Bologna, Montagnana, Venice, Verona…to Milan

On Thursday morning, our last day in Bologna, I woke up with bites all over my hands (nowhere else on my body). We got up and had our cornflakes then we headed into the city and went to the chemist for some cream (the supermarket didn’t have any insect bite cream). The pharmacist was really nice (and spoke english which was a bonus), we then wandered around the city and went to the Medieval Museum. The museum was pretty interesting, it had a few rooms full of old medieval swords, helmets and other armour. We had some lunch, and another hot chocolate and then went back to the camp grounds to pack our bags and get ready to leave early the next morning. We discovered that the hostel we were staying in, in “Padova” was not in Padova at all it is is Montagnana. That then meant we had to take different trains and buses to get to Montagnana and to get to Venice Saturday afternoon for the Mardi Gras Parade at 3pm. We found some buses and trains that got to Montagnana at 9.40am meaning we had to leave by 6am from Bologna, but meant we would be in Venice by 2pm for the parade.

We thought we were being really lucky that noone was in the room, that way we could just get up and get ready without the hassle of other people. At about 9.30pm 2 girls came into the room, and left the front door wide open (so the whole bungalow was freezing). They then came in and moved around really loudly, so we told them we were getting up at 5.30am and we will try to be quite but we have to turn the light on in our area. We then went to bed. We turned off the lights in our area and they were in their room, next thing you know they are smoking in their room! As the room had a big gap between the wall and the roof (stupid design) we could smell it. They then stayed in their room for another hour or so talking really loudly with their ceiling light on. They then both left the bungalow.. Finally a chance to sleep. Well the girls returned at 3.30am, turned on the lights and decided to call someone on their phone (on speaker phone)…grrr! They didn’t go to sleep and turn off their light until around 4.30am.. So at 5.30am when the alarm went off we weren’t too happy. Now normally we are very considerate people when it comes to getting up early etc. But as I was so angry that they were so rude to us, I decided to turn on all the lights in our area and eat my breakfast really loudly. It turned out that they didn’t even lock the door when they returned. We made our way to the bus stop (over 1 km away) on icy road. The bus was on time which was good, we jumped on and went to the train station. When we arrived we were 40 mins early, so we bought our tickets and then went to the platform. The train was already there so we waited for someone else to get on before boarding to make sure we were allowed on. We found some seats and got comfy. The train was getting fuller by the minute (it was a train going to Venice and apparently there were a lot of people heading up to Carnival). By the time we left the station the train was completely full and there were people having to stand. Each station just kept getting busier and busier. When we arrived at our stop, Monselice, it was so full we could barely get off the train. There were 2 people wide in the isle and noone wanted to move to let you off the train. When we got off we found the line we wanted to get to Montagnana. We waited a while for the train to arrive. It was 20mins late when it finally arrived. We boarded the train and off we went really slowly. We realised at this point that we were not going to make the return train to get us to Venice, so we were a bit disappointed. Nonetheless we continued on to Montagnana. Before the first stop the train just completely stopped, the ticket inspector came around and checked our tickets and told us it would be 5-8mins. Grr more time added to our day! When we finally arrived in Montagnana (40 mins later), we hopped off the train and found our way to the hostel. Pretty much the whole town is surrounded in a fort. We walked around the edge of the fort (we didn’t know if the streets would be like a maze) and we finally came across our hostel. The lady on the desk was really lovely. We are the only ones in our room and she gave us our own key to the bathroom and told us we can lock it when we want. We made our beds and got ready to get the 12.00pm train to Monselice (then to Venice). So we wandered down to the train station, 30mins early and then tried to find the ticket machine. Apparently there is no machine at the station so we had to buy tickets from the pub over the road. We went in there and got our tickets then headed back to the station. We re-checked the timetable and realised that because it was a festival day the train would arrive at 12.23. 12.23 came and went and we were still sitting at the train station, 1pm passed and finally at 1.08 a train arrived. We jumped on and headed into Monselice. The train was only 1 carriage, it was tiny and cool – we had a laugh every time they changed gears to get faster. When we arrived at Monselice we had to wait 20 mins for the train to come. When we got on the train, it too was packed. We had to wait until 2 stops before Venice before we got a seat. When we arrived at Venice at 3.03pm we decided to follow the crowds to get to the street parade (our whole reason for rushing to Venice today). As we exited the train station we saw a tent that had information about Carnival and we picked up a map/brochure. The first thing we looked for was the location of the parade. Turned out that the parade was actually at 2.30pm not at 3pm like the guide on the internet said!! We then decided to follow crowds and see the area. There were a fair few people dressed up. There were lots of little kids who were dressed up as crocodiles, there was also a superman, bumble bee, tiger, dog and many others. The adults were more dressed up in old clothes, however there was a ghost buster and also a Harry Potter. Kids were throwing confetti everywhere and other younger kids were so fascinated picking it up and throwing it in the air or collecting it.

