A stormy start to the day: almost being rolled out of my bunk due to the surprising vigour of the waves! After a shower, in which the water collecting around my feet sickeningly sloshed from side to side, I managed to find my sea legs and wander down to the lounge for breakfast.
Once settled into an armchair by the window, steaming black coffee in hand, I remembered my love of the ocean; there was something majestic, serene, unpredictable, and yet poetic about the way the foam capped crests of the waves frothed in a mist up against the window.
After the others managed to stagger down from our couchette and we had all fuelled up on muffins for breakfast, the ferry pulled into Italy, slightly delayed. Our next task was to navigate our way to the train station in order to begin the long trek from Ancora to Venice.
Once again doing our best tortoise impressions, though with increased speed and less back pain, we found our way to the train station. After a frustrating few hours, having missed one train and having received mixed signals about when the next one was due, we eventually managed to get on the right train heading for Bologna Central.
A wave of relief flooded over me as we sped past fields with little farmhouses tucked away behind trees. My amusement was kept active as we even went past an ostrich farm, to which I did a double take!
After an easy switch of trains at Bologna Central, we were soon headed for Venice. Following random conversations between the four of us regarding cleaning, OCD, and my blonde moment of mentioning the vast amount of ‘vinerys’ that we had passed, (yes, I did mean vineyards!), we arrived in a very dark and thundery Venice.
I can honestly say that as we stepped off the train, none of us were quite prepared for the beauty of the scene that greeted us; needless to say the Grand Canal was a very welcome sight having travelled all day!
At this point, the fun really began- we got onto a bus to take us to our home for the next 3 nights; ‘Camping Jolly’. On the bus we met a lovely Italian lady called Maria, and despite talking for a good hour or so, she didn’t speak a single word of English. Through shouting and grand gesturing, we were able to decipher that she was in fact getting off at the same stop as us, and that we should therefore follow her. Soon after chatting to this lady, a young Italian guy got on the bus, who luckily spoke English, and gave us some broken directions towards where we were staying.
We emerged from the bus, minimally prepared for the torrential rain that was pouring mercilessly down upon us. As we splashed from one puddle to the next, we came to a hotel, in which I hastily retreated to ask for directions…except that it wasn’t a hotel, but a gentleman’s club! Uh oh! A kind faced old man greeted me ‘ahhhh pretty lady!’ (Oh God). ‘I think perhaps you look for Camping Jolly?!’, (nodding my head vigorously and flicking water everywhere!) ‘ahhh si si I show you!’ and with that he led me back to the front door, and seeing my three sopping wet companions, invited us inside to dry off and wait until the rain had stopped.
So there we were; four young single girls in the middle of Venice, walking into a gentleman’s club…British newspaper headline developing?! As he lead us down a dark corridor, past a parrot of all things (which didn’t help Lexi’s fear of birds), he said that he would show us the way once the rain had stopped. Giving us some bottles of water and directions to the toilet, the four of us sat dejected and fed up and took stock of the situation.
After the rain had eased, the nice old man led us back to the front door, and gave us directions, in a very loud voice, to the campsite. We trekked for what seemed like hours in the rain, none of us feeling particularly in the travelling spirit anymore, when we literally stumbled on top of the campsite. Joy! We hastily checked in, and the sight of Lexi’s cold, wet and miserable face was enough for the receptionist guy to give us an upgrade of accommodation for no extra cost!
For a relaxed and relatively cheap stay in Venice, I would strongly recommend Camping Jolly- with its on-site swimming pool, shop, restaurant, communal facilities and shuttle bus into Venice, it really is worth its reasonable pricing!