lines with unimaginable price-tags are displayed in others. None of these were high on our shopping list for this trip. We walked until we had seen the major sites and were starting to get deja-vu going around corners and over bridges. It was time to try and navigate back to the start relying on intermittent signposts rather than following the crowds who inevitably led the way to dead ends. As the tourist buses started to fill up and depart for the last time, we made our way back to the hotel for our last night of the holiday before we returned to the mayhem of life back home.