We were getting quite hungry so we found a pizza place that seemed to do reasonably priced pizza. They did huge slices, so we both got a slice of Salami Pizza each. It was the best pizza we have had so far in Italy. After our pizza we wandered around the little streets. At 5pm we decided to try and find our way back to the train station so that we were at least heading in the right direction (we only had 2 trains to get back). The crowds were huge, you could barely walk anywhere. It took us a while to get back to the train station as it was just so busy. Kath pulled out our book to point us in the right direction.

We got our tickets and jumped onto the train. It was really busy, and we were lucky to get a seat. By the time the train departed it was so full again that people were standing 2 wide in the isles. It was easier to get off the train this time as some people had already got off and there weren’t as many people in the isles. We were lucky that we realised that the Montagnana train was already on the other platform, so we ran down the stairs on one platform then up on the other platform. The guard was nice enough to wait for us. We had a really long stop at the second station (no idea why). Then when we arrived at our stop we were quite tired and ready to go to bed. We walked through the town and to our hostel at around 8:30pm. We got into bed and watched a movie.

We got up this morning and got ready to head up to Venice for the Costume Parade. This hostel doesn’t have a kitchen or a fridge so we planned to get up early and buy some milk from the supermarket and then go to the train station. So we got ready and went to the supermarket. The supermarket was closed on Sundays. So we had some crackers for breakfast. We then went to the train station (stopped into the pub to get our tickets along the way), and waited at the station. There were lots of locals there as well, so we knew the trains were meant to be running today. We waited for 40mins for the train to arrive, but it never turned up. Lots of the locals slowly just left the station. The train going in the other direction turned up and then left again, no sign of the train to Monselice. We decided that we weren’t going to spend hours at the train station again today (the next train wasn’t until 12.00pm if it even turned up!). Luckily we hadn’t validated our ticket so we could use it another day. We went for a walk through the town, but as it is Sunday most things were closed, and there wasn’t even really anywhere to eat that we could find that was open and reasonably priced. We pretended that we were in Venice, the cars were boats and the pedestrian paths were bridges… though Kath kept walking in the water . We then came back to the hostel to try and ask the new person on reception is she could recommend a place to eat, if there was internet we could use and if there was a kitchen. She said there is no kitchen but there is a food machine, she didn’t really know what internet was and she recommended a place down the road. So we thought we would go down to the restaurant to try and see if it was open. The hostel has stupid hours and you can only get in when someone is on the front desk. We went down the road and it was closed so we came back up and asked her if we could stay inside when the hostel is meant to be closed and she said she had to call the manager (the lady from yesterday), we said ok and then went to our room. She didn’t kick us out before she left so we were locked into the hostel until 3pm. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of trains here and the open/close hours of the hostel. We decided we’d go out and try and get some dinner at a pizzeria near the train station tonight. And will try and use the hostel’s internet tonight. We organised our plans for the next few days. Probably go to Venice or Verona Monday and then Venice on Tuesday for the last day of Carnival. We would decide later about the rest of the week and where we would go! Kath got me some chocolates for Valentines day, so despite the fact we are locked in a hostel in a town that is pretty much a ghost town at the moment, we are at least spending the day together.

