Canal-hopping

We woke up at around 6:30am as quietly as possible so as not to wake our room-mates (one of them was called Steve Jones, we later found out… what a unique and completely exotic name!) with whom we’d arrived back at a fairly reasonable hour, but who would probably appreciate a lie-in nonetheless.  We wandered to the train station which was only around 10 minutes walk away, in time for our train to Villach (in Austria), where we would be stopping off before another train from there to Ljubljana.  I think we were all a bit sad to leave Ljubljana – it was a truly beautiful city, and probably my favourite place on the trip.  We all knew that in Venice, not only would prices rise, but the streets would be packed with holidaymakers.

This would be our last train journey, so we were determined not to cock it up – we thoroughly checked every display we could lay our eyes on before boarding the train.  The train journey to Villach passed fairly uneventfully, apart from the consumption of my sandwiches which we’d prepared for lunch after about 10 minutes of being on the train (about 8:10am).

We had around half an hour to spare at Villach, so we waited on the platform, ecstatic after the discovery of some Haribo in a nearby vending machine.

We then took the 10:37am from Villach to Ljubljana.  We’ve been lucky on our trip in that most of the time, we’ve booked 5 seats and have been given a 6 seat compartment, without another single person in the carriage with us.  The spare chair is used for general clutter.  Unfortunately, on this journey, we had to share our carriage with a man, who turned out to be nice enough, and didn’t complain about having to be stuck in a compartment with five noisy and excitable teenagers, even after Gill nearly knocked him out whilst trying to lift her rucksack onto the luggage rack.

I have to say, walking out of the station at Venice took my breath away.  Water was lapping only about five metres away from us, and although the city was very busy, I couldn’t help but appreciate why this had become such a popular place.  The hoards of people did prove to be fairly irritating whilst we attempted to find our hostel since, as Nick Manners put it, with our rucksacks on our backs,  we had the turning circle of a large cruiser.  But after struggling through the crowds, crossing numerous bridges and navigating down the narrow streets of Venice which all look fairly similar, we realised it was worth it.  Our hostel fronted onto a small canal.  It was absolutely beautiful.

We dumped our bags, and headed out to find something to eat.  You’d think it wouldn’t be difficult, but prices were high and we were eager to cut costs- we ended up at a small pizzeria, but we paid the price with some pizzas which… Well, we all agreed that I could have cooked better, and I once set the grill on fire when I was trying to toast bread.  I think I’ve made my point.  Our evening meal wasn’t much better… We had to repeatedly tell the waiter that Nick had ordered chips and not salad with his meal, and Gill’s attempts to order a panini and a vegetable dish were thwarted (it was the wrong time of day, apparently), so she settled for a vegetable soup which was basically hot water with a couple of carrots.  Yum.

The the breath-taking city made up for the food by far, though.  In the afternoon, we all went off in our separate directions to explore the city (after three weeks together, we thought it would be a good idea)- Gill stumbled upon the St.Mark’s basilica in the St.Mark’s square and said she nearly had an accident herself because it was so stunning.  We decided to check it out, so after dinner we headed over to the square.  She wasn’t wrong, and it was even more beautiful lit up against the stark black sky.  The square was edged by restaurants in which string and piano groups played classical groups in the open air.  The music was beautiful, the city was beautiful… I fell asleep that night thinking I must be in heaven.

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