III - The long road journey continues from Venice, east.
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II - The Long Journey from Basel to the Italian Lakes.
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IV - The journey through Slovenia continues.
Log Entry Tuesday 7th May - Bovec, a lovely, friendly town (149)
Another long night of rainfall, but we wake to a brighter sky, it is a lovely morning. We sit outside and have breakfast enjoying the beauty and ever changing scenery as the cloud continuously rolls around the mountains around us.
After breakfast we decide to walk into Bovec taking a small lane leading behind the campsite into the town, the colours are remarkable.
The short walk of no more than 300 meters is breathe taking, very pleasing to the eye.
The town is very well equipped, very clean and in excellant order, the people extremely helpful and friendly.
As we wander sourcing our the post office for stamps and fresh fruit from the supermarket we struggle with the new language but are still able to raise a smile from those we at least try to communicate with? We are passed by a couple of women with a group of toddlers all safely coupled together.
It would be difficult not to love this town, we are really taking to this country, people and what little we know of the culture till now.
Log Entry Monday 6th May - We decide to exchange the rain in Venice for the rain in Bovec, Slovenia.
After another sleepless night due to the rain, thunder and lightening after checking the weather the next few days were to be similar so we decide to move on into Slovenia. The weather ahead of us was to be only marginally better, but the trip would also bring on a change of scenery. We packed up and left as the rain returned, showers came and went through out the drive. Our plan was to head for Nova Gorcia in the "Emerald Region" of Slovenia then, from there in time head north up to Lake Bled. We purchased our "vinjeta", the local car tax levi at €15 per week to allow us to drive in Slovenia, a fine of €300 is enforced if caught without it? Annoying but understandable, when one considers any foreign vehicle can drive on the UK roads without tax - that is our governments fault! As we cross the Italian/Slovenian boarder heavy rain is with us again and stays, as we arrive at our intended campsite we decide to push on hoping to find drier weather?
It becomes very clear to us even through the rainfall that this is truly a beautiful country, the countryside very green and rugged.
We drive on through numerous small towns and villages, through Kanal, Tolmin and eventually reaching Kobarid and the rain begins to stop.
As we made our way past Kobarid we set our target destination to Bovec, there we would spend a couple of nights at least?
The scenery continues to enchant us as we climb north towards the Triglavski Nation Park, we eventually reach our target campsite on the out skirts of Bovec. The site office is closed for a couple of hours so it is into the local hostelry for a toast to our safe, and now dry arrival!
Our gamble paid off we were now in beautiful, dry surrounding, it did not last too long as as darkness fell so did heavy rain, we could not even hear a movie, still we were at least in a new place.
Log Entry Saturday 4th May - We visit the city of Venice.
Today we plan to visit Venice, there is a bus service available from out side our site, taking us the 5 miles or so into the city, nice and easy.
We had quite a restless night due to the rainfall and thunder, it appears to be following us everywhere, still nothing we can do about the weather? It appears from the forecast to be unsettled for as far out as one can see ahead, even our route into Slovenia is forecast to be wet, showers if not thunderstorms too! I have been out and about for some time, the problem this morning is getting Ann out of bed - our departure target time of 0900 is an hour gone!
Venice (Italian: Venezia) as you may know is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by numerous bridges. It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. For simplicity it can be broken down into six regions the city being of historic value dating back to the very early centuries. The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Venice has also been described as being one of Europe's most romantic cities, not that does me any favours - we will see?
Our plan was to make our way through the region of "S.Croce"
cross over "S.Polo" into the "San Marco" region and find
"Piazza San Marco" where situated is "St Marks Basilico/Doge's
Palace" and "Tore dell Orologia" it's famous clock tower.
