So I’ve dropped my tablet and I’m having to type my blog on a mobile phone screen which isn’t proving to be easy.
I left Amy’s apartment when she set off for work at 07:50 and as usual I had to cycle up hill. The good news was I found the correct roads straight away and managed to cycle through some beautiful countryside. I followed th SR249, SP31, SP29, SP5 and the SR11 these roads were magnificent.I had cycled for 2 hours and came across a sign for Auchran a supermarket chain I had become familiar with, I followed the signs, took a 10 meter detour and found a quiet spot in their parking lot. I then had a second breakfast, coffee a roll and a croissant. I had bought a pureed apple earlier it was a bit like baby food but was delicious. I walked around Auchran and picked up water,a pair of underpants for €1 which turned out to be very comfy when cycling and some velcro straps to attach the gear to my bike, hoping it would be more secure than the paracord I had previously use, turns out paracord is better.
Within 5 minutes of leaving the supermarket I came across a sign saying I had reached Verona, it was the outskirts but good enough for me. I should be at camp by lunchtime and be able to explorer Verona that night. It took me another 2 hours to cycle along beautiful tree-lined roads, past the city walls, over the fast flowing river and up to the castle which was to be my home for the next few days. The campsite is in the castle of Pietro I had read about it in a book about reggie and new it was cheap but had rough ground but hey I had my inflatable mat so I’m sorted,or so I thought. Camping castle Pietro is the strangest but friendliest campsite I have ever stayed in, first I had to cycle up a steep winding road to the top of a hill, a hard slog but I didn’t get off and push. The campsite seemed to be situated below the castle walls, it turned out that it’s in the castle grounds and is not your conventional campsite. It is a series of small terraces going up in steps, each step is a pitch. I cycled in but had to dismount to stop the bike tumbling down a steep hill to the reception area which was closed, well not closed exactly the rooms and building were open, anyone could walk in but on the desk was a sign saying it was closed and someone would be back at 13:00 hrs. There were plugs to charge devices so I plugged my tablet in, checked my email on their free wi-fi and I also spotted that their internet router was not secure and I had access to its settings.
A young woman entered the office and told the people waiting myself included that check in would be available when “the lady with the long hair, returned from lunch”. I was quite happy using the free wi-fi so could easily wait the 20 minutes until 1 o’clock, 40 minutes later she arrived and checked everyone in. I was to go to pitch B11, down the steep hill, through the stone arch and turn right. The scenery was amazing, I was in a medieval courtyard with a canopy of vines and red grapes. The ground was awful, hard dried dirt, covered in grapes which had fallen from the vines above, hundreds of ants and stones everywhere. I managed to sweep the stones to one side but knew I was in for a rough night as my inflatable sleeping mat was punctured. I used a rock to hammer in my tent pegs which had signs that it had been used for just that purpose many times before. I was rather creative at setting up my camp as I tied the guy lines at the back of my tent to the posts holding up the vines and the front ones to my bike which I had propped up against the castle wall. I then went for a shave and cold shower.
Immediately after my shower I went to explore Verona, via the castle in which I was sleeping in the grounds of. I had been told it was only a 10 minute walk but it took me over 30 minutes as I wandered around the castle gardens enjoying the views. 200 steps later I was at the base of the castle and next to the river. I crossed a spectacular stone arch bridge with a fast flowing river beneath me through an archway in a stone building and into the heart of Verona.
The whole place was amazing, the buildings were seriously old and the atmosphere had a nice relaxed feel to it. I wandered the streets of Verona for hours, I stumbled across Casa Guilette and went to see the famous balcony and court-yard. I asked an American gentleman who looked like Victor Hugo to take my photograph with Guilette’s statue, yes the one were you hold her boob and your suppose to fall in love forever. Still looking!
I sat on some stone steps next to the river for a rest before I went to find the train station, my plan was to go to Venice by train early in the morning. This would save time and mean I could get back to Calcio by Friday or Saturday. The station was a long walk away but the walk through Verona was beautiful it was such old architecture. I did find a very clean modern vending machine snack bar and bought a cappuccino for 50 cents, the cheapest I’ve found in Italy. I walked past the roman arena along a very narrow cobbled street which opened out into a huge plaza with statues and restaurants everywhere. I took some photo’s in the plaza before heading under a beautiful archway with an ornate clock on it and along a perfectly straight road to the railway station, it was extremely hot and my legs were aching. The station was on the other side of town but I got the information I was looking for. I also checked the bus information to get back to camp, row D bus number 103. I had seen a snack bar close to the station which was advertising lasagna for €4.90 so headed there and wrote some postcards whilst I ate. The lasagna was delicious but with some water it came to €7.90, next time I’ll know that they add service charge on a bill when you stay in to eat.
I decided to walk back to the campsite and was surprised at how much quieter it had gone, most of the day trippers and excursions had left Verona, so I walked around this beautiful city once again but this time without the crowds. I returned to camp by climbing the 200 or so stone steps up to the castle, at the viewpoint people were sat watching and photographing the sunset over the roof tops of Verona, it was magical. The was also a photo shoot going on and it wouldn’t be until later I would discover that I just missed Julia Roberts.
The Pietro castle campsite had a terrace just outside the reception so I sat and had a couple of Becks beers whilst other people around me were relaxing and chatting, some were cooking in the corner of the terrace, the campsite provided an outdoor kitchen for people to prepare and cook their own food whilst others ordered pizza from the bar. That evening there was an irish band playing but I decided to go to my tent and watch Bourne Identity followed by lying in the tent listening to the Irish band until I fell asleep.
I woke several times as my inflatable sleeping mat had deflated and because the ground was so hard once re inflated I put my coat and clothes under me for some padding, this didn’t work in fact I think it made it worse as my bed was now lumpy. I wanted to get up at 05:00am to get the 7:00am train to Venice but I snoozed until 07:30am, as I had such a bad nights sleep, I just took my time. I then walked to the station stopping for a mixi caliozone, coffee croissant and an orange juice before catching the 10:59 to Venice.
I was glad I went to Venice so I can now say I’ve been but it was not as impressive as Verona, I was either pre occupied about ending my journey or it was just too busy. The Grand Canal, well looked like the Grand Canal and every street, bridge or plaza was so crowded it was impossible to enjoy. Venice is a place to stay and wander either before or after the crowds descended upon it, I walked the streets avoiding the touts selling everything you could imagine and after 2 hours I got fed up and left. I bought a ticket back to Verona for €8.55 on a train which was to take 2 hours, so I spent more time on trains than I did in Venice.