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.

Lightning…it’s very, very frightening!

I went into Venice last night as the sun had come out nicely and it looked as though it was going to be a really nice evening and night. My plan was to go to the Fondamenta Salute which is as far as you can walk to the southern end of the Grande Canal and you’re looking directly across at San Marco square, and on the other side is San Giorgio Maggiore island with it’s lovely church and bell tower. I also wanted some nice general night shots of Venice as I don’t have any yet.

Photo of sunset in Venice
Sunset in Venice

However as I got to Fondamenta Zattere Al Ponte Lungo which is the path that is the southern most edge of Venice’s main island, I could see an amazing sunset behind me and a very dark sky developing in front of me.

This view shows it clearly, the sunset and the sky building up above the Giudecca and the famous Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel.

The boat at the right of the frame is a cruise ship, there’s a permanent terminal here and many of them are bigger than the tallest buildings in Venice.

Anyway, I continued toward Fondamenta Salute and as I approached there was some terrific lightning and after only 5 minutes I decided to concentrate on that instead. I swapped to the wide angle lens and set the tripod so I could quickly swing between San Giorgio Maggiore and La Giudecca as they both have interesting buildings which would make for a great scene if I caught the lightning.

I initially set the camera at ISO 100, f8 and the exposure times were between 5 and 15 seconds and I’m pleased I set up as the lightning was amazing!
I quickly changed the settings and used mostly ISO 200, f9 and 8 seconds. I was simply firing off shots one after the other, hoping that the lightning would strike whilst the shutter was open. I’ve never photographed lightning before so I was very pleased with the results…here are a few of them:

MK3_4128 MK3_4132 MK3_4173 MK3_4178Needless to say…I am over the moon! I could see the brief review of each image in the back of the camera for a split second til I pressed the shutter again and I knew I’d got at least 2 decent ones. Some didn’t come out at all and I think I had the settings too long so some brief flashes got burned out by the light that was still around in the sky.

I was constantly changing the settings to see quickly which might work and which wouldn’t but each time I did this there was a bolt and I was scared I was going to miss the best ones. I had no idea at the time, but this display went on for over 2 hours. There were still some bright flashes as I was getting the bus later on and even though I knew I had a few decent shots by then I felt like staying to get more.

At one point I changed my ISO to 12800. This is a ridiculously high ISO and results in tons of noise but I wanted to get a decent shot of a ship in front of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. The shutter speed was now 1/6th of a second and I had only taken 3 when on the fourth one…look what I got!  <<  Amazing, I could barely believe my luck so quickly changed the settings back again.

I think this may be my favourite though. This was one flash of lightning, a real cracker which lit the sky and everything around me. I could even hear squealing and wooping coming from people in San Marco square across the canal, about 400 yards away!

All in all a brilliant night and although I got nothing I’d intended to, I’m amazed and thrilled at what I did get. Go me! 🙂

Venice…again?

Oh yes. I was awake very early this morning so took Jack out for an hour and watched the sun come up which was beautiful. Then I got my gear and went across the road to see if the local boat was running to Venice. Not only was it open, but it was there at the jetty waiting to go! It’s gone up in price, it’s €10 to get to Venice but what the heck, given the state of my feet I’ll try and save them a little.
The trip across was about 10 minutes and where they stopped meant I got to see a new part of Venice.

I spent from about 8:30am until 4pm on the island and took tons of photos as you’d expect. Once I’ve got them off the camera and processed them I’ll post one or two.

As I was walking around it was blazing sunshine and I was just thinking that my feet were getting hot and wondering what they were like when I felt on of the blisters pop. The downside to that is often that it becomes even more painful and you can’t walk on it at all, and it can take a week to heal properly. I’d put thick socks on to cushion my feet so I carried on and actually it was only slightly sore, not the pain I’d expected.

I think tomorrow I’ll spend the morning in the park with Jack and go into Venice later in the afternoon, staying until evening time. I’ll get to see what it’s like at night then, should be fun 🙂

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.