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A last breakfast in the hotel and then a minor victory — they’re happy to let us leave the bikes in the basement for a couple of days while we head off to visit Venice.

Off to the station, lugging the luggage, then try to find a working ticket machine — one that would accept notes! The problem with the machines seems to be that they were too successful, and they were all full and couldn’t accept any more money! An armed guard and a bank employee were visiting them one by one, emptying the cash-box and restarting the machines, and then instantly a queue would appear at each revitalised ticket machine. I was amused to see that inside the machines there appears to be a very ancient IBM PS/2 running OS/2, and not once did I see a crashed one, unlike the numerous Windows blue-screens, such as on the information kiosk that sat there for three days!

The 10:38 train to Venice Mestre, luckily we got on ahead of the crowd and managed to get seats in a compartment, every other seat ended up taken and there were people standing in the aisles for the two-hour trip.

Complications at Mestre, the only information counter is hotel information, and they wouldn’t hand out a map without a booking for one of their listings. Eventually the girl relented and was waving a hand vaguely at where camping grounds “nearby” might be found. Finally she said that she could make a booking at another campsite — not in Mestre, but close, “on the beach” at Fusina, a short bus ride away. Not only could she make a booking, but she could give us a discount voucher and also a map of how to get there! We took the vouchers and the directions and went outside to find a number 11 bus. After about ten minutes it arrived and the driver started shouting at us and pointing across the road. Seems that the tourist office keeps on directing tourists to the wrong bus stop! Crossed the road and waited another half an hour for the bus in the right direction, then stayed on the bus to the end of the line at Fusina. For a while we wondered where we were going, the bus seems to head off into endless miles of derelict industrial ruins and rusting junk, before finally arriving at Fusina where all that remains is the ferry, a car-park and the campground.

Surprise — Jo realised that its the same campground that she stayed in five years ago!

“On the beach” seems to have been muddled in the translation from Italian to English. Yes, the campground is next to the water, a steep rock wall separates it from a major shipping channel! It was very impressive to see a container ship the size of an office block go drifting past through the trees as we were putting up the tent.

It’s also directly under the flight path for Venice airport, but somehow that wasn’t mentioned in the description at the information booth!

A quick exploratory walk around the campground, the €5 lying on the ground near the tent was grabbed and added to the beer fund, then off to the facilities to do some much needed washing. Laundromats are in short supply in Italy.

Definitely a backpacker-oriented campground, domestic visitors are not the intended audience — but would probably be made as welcome as we were. Seemed to be run by ex-pat Australians. Internet café, shop, bar, café and restaurant, bad 1980’s pop music playing in the bar, four or five Kontiki tour buses filling one parking lot, and masses of dorm rooms and near-outdoor showers for the summer crowds.

Also handy is the Fusina ferry terminal, only a couple of minutes walk across the road.

Half an hour to travel across the bay, then we spent three hours getting lost and found through the maze of lanes and alleys that is Venice. A fascinating place to visit, but no way would I want to live there, too damp, too expensive, and bicycles are forbidden!

We headed back to Fusina for dinner as it started to get dark, to avoid the cool of the evening and the heat of the prices. Venice is expensive! I saw a €6 beer and a €4 coffee. Still, there’s obviously enough tourists who are prepared to pay that, but I won’t be joining them.

Dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable, and far more affordable, affair in the campground. Eventually the bad 80’s music drove us away from the bar and to bed, but a newly arrived coachload of 20-something Latvians made for a very loud evening! Partying in the nearest dorm rooms, laughing, singing and dancing, they were in for a big night. The aircraft overhead and pounding dance music left me thinking that I’d never get to sleep.

Where?

Verona, Mestre, Venice, Fusina