Umm TLC, air-freshner and fan needed
27.07.2013 - 30.07.2013 37 °C
Early Saturday morning we were up (in plenty of time!) and walked with one of our new friends to the train/bus station to get our 08:15 mini-bus to Mestre train station (in between Venice and Padua). We said our goodbyes and then just needed to quickly pop to the ATM to get the cash to pay, opps! it did not accept Visa card, so Nick had no choice but to run in 30 degree heat back into town a 10min run and had to try two more cash points before he could find one that accepted Visa. FYI if you have a Visa card in Slovenia not all the cash points accept them. Unfortunately Nick had ran for no reason as by the time he got back three young asian guys were faffing with bags and a wheel chair and then made us wait while they went to McDonalds to get breakfast! So our journey started in a 7 seater mini-bus with the horrible smell of egg McMuffin's (as most of you know I'm travel sick and despise McDonald's!! ), luckily I fell asleep and the air-con helped make it better for Nick in the front.
In Just two hours we were at VE Mestre station getting our 13 minute train to our 4 star hotel in Padova http://www.hotelgranditalia.it, which was located two seconds outside the station and had the most amazing breakfast that only cost €1 more, plus was cheaper than a hostel for one night, so we enjoyed a little bit of luxury for once!
After dumping our bags we headed off to explore Padova. Now it was HOT, and I'm not good with heat so I may have been a little less enthused then normal (even Nick was struggling with 37 degree heat) but it could have been such a beautiful city had it just had a bit of TLC. The buildings were lovely but dirty and the park area's where large with statues covered in bird poo and two churches which were the only real attractions were covered in scaffolding. On the up side the drinks were cheaper then other places and the restaurant our concierge (oh yea, we had a concierge!) was excellent!
Some of you may be wondering why we were staying in Padua, the answer is because Venice was too expensive to stay in, and it was only a 20 minute train ride away, so we were up early checking out and on the train by 09.00. As soon as we left the Venice train station we were hit by a wall of heat and stench. We has been warned that it would be hot, smelly and crammed with tourists, and it was! We hit the TI which was little more than a Porta-cabin and paid the outrageous price of €2.50 for a map before setting off in the vague direction of the Rialto Bridge. Twenty minutes later after getting very lost in the tiny winding streets (many of which simply dead end either in a building, or worse at a canal with no crossing!) we finally made it. The bridge itself is beautiful, but due to the murky and smelly water and the huge crowds it was difficult to enjoy and getting a half decent photo nearly impossible!
From the Rialto we weaved our way through more alleyways to reach Piazza San Marco and the very impressive (but again packed!) St Marks Cathedral. The square is surrounded by enormous, opulently carved Renaissance buildings and it is quite a sight to behold. As it was so hot I was wearing a boob-tube and shorts, not really appropriate for a highly Catholic church, however ever prepared I had brought a cardigan and leggings with me - although getting these OVER my shorts and trainers was a challenge and I was melting within seconds! Inside St Mark's was equally spectacular though, dripping in gold (you would expect nothing less from the Catholic Church!), but as it was a Sunday and Mass was taking place we felt a little uncomfortable so made a swift exit.
From here we followed the Grand Canal as far as we could before re-entering the maze of alleyways to make out way to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; an exhibit of her personal collection housed in her former home on the banks of the Canal which is somewhere I have always wanted to visit since I discovered my favourite painting (The Empire of Lights by Rene Magritte) is there. The gallery cost €14, so ever budget conscious and knowing that Nick would annoy me by rushing me through the exhibits I went in alone and was just in time for a free lecture all about Peggy Guggenheim's life which I found fascinating as she single handedly helped modern art become a recognised art movement by exhibiting artists no one else would.
While I was immersing myself in culture, Nick was strolling around around more of Venice and guess what, yep sun-bathing - even in that heat! He even said people were giving him funny looks as he was the only one sitting in the sun when everyone else was desperately seeking shade.
Roughly two hours later we met up again and continued exploring finding some more off the beaten track canals which were much prettier and less crowded. We did not pay the ridiculous price for a Gondola ride (although Nick was tempted!) and even our pencil collection will be missing one from Venice as we could not bring ourselves to pay €9 for a pencil!
We are both glad we have been to Venice, but are also glad we just did it as a day trip, rather than spending a couple of days there. It was beautiful in parts, grubby in others, heaving with tour groups, baking hot and horrifically over-priced (€1.5 to use a toilet!)
We got back onto a train to Padova (with no air-conditioning!!!) to collect our luggage and jump on our train bound for Milan for the third time. We spent the next day re-visiting some of Milan’s main attractions and 10 years on we finally got to see the Duomo without it being covered in Scaffolding before the heavens opened (something we were later told was a tornado hitting the city!).
Early the next morning it was off to the airport to catch out flight(s) to Cyprus to see our beloved friends!