Day 30: So What Time Am I Getting To Venice?

Since the first leg of my train journey towards Venice did not leave until 12:35 pm, I was able to sleep in for the first time in a while. Biding my time, I relaxed and surfed the net, catching up on the current events of America. I was in no rush and could not have been more content sitting still without the need to move to the next sight or attraction. After that grew old, I went grocery shopping to use up whatever Croatian kuna I had left over. Before leaving the hostel, I thanked the hostel receptionist for all the help she had given me the past couple days. Once at the train station with enough time to spare and get situated, I asked the information desk for details on my itinerary even though I generally knew where I was going. She told me my train was delayed…for 50 minutes; my day just got very interesting. I would be missing the connection that would have gotten me to Venice at 10 pm and soon found out that the earliest I could get to Venice would be after midnight, assuming I didn’t run into any more problems down the line. Since the campsite I booked did not specify when the last check-in time would be, I had no clue whether I would have a place to stay for the night. Getting hungry waiting for the train to arrive, I ate tuna out of a can with a baguette as my utensil (high class dining at its best). I ended up talking to a man originally from Israel on a train station bench and continued the conversation with him in the train. We talked about all kinds of things: differences in policies between the U.S. and Europe such as healthcare and the foreign concept of free education or at least pennies compared to the U.S. and just bullshitted to pass the time. Also of note was the slight harassment by border patrol at the Slovenian-Croatian border as they checked my passport. While looking down at me in their fancy, well-kept uniforms and deep broken English, they questioned my whereabouts, the direction I was headed, and how I got here. After a few more scans of the passport and flipping through the pages, I finally got to let out a sigh of relief. I passed the exact train station that I arrived at and departed from in Bled before stopping at Jesenice train station. I met a guy from Scotland who was just in Bled. He told me how the weather was poor yesterday and today a constant rain and fog covered the gloomy sky. I am thankful for how blessed I have been with the weather so far (knock on wood). My next train finally left after a short delay (apparently it could wait for a train from Ljubljana but not the one I was on, smh). We passed Bled with a dark and depressing sky casting its cloak over the town; the Bled that I saw only a couple of days blessed me with sunny delight. As the night grew long, I began thinking that I may need to stay the night in some random town or perhaps be forced to pull an all-nighter grew more daunting as the time passed. I arrived at Nova Gorica train station later than I wanted without much time spare. Now, I will finally fill you in on the unique situation for getting to Venice. To get to Venice, I had no choice but to travel from Nova Gorica train station to Gorizia Centrale train station by bus, taxi, or by the power of my own two legs to make it to the next leg of the train trip. Originally, I had an hour to play with but after the delay I was looking at 40 minutes till my train left from the town that sat four km away on the other side of the Slovenian-Italian border. I got directions from the conductor on how to get to the bus station and began my walk in the dark and rain. Trudging along through the countless puddles while holding my custom, Asian-made umbrella, I was getting further drained of energy, unlike my clothes. For whatever reason, I could not seem to find a bus stop that could be in use; the holiday for Slovenia and Croatia was biting in the you-know-what once again. Time was ticking and not in my favor. Not willing to risk standing at the street corner for no one to arrive, my plodding pace quickened into a jog as I sped back towards the train station. I think I was more worried about the fact that I would have to pay for another train ride the following morning than the idea of sleeping in the train station overnight. Trying to calm my nerves and my rushed breathing, I frantically looked for someone that could help me figure out how to call for a taxi. The first gentleman referred me to his peer that knew some English. Thank God he understood what I was asking for and began to start calling taxis to arrive pronto; even another guy started to chip in on this mission. He rang multiple taxi companies who were either busy with another customer or were just plain closed for today’s holiday. For what it appeared to me, he was about to call the last taxi he could think of and I dreaded every second and every button that he pressed to dial that fateful number. The phone rang several times and, with each ring, I grew closer towards picturing myself sleeping on a bench somewhere. Soon after, his face lit up and he looked towards me. I could not have been more relieved than in the moment. He told me where to meet the cab and said he would be arriving in two minutes. I shook the man’s hand and thanked him for saving my life. At this point, I had 20 minutes left before the train at Gorizia would depart. It soon turned into a do or die situation. I waited outside the train station with my thoughts growing hopeful as each bright pair of lights at the end of the road shined in my direction. The first few passed by me as if I were a ghost. Finally, I saw the glorious yellow taxi ticker on the roof and ran over to meet him. He zoomed through the streets while I kept glancing at my watch counting down the minutes before I would be forced to do God only knows what. I wish I didn’t have to spend the money but that ten euro taxi was the only way I had a prayer of getting to Venice. I arrived at the station with some time to spare and boarded the second to last train I had to take before finally arriving in Venice. I could sit comfortably knowing I would be spending the night in Venice but where exactly in Venice was another story. The train I took would be dropping me off at a different Venice station than I planned on (the original plan would have taken me to the city center, from which I had directions to get to the campsite). {Note: I hope you paced yourself reading this because this roller coaster ride threw me for quite a loop.} Now, I had to figure out a new way to travel to the campsite and hope and pray the dang thing did not close yet. As much as I have tried to plan things out, the unpredictable is always growling with a menacing look around the corner. Departing the Venezia Mestre train station, I saw a bus stop and got some help from a local on which buses to take to reach the campsite. The first bus got me to Venezia San Lucia, the station I was originally supposed to reach. When the bus destined for the campsite reached San Lucia it was already 12:45 am and my odds of checking into the campsite were slipping from my grasp rapidly. We left central Venice in the direction of the campgrounds and since the day didn’t seem long enough already I chose (shaking my head) to get off one stop too soon. Since the last bus of the night rode off into the night, I had no other option but to walk (I had no clue where I was going or how long it would take me to get there). I asked two groups of Italian girls hanging around gas stations (the only people I ran across that late at night) for directions (I am still convinced that the second group of Italian girls that I talked to were hookers but that could have just been my wild imagination). A golden arch emblazoned with the name Camping Rialto greeted me further down the road but with my luck the gates were locked. What the heck am I going to do? My first inclination was to jump the fence and curl up by a tree for the night. I ended up ringing every bell/beeper I saw. With a slowly expanding light straight ahead, I saw someone approaching the gates. He allowed me entrance and gave me my tent room key. The whole campsite is packed with what can only be called tent cabins. Despite my utter lack of sleep, I eventually found my tent. I zipped it open after unlocking it (bizarre for a tent) and was greeted by my roommate. I didn’t bother changing or anything since I was so tired. After flopping onto the bed, I tried to fall asleep when all of a sudden the bed collapsed and tipped over the edge (the tent and thus the beds stood on a wooden slab that barely fit the width of the two beds). Of course he laughed at my whole predicament; I would have easily done the same. The night just never seemed to end. After all that I went through to get to Venice, especially when the idea seemed like a pipe dream at times, I was finally able to rest and call it a night.

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