That night we ventured out to try some pizza at the pizzeria Cindy remembered seeing close to the train station. The guy was really friendly there and we got 2 big slices of Peperoni type pizza for a total of 4 euro, he also gave us a tourist guide to Montagnana (In Italian) but it was good. We ate that there and the pizza was delicious – It beat the Venice pizza we had the day before – the small town had something to it. We decided we’d try the gelateria in the middle of the town. The Gelati man was really nice and spoke some English – he asked us where we were from and there was a guy behind us that welcomed us as well. Cindy got a cone with chocolate flavoured gelati and I got a cup of vanilla with real big chocolate bits through it. We sat outside and watch the town slowly come to life as we ate our ice-cream. The gelati was delicious and really cheap so after a pretty horrible morning – we ate great pizza and delicious ice-cream we were very happy that night. We asked the lady at reception if we could go online on her computer and she said yes. We checked our emails and checked the times for the train to Verona.

The next morning we got up early and decided to go to Lidl and get some milk for breakfast before heading to Verona. We decided we’d catch the bus to Padova then get a train from there to Verona. The buses seemed to be a bit more reliable. We got two little things of milk for our cereal and went back to the hostel. Cindy opened hers and poured it onto her cornflakes to realise that we had gotten Cream! It didn’t taste very nice so we gave up on breaky and headed to the bus stop, the lady at reception said the bar on the corner sold tickets, so we went there and asked for 2 tickets (in italian) and he told us around the corner… (well we got that from his hand signals – we didn’t understand him)… We tried to communicate with the lady in the Tabacci store but she just looked at us blankly – apparently our Italian attempts weren’t good enough. Cindy showed her train tickets and then I said bus. We got the message across and got 2 tickets to Verona… which were quite pricey but we thought the train from Padova would be cheap.

As we walked out of the Tabacci store we saw the bus we wanted pass us and we were like great! So we waited 40 minutes for the next bus. We jumped on the next bus and validated our ticket and took our seats. After a couple of stops – one person actually bought their ticket from the driver. So we were a little annoyed we had missed the last bus buying a ticket when we could have bought one on the bus. The bus took forever… we got to Padova 2 hours later – where we had missed the train we wanted to catch to Verona. We decided we’d get something to eat as I wasn’t feeling to well… We stopped of at Maccas and got a euro cheeseburger each and then headed over the road to the train station. The train to Verona was more expensive for the later train which was annoying but we got the next train to Verona. When we arrived in Verona – It was a decent day and we found the info point and got a free map of Verona. We found the places we’d like to visit and off we set. If you don’t know Verona is the town Romeo and Juliet is set in. They had the Capulets and Montague houses (which actually aren’t the houses – but just a gimmicky tourist thing) but we went there and found some really nice piazza’s on the way. We passed the Arena which is like a miniature Colosseum which is intake that they use for events. Juilets courtyard was free to go into, and as you go through this little tunnel thing to get into the courtyard – people have written love messages and stuck them on the wall – the walls were covered with messages. Lots of loving. Haha – It was a nice little courtyard and you could pay to go up and be Juliet on her balcony – but we were happy just to look up at it. After this we walked around looking at shops and markets and some piazzas (one was covered in Love Heart confetti… obviously from Valentines day the day before).

We slowly made our way back to the station and got our ticket to go all the way back to Montagnana which was cheaper than the ticket from Padova to Verona… So that was a little weird. When we got back to Montagana we went to the Lidl and bought some snacks and little things we could have for dinner. We went online again and booked accommodation in Milan for 2 nights and looked at trains that go from there to Barcelona, Spain. The trains look very cheap… (a bit like is this right – as its so cheap… I refuse to believe the price until I have the ticket in my hand).

The next day we went to the supermarket and get some REAL milk and then went back to the hostel to eat our cereal. We then headed off through the town – and took some photos of the centre piazza. Our train was at 10:30am and off we set… we spoke to a man at the station who is half Italian and half American. His English was good but even though he’s lived there for a few years his American accent was very evident. The train came on time and off we set for Monselice – we changed platforms and the cold and rain started. The rain was very light but we weren’t too happy. Quite cold actually. Our trip to Venice was pretty ordinary.

