Camping Rialto

I’d found Camping Rialto on the ACSI map and it was €21 a night but being an ACSI member it was only €16. Leccie, showers, laundry and a bus stop right outside the gates, what more could you ask for?

Image of a campsite
Camping Rialto

The reception staff were really helpful and friendly with great English and although the pitches are typically much smaller than British ones there was no problem at all. It’s lined with trees everywhere and screened from the road by more trees and bushes. All the services were immaculate and they used standard HU sockets so no adaptor needed.

They sell bus tickets at reception so it was easy to prepare for nights in Venice and although I never used their onsite bar it was pretty busy each evening and everyone sounded like they were having a fun time. A nice site and not charging a rip-off price. I like it.

Venice finally!!

OK here it is, background info first.

Sosta does not translate into what we think of as an aire. Sosta means stop, layover or rest, and doesn’t necessarily mean you can park your motorhome overnight. Like the French aire it’s misunderstood and I can see why some go to a sosta and find nothing more than a paid for car park.

San Giuliano is a paid for car park but has dedicated motorhome bays on grass and gravel. It has at one time been a full campsite by the looks of it.
You get a ticket when you come in, then when you leave you put it in the machine and pay what it tells you to. €5 per night. The charging period is midnight to midnight so a 4 night stay costs you €25. Height barriers prevent you leaving overnight but I’m not sure what time they are closed as the guy who sits at the gates doesn’t speak English. It’s reasonably secure but there’s walking access into the massive San Giuliano park.

The bus into Venice and most of the buses round here don’t take cash. They use a ticket which you buy from Hellovenezia cabins or most papershops, tobacconists and other outlets. You add on whatever trips you need and validate them by swiping them on an electronic console on the bus. The validation simply ensures you have a valid journey left on your ticket and marks that you have ‘paid’ for that journey.

Water taxis and Vaporettos have a similar ticketed system. You pay €18 which lasts for 12 hours. You want more time you have to pay more.
There is a water taxi stop 100 metres from the San Giuliano sosta, however it’s seasonal and it hasn’t started yet and there is nothing anywhere to say when it starts. It is privately run and charges pretty much the same as most Vaporettos, about €7 per journey. However it is private so you can’t use the standard tickets. They start at 06:20 but finish around 19:20 which is not a problem as the last No 12 bus leaves Piazzala Roma (The main square at the end of the causeway, the ‘start’ of Venice, at about 1am.

As they aren’t running yet, and the sosta is at the very end of the causeway in the one way system, it means there is a 1.5 mile walk to the nearest bus stop on Via Forte Marghera in Mestre. It’s a very pleasant walk through the park especially in pre 7am sunshine as I made it this morning 🙂 The first bus stop you come across on Via Forte Marghera has a newspaper stand next to it which sells tickets. Handy. I bought 2 journeys, (they go on one ticket) for €2.60 which meant I validated one to get over the causeway into Venice and one to return. The Number 12 bus returns to the Red car park in San Giuliano park which means it’s only a little less than a mile to walk back to the sosta. Good news for aching feet!

That’s a lot of info, but I hope it helps anyone planning to come here. In a nutshell, €5 per night parking, and €2.60 return per person on the bus. That’s bloody cheap for round here and I doubt anyone can find a cheaper method of visiting Venice.

If your brain isn’t addled by now, in Venice expect to pay €1.50 for all toilets, €3.50 for a small coffee and €4.5 for a small bottle of water. I did see one person told off loudly for daring to ask to use a toilet in a cafe, and another who was told to buy something. My rucsac has a bladder in thank goodness so I saved a lot by filling that and a flask of coffee.
I bought a very tasty veg salad for only €5 though down a backstreet and most pizzas off the beaten track were about €7 so not wallet busting. The cafes and restaurants in the main tourist areas have racks as you enter so you can leave your shirt 😉

The Basilica di San Marco in San Marco square like most churches in Venice does not allow photography even without flash. They do not either allow rucsacs in so if you are carrying one like most people, you either have to leave it with someone or be refused entry. The queues are massive too.

I’ve had a fabulous day in Venice, I’ll post some of the almost 500 photos I took later!

Exploring Mestre

I woke early and set off to find a way into Venice. I ended up on Punta Sabbatini which is on the eastern edge of the lagoon. There is a car park which charges €6 per 12 hours for campers, one of the few that does. No sleeping in it though. However about a mile away there is a free car park where a blind eye is turned to sleeping. However signs warn you that if you leave your step out or even a window open that constitutes camping and you will be moved on or fined or both. I have seen a motorhome being towed away so they’re not idle threats. It appears to me that this area of Italy doesn’t actually like motor homes. I have indeed heard before that wild camping is in fact illegal in Italy: they simply turn a blind eye to it most times.

