Long flights are never much to write about. Qatar Airlines was on time leaving Perth and the very long night is hard going. We’ve learnt it’s important to sleep on the second flight, no matter what sleep you’ve had during the night. We got within about a dozen rows of the front on both flights so the A380 was relatively quiet. I use Bose noise cancelling ear buds, not headphones as they are too big to sleep with. I turn the noise cancelling on and can either listen to music or nothing much. The cry of babies can still be heard, but they do a marvellous job of taking out all the deep drumming of the long flights. The A330 of the second flight was less than half full so I made use of a place to stretch out.
Venice Marco Polo airport was not very big, compared to the monsters at Qatar and Dubai. Australian passport holders are sped through the biometrics scanners along with Euro zone peeps. It was great to have Jacob meet us and whisk us along the freeways for the hour drive to the lovely accommodation at Montegalda – Fattoria Grimana
We loved meeting Nicole’s family and spent a pleasant evening with them. This is the plan for each evening for the week. Translations are done enormously well by Jacob and Nicole and her brothers.
A day trip to Verona started with Jacob ferrying us in two car trips to the little station of Grisignano de Zocco where the ticket machine was negotiated with, money paid and tickets printed out then validated in a different machine. For some reason we needed to catch the train the wrong way into Padua, then change trains and go back past Grisignano de Zocco at great speed and four stops later, about an hour, we found our way at Verona. This backwards train ride wasn’t by accident, it was because of the train timetable and which train stops at the little station. Trenitalia website tells all.
Jacob led us through to visit the old places, a lovely looking old coloseum type arena that hosts the likes of Elton John, Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, lunch opposite the old Verona Filarmonic Opera house, and even a quick trip to the Capulet house to see Juliet – yes the one from Romeo and Juliet fame.
With lots of little alley ways in a city, the best things are often found if you take a wander through them. It also takes you away from the main tourist throngs.
Over the fast flowing river we climbed a big hill to see a different view of the city. The weather was not very pleasant with it being quite humid and 33°C or thereabouts, so the climb up the hill was made at a leisurely pace.
Walking back to the train station we found a shirt shop near a Vodafone shop where we bought Euro wide SIM cards to take away the limitations of the WiFi networks. Yes we could have got by without, and I frequently have done so, but with a large group of people potentially needing to stay in contact, it’s a small price to pay for sense of security and convenience.
12km walked today
Thursday was a partial rest day. Some of the group caught a local bus into Vicenza, Jacob collected the best man Thomas who’d arrived from Shanghai, and Kerry and I borrowed bikes and rode around the village of Montegalda. We found a side entrance open to the church and are pleased we had time to absorb the serenity of the building where the wedding will be conducted on Sunday.
We found a pleasant little bike path along the riverside and there are enough bikes around that cars give good distance to cyclists. No helmets and big trucks with limited cycle ways made arriving home very welcome.
Venice on Friday.
A big day ahead, we sorted out the train tickets at Grisnano de Zocco station. Six tickets for the trip in, eleven for the return journey. But the machine would only give us nine tickets. Deep breaths. We intended the train to go straight through without a train change, but the ticket machine said something about delays and a change a Padova. Deeps breaths.
Arrived in Padova. Locals stayed on train. Things looked good. “Excuse me, can you help me in English?, a little bit??” He assured me this train indeed did go all the way to Venice. So 45 minutes later we pulled into Venezia St Lucia train station and walked out to see the famous city.
Cassidy had found a free walking tour so we made our way to the designated spot and waited to be sorted into the groups. Our guide was Anna, a pleasant and engaging woman who lived in Venice. She kept us away from the big ticket tourist hot spots which I was pleased about. I hadn’t been looking forward to the crowds. Anna showed us the back alleys and the places the local Venetians lived, talking about the city, it’s commencement and history.
These free walking tours rely on a payment at the end and we were happy to provide a fair donation to her – it was enjoyable. Venice Free Walking tours
The next test, and major reason to go into Venice, was to meet Barry and Jenny, Jan and Ty, Janet and Larry, all travellers from Perth who had arrived at different times and for us to bring them back on the train to Montegalda.
With the help of WhatsApp we all kept in touch and slowly everyone gathered. As each group arrived, the pressure of the day lifted with us knowing the plan was coming together. The designated train arrived on the designated platform and all 11 passengers piled onboard with a good time to spare. Big sigh of relief.
The evening was spent sharing a meal in our small apartment – 11, 12 or more we think. Lots of chat including a comprehensive briefing by Nicole and Jacob on the plans for the next couple of days. Everyone was mightily impressed at the details and thought put into every component of the event.
Pre wedding day – Saturday.
Wow, getting closer now. The breakfast table was abuzz with chat about the wedding, previous holidays and catching up. A walk into Montegalda was decided on and then completed. We took the long way around and passed many amused locals with a trek of 13 Aussies all wearing hats and carrying cameras and backpacks traipsed past their properties. “Ahh, must be the Pontarin wedding group” we decided they were thinking.
Finally we came to the Montegalda church. The new visitors were impressed by the outside and stunned by the inside. This was going to be a big event.