When we arrived in Venice – we had decided to buy our tickets to get back to Montagana and to Milan the next day so we didn’t have to do when we came back. With that out of the way off we set – we followed our instincts and found the grand canal. We talked to one Gondola man and he wanted to charge us 100 euro – he got down to 70 but we didn’t want to pay that much. So we kept walking and found Piazza San Marco – Everything was happening there. There was this massive and impressive church and this cool courtyard that was made of fake fruit with this Giant Lion made entirely of like hedge and fake fruit and vegetables. There were a lot of people walking around dressed up in all these fancy and amazing costumes. They loved getting there photos taken and you should have seen the cameras that were there. It made my camera look like a baby… We walked around for awhile and looked in lots of little shops. We decided to try find another Gondola man, we found one and he wouldn’t budge from his 80 euros, so we kept walking and found another man who was happy to take his price from 100 down to 60 euros… so we decided that’d we do it. It was fun – but I don’t think it’s the same as what it would be like 10-20 years ago as to me it’s very commercial. The guy was an amazing steerer – we didn’t hit anything and we got so close to things. It was really cool to go through these little canals and see doorways and stuff under water. The grand canal is about 5m deep and the littler canals are 2m. The tour was 2km – and was quite short… I’d like to see these guys money books… I reckon that they’d earn a lot of money because so many people don’t even haggle the price and just pay the 80 or 100 euros that they ask – and they seem so busy.

After our gondola ride we walked around some alleys just following the crowds and looking at small stores. Venice is famous for its Murano Glass. They sell all different types of things from really small to really huge things. There was this really cool little glass bag with a little gold fish in it. They were charging a bit too much for it so we just looked. But to see the detail in some of the things – really amazing. We slowly winded our way through back to the train station, getting pizza on the way and got the train back to Monselice… I fell asleep so the trip went really quickly for me. When we got to Monselice we realised we had just missed a train and we had to wait like 40 minutes in the cold for the next train… bit annoying but we just huddled up on a seat.

A girl our age spoke something to us in Italian and I said we speak English and she nodded and spoke English. She seemed nice and asked us about our trip and where we were staying when I mispronounced Montagana she corrected me and said that’s where she lived. We chatted for a while… Cindy thought she liked me but I don’t think so… She was nice and made sure we had a seat on the train and came and got us when the station was coming up (even though we had been there a few other times). She left with her friend and we went to the Pizza place on the way back and Cindy got the Peperoni pizza again and I had a sausage pizza. Both were really nice. We then thought we’d go get some Gelati and Cindy got 2 scoops this time and I still got my one…. Little too cold for too much ice cream. That night we packed our bags and got ready for the next day. Before we knew it was 10pm… so put a movie on and went to bed.

This morning we got up early and waited until the lady came and unlocked the door so we could get out and get our milk for our cereal… the lady was late (we were a bit annoyed as our train was at 9.41am).. so we had our breaky quickly and hurried to the train station. As we got there a train pulled up and I asked the conductor if it was our train, he said it wasn’t but he suggested we get this one and just get off at the last stop and the catch the train from there. We decided what the hell and on we jumped. He was nice and let us know the time of the train to Montova. We waited for a little bit for the next train – but it arrived on time and caught that train to Montova where our Milan train was waiting for us. We had just under an hour to kill but we just got on the train and had something to eat and drink.

We got to Milan and jumped on the metro to our hostel and this man starts speaking to us – turns out he’s a scot from Glasgow and has just come over to watch the Manchester United game verse Milan… He’s an avid fan and follows the team where ever they go…

We found the hostel really easily but turns out theres no kitchen (when the site says KITCHEN)… We were looking forward to being able to cook a meal and it being cheap. Sigh! We’re rooming with two other Aussies… They seem nice. Well that’s the update – we have free internet so we might skype tomorrow.

Ciao for now.

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