So a sleepover in the car park, then in the morning go to the more secure, manned car park for €6 and pay €18 each for a 12 hour pass on the boats into Venice. Seems like a plan. The journey is about 45 minutes each way so factor that in to your 12 hours. I actually fell over when checking out ticket prices as there was a decorative painted floor and after the rain it was slippery and I went down heavily on one knee. Check out the bruises! IMAG0340

I went back to the van frustrated, in pain and a little down as so many things have gone wrong over the last few months and cost me over £4,000 so far. (Laptop breaking, wheel bearing, rear brakes, lights, brakes fading, money card etc etc etc) Anyway I had a coffee and a nap then opened Google for a long session to see what I could find. I found a campsite that sounded heavenly. Right at the end of the causeway to Venice, laundry service included, free wifi, free electric, it’s own jetty and boat to Venice, and all for only €20 euros a night. I set off sharpish to find it but it appears to have closed down! Nevertheless I found San Giuliano car park and here’s hoping I can access Venice tomorrow.

Pass problems

I was going to say you may not believe it but, you might…my brakes burned out on a pass in Austria lol

It was a 16% hill and in 2nd gear the rev counter was going over 5,000 so I went into 3rd but then had to continually brake on and off most of the way down. The brakes got so hot that by the half way mark there was smoke coming from the wheels and the stench was awful. I pulled into a restaurant car park that offered itself and noticed a camper about the same size as mine but about 10 years older pull in after me. They didn’t have problems 🙁  Here’s the car park: MK3_2601

So, I decided to sit here and have some lunch. It’s blazing hot and I have no idea how much of the hill is left, I suspect a lot. I may not even reach Italy tonight grrr

*Update: I had to stop once more on the way down but from then on it was flattish so no problem. It’s concerned me though so I’m getting the brakes checked out when I return to UK.

**Update 2: I was chatting on a motorhome forum and a guy gave me this link http://www.brick-yard.co.uk/VehicleSpecific/T3/info/brakefluid.htm It’s an article that basically says brake fade is due to old and poor condition brake fluid and not pads. Bad pads cause brakes simply not to work. I am dubious as to the authenticity of this but I’ll be checking it out.

I decided that as it was over 2 hours quicker using the toll roads through the Brenner Pass, I’d pay the fee. It was €19.80 to get through the first few miles of the pass, but the next 150 miles or so of Autostrade into Veneto was only €5.60. Total tolls paid since leaving Calais including the French ones is a wallet busting €71.90 Thanks in part to my SatNav which although I told it NOT to use toll roads, it did. So after the second time it did it in France I bought a map and stopped using the TomTom. I’m heartily fed up with TomTom’s unreliable mapping so that’s my finish with it. It’s useful for marking POI’s and that’s about it.

Total mileage covered from Dover is 1006, which equates to about 156 litres of diesel which at the average price is just less than £250 or so.

Anyway, I got into Mestre and headed for Punta Sabbatini as I’d been told there was a sosta there. I found a free car park and parked up and went to bed shattered.

Oh update on the money card. I rang them and they said the last transaction had not worked as he had not sent it through as the correct transaction type. It needs to go as chip and pin and not a swipeable card. Well he managed to do my Visa card OK…anyway, the stop before that she said did not work as the Money Card does not work at automated fuel pumps and it says this clearly in the terms and conditions. What about the previous time near Strasbourg? Oh wait, it doesn’t matter, just put all the money back on my bank card as this has cost me dearly in time and stress so far and failed to work so I don’t want it any more. Yes Sir, that’ll be up to 5 working days to go into your account, or £21 if you want it immediately. I wish I could say “You useless, greedy robbing bastards!” but it wasn’t her fault she simply works there.

Money Card sorted

I’ve been looking around for the best choice of card for Italy and the Post Office’s Money Card seems my best option. It works as a Mastercard, and you simply top it up a you go. What I like is that I don’t have to put £5000 Euros on it in one go, I can top it up weekly from my bank account, even using my phone if I wish. That means if I lose it I don’t lose much. You have to pay £6 I think to convert any money left to Sterling when you return, but I’ll juts make sure  spend it before coming back, on diesel if need be.

I popped into the Post Office in Barrow today to get one and you have to put €50 on as a minimum so that’s all done.  I’ve also sent my driving licence off it’s ten year renewal today and that should be back in a week. I tried to do it online but surprise surprise the Govt website didn’t work lol

Not much left t do now before Italy!

Whahooo!!

I was talking to some friends about getting an Italian dongle, and my friend Valeria who is Italian helped me out with the TIM.it site and we identified a dongle I could buy. I needed an address but she spoke to them on the phone and they said if I was on a campsite I could use that address to buy a dongle. €199 gets you a dongle that allows 10 gig a month for 12 months. Not bad for Europe.

I thought I was sorted but later on I was speaking to Three Network about an unrelated matter and it turns out that not only does my phone contract work in Italy the same way as it does in the UK, but so does my contract dongle! Amazing or what!

I’m  going to sort some dates out and will likely leave 1st week in April, returning when the MOT is due on the 6th September. Woop!!