Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Venice & Slovenia: Big news!

We were able to board our 11:59pm Venice-bound ferry from Patras, Greece, shortly after 9 and explored the boat a little. We only had airline seats reserved since rooms were quite expensive. We found that many people were putting down sleeping mats in the vicinity of their seats, so we followed suit and put out ours. We laid down for sleep around 11 only to find that the floor REALLY vibrated when the boat powered up. We managed to sleep okay eventually though.

Our day on the boat consisted of meals, lying in the sun, reading, and browsing internet. It was mostly sunny all day, starting in northern Greece, up the coast of Albania, then straight up through the center of the Adriatic Sea to Venice. We arrived in Venice after 9am the following morning, sailing past San Marco square with a commanding view over most of Venice. The walk from the port to the train station was a little difficult to navigate but we managed and checked our bags into left luggage.

Venice is almost entirely made up of pedestrian streets, making it a fun challenge to navigate the maze. We spent the day walking around through the many tiny streets from square to square and church to church. San Marco was especially full of cruise boat tourists, standing in their groups making it hard for individual travellers like us to get by... We visited inside the San Marco Basilica which was quite amazing and surprisingly free. The entire ceiling was covered in beautiful mosaic art. Very impressive.
With more than enough time to walk around the island, we had a nice long sit with a beer and then pizza. We eventually made it back to the train station around 8pm and caught the 9:30pm train to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Our train car had something wrong with it and it was very hot. The train even had to stop for 45 minutes at the Slovenia border to try to fix our car. There were many other tourists going to Ljubljana as well so we had some people to talk to. The grandparents of the lead singer of a hard rock band called Saosin were on the train which was cool for Jason. He saw Saosin open for Linkin Park last summer. We arrived in Ljubljana at 2:30am and we took a taxi to the Ljubljana Resort camp ground. Luckily they have 24 reception and we were able to check in and set up camp without problems.

Ljubljana is a beautiful city. It seems quite small considering its 600,000 population. The city centre has a pretty river running through it and a castle on a hilltop. The main square has a beautiful salmon coloured church and a triple bridge across the river. We were there on a Sunday so all of the outdoor patios of the many bars and patios were full of people enjoying the beautiful day.
One thing that Slovenia is known for are their horse burgers. Jason had to try one. It was good but nothing special. We then climbed the hill up to the castle and enjoyed the views over the city. There was a little festival going on in the courtyard as well so we enjoyed some Slovenian music.
We spent the next day in Bled. It was a one and a half hour bus ride up into the beginnings of the Slovenian Alps. Bled is situated on a fairly small lake. There's a church on an island at one end of the lake and a castle is perched on the top of a cliff one side of the lake. It was quite picturesque. The perfect location for a special occasion. On the banks of Lake Bled, Jason asked Nicole to marry him and she said yes. She passed the Final Test. :) We walked around the entire lake in a state of bliss and awe. The views of the lake, church, castle and surrounding mountains from the opposite side of the lake were absolutely beautiful. Bled is also a good base of operations for adventure activities in the area, so this is certainly a place that we would like to come back to.
We had a nice dinner at a Slovenian style restaurant. We were the first ones there and the place was pretty full by the time we left. Mostly tourists. One group originally from Ohio come to Bled every year and always chose the same restaurant. On our way out, we noticed the two Australian girls that were on our train from Venice were there as well. We obviously picked the right restaurant. We returned to Ljubljana by bus and were back at our campsite by 9:30. A quite enjoyable day.
We packed up our campsite in the morning, had lunch at the resort, and waited until 2 for the free airport shuttle to take us to the airport. We were 3 hours early for our flight and then our flight proceeded to be delayed for 2 hours. The plane was late to arrive and then there were scheduling problems in getting a new time slot to land in London. Quite frustrating how many of our flights have been delayed. We landed at Stansted Airport in north London at 8 and we made it down to East Grinstead via train and subway shortly after 11. Felix was nice enough pick us up.

Through our last month of travel, we have found that we have gotten quite tired of the constant travelling. The long hours between destinations on trains and buses is really quite tiring and is wearing us down. We are finding that we are getting less and less enthusiastic about seeing the sights and we are not appreciating everything as much. We are also looking forward to buying a house when we get home and starting our own business. Therefore we're finding that we're more excited about going home than carrying on to our next destination.

So we have come to the conclusion that we'll end the trip early at 9 months and visit the rest of our destinations when we've regained the need to travel more. We'll stay in the London area for the next few days and fly home on Saturday! :)

Pics: Venice | Ljubljana | Bled


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