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No bad smell

August 26, 2008

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Lago di Como to Venezia, Italia
Lake Como to Venice, Italy

I don’t remember if I mentioned it but the proprietor of the La Primula Hostel is named Alberto.  Alberto is a real sweetheart.  Alberto has a most wonderful voice; it’s not deep but it is resonant and has a slight wispiness to it.  And being that he speaks Italian, it really sings.  Even when he speaks English, it sounds like Italian.  He wears long shorts and a tee shirt and runs around barefoot.  Scraggly hair and of course he hasn’t shaved for two or three days.  Last night I sat on the front porch, which is just outside his office, just so I could listen to him talk for a while.  I think I’ll miss Alberto.

I washed my clothes last night and didn’t find out they had no dryer till after the cycle started.  I found clothes lines outside sort of behind the building and put them to use.  Got up this morning and they were almost dry.  As soon as the sun came up though and a slight breeze started, they dried pretty quick.  Dryers are kind of rare here I guess.  When is the last time you dried your clothes outside on a line?  You should try it.

dscn3234I packed up and said goodbye to Karen, settled my bill with the voice and said “Ciao Alberto”.  The fastest route to Venezia would take me through Milano and I wanted to avoid that so I took some back roads through small towns for a while and planed to pick up the A4 in Bergamo.  I had to drive that one lane road back to Como, but it didn’t seem so bad going the other way.

I was on the road to Bergamo and was doing fine, passing through probably the 18th small town and then the road just ended.  Huh?  There was a detour sign pointing to the left, which was a parking lot.  The road just quit.  OK, it wasn’t me, because everyone else looked just as puzzled as I.  So, I went back a few blocks and headed to another town, any other town, it didn’t matter.  The plan was to go anywhere for a while and then look for signs to Bergamo again.  It worked.  I wound up in another town and within a few minutes of just driving around, I was heading to Bergamo again.  I didn’t even bother with the map.  Weird.

Most of the morning I was driving into the sun and I really felt it.  I slathered on the sun block on my face and arms, but man it was hot.  It took about 2.5 hours to get to Bergamo and then I picked up the freeway for the last 2.5-hour leg to Venezia which went well.

Just another observation.  Ever since I hit southern France, the majority of toilettes don’t have seats.  I have no idea what’s up with that or exactly how you’re supposed to deal with that.  Most that I’ve seen used to have a seat because the two little holes in the porcelain are there.  I stopped for a nature call today at an Esso station and walked into the WC and there’s a lady sitting there collecting money.  OK, so we’re back to that again.  I dropped a euro on her plate and picked a stall.  It was very roomy, had a couple of hooks for my pack and whatever else I may be carrying, it was really clean and the facility was air conditioned.  No seat though.  Upon further investigation, it appeared that the toilette was designed without a flip up seat, a seat was sort of molded into it.  So, I tried it.  It was the most comfortable toilette I’ve ever used.  I’ll be.  After I was done, it was kind of like the end of my first trans Pacific flight sitting in first class, I didn’t want to leave.

The sinks and counter were nice and clean, plenty of soap and choice of towels or blow dryer.  A couple of nicely placed plants helped set the mood.  Well worth the euro.  That’s gotta be the nicest Esso station bathroom, well, anywhere.

dscn3262OK, back to the story.  The terrain was getting very flat and the temperature was getting hotter.  I reached my exit for Venezia and started noticing some marshlands and a couple of industrial canals off to my right.  I turned onto a causeway and there was Venezia in the distance with the cruise ships docked to the right.  I watched for the Tronchetto parking garage as per instructions on someone’s web site I stumbled upon while in the cafe at Bellagio.  I’m glad I did because they were spot on and very helpful.  I parked and got everything on my back and front and started the hike to the ACTV Vaporetto; the water buses.  Got a ticket, went to the pier and caught the number 2 boat that was going my way, the Zietelle stop where I should be able to find the hostel.

dscn3294Well, I mistook the Zaterre stop for mine and got off the boat prematurely.  Oh well.  I realized it right away but it was too late to get back on.  So, I took a walk for a while, with my big pack on my back and my day pack on my front, in 38º C heat.  Just a few weeks ago that would have been unthinkable and undoable, for me anyway.  I walked across a bridge over the Grand Canal and made a big circle and came back to the Grand Canal and picked a dock.  I got on the wrong boat and wound up I don’t know where, but I explored a little more; I was there, so why not?

dscn3301I took another shot at the boats and got across another canal and finally to Zietelle and had a short walk to 86 Zietelle, the Ostello Della Giorentù, the Venice Hostel.  I was pretty much drenched at this point and my two water bottles were empty, and what a surprise, this hostel has heard of air conditioning.  At least in the lobby anyway.  Wow, what a pleasant welcome.  I got checked in and settled into my room and oh what a view.  It looks right across the canal onto the Piazza San Marco.  Not bad.

After a quick shower and change of clothes, I headed down to the common area where there’s a bar and lounge area and they were serving dinner, so I had some and started writing.  A couple of people back home had asked me to report on whether or not it smelled bad here in Venezia.  So far, no bad smell.

Around 9:30 I walked outside the hostel and it was so pleasant with a nice cool breeze coming through.  Some of Venezia was lit up across the canal and several little cliques of three to six people were just sitting around on the ground and on the seawall enjoying the evening.  So, I found a spot on the seawall and dangled my feet over the canal and made a couple of phone calls back home to friends to brag on where I was and what I was doing.  It felt good.

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