We easily catch the bus, but our first mistake was not to purchase a ticket from the campsite, no one was able to take cash on board so we keep quiet and got a free ride - we did buy a ticket for the return trip! The bus deposited us at "Piazzale Roma" in the region of "S.Croce" just off the "Porto Crocieristico" five cruise ships were berthed as we passed? Once off the bus we have two methods of travel, by foot or water, we planned to use both to gain as much experience of the city as possible. There are obviously the famous gondolas but their price is fixed at €80 per 40 minutes, rising to €100 after 1900 hours! With regards to value for money, to pay that fee to be so close to the foul waters was of no attraction to us, so that we will not do! There is an excellant public boat service and although still quite expensive (about €7 each for a 10 minute trip) far better value for money in our opinion. Our passage to "Piazza San Marco" was to be on foot, with the aide of our sat nav, we would return by boat later in the day. As we cross our first water way is is obviously clear as to how the waters are so congested, every thing from now on moves by water, both people and goods - every thing needs a boat of some kind?
Continuing on by foot, very quickly one can appreciate the workings of the city, must be interesting living there rather than just visiting?
As we walk on into the "S. Paol" area the streets and canals narrow significantly, the city is a massive collection of small squares, usually occupied with at least one religious building.
We enter our first sizable square housing the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and two churches, all have an entrance fee of about €5 each and no photographs allowed? It becomes clear to us that one could spend the rest of your life visiting these buildings. It also confirms the need to maintain our plan and spend today visiting our original targets. The architecture is very interesting and complex, there are things to see every where, unfortunately some in quite a bad state of repair both the official historic and what I guess were domestic - that did surprise me?
We carry on through the narrow streets and trinket shops, taking in the view, even find a form of "car boot sale" without the cars obviously?
As we cross "S.Polo" the pathways and waterways become busier, some times difficult to work one's way through, but all remains very interesting.
We pass through square after square, cross bridge after bridge, eventually making our way to the "Canal Grande" as it winds through the regions, we cross it using the famous "Ponte di Rialto" bridge, quite a remarkable bridge it is too.
From the bridge, again the activity on the water is fascinating, the larger transport vessels are those we will be using later in the day.
We are now in the "San Marco" region and the numbers of people increase still further, gaps forced open only by guys making deliveries.
We eventually reach our destination, "Piazza San Marco", we enter the square via the "Canal Grande" water front, opposite, we are presented with the views of "Isola della Giudecca and Isola di S.Giorgio Maggiore" their own historic buildings providing a very respectable back drop.
The water front of the square is full of both pleasure and commercial traffic as one would expect, the small canals all feeding into the larger canal.
The square is as amazing as we suspected, as we look to it's head we see the clock tower (Tore dell Orologia) St Marks Brasilico/Doge's Palace. The sides of the square are a combination of very exclusive shops and restaurants/cafes - Ann does a little window shopping, nothing is priced! It's a good thing we cannot fit anything else into our car!
The architecture is amazing as are the crowds, the cues for each attraction stretching hundreds of meters.
"St Marks Brasilico/Doge's Palace" is an amazing collection of buildings, even with the partial covering due to restoration they are a pleasure to the eye?
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (officially
known in Italian as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and commonly
known as Saint Mark's Basilica) is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one
of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern
end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally
it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city's cathedral since
1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello. It
is said to be famous for its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its
status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the
building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
We could only describe the square it 'self as "fascinating"
To celebrate our findings we decide to take the weight off our feet and enjoy the culture at one of the exclusive cafes in the square. Aptly "exclusive" only because of the prices they charge - as we say "we will only be here the once" so we agree to the €9/glass charge and take our time to enjoy it! We were served with "nibbles" with the wine, however they unknowingly to us they were a further €12! We only found that fact out when we came to leave as they were inspected for usage and added to the wine costs?
We left the square and made for the adjacent boat terminal to pick up tickets and head back to "Piazzale Roma" to catch our bus, it had been a long, interesting and enjoyable day - except for the "nibbles".
The vessel took us anti clockwise around the "Canal Grande", under the "Ponte di Rialto" bridge and back to the bus station, it was just a case of sitting back and enjoying the scenery, which is exactly what we did.