It's interesting what different people find attractive as far as tourism destinations go. What one person finds remarkable, another might merely shrug at. Sometimes the place isn't the remarkable fact at all, rather the people you shared it with. Such is the case with my experience in Venice.
To be quite honest, by this time in my trip I was exhausted from having hiked the Cinque Terre and also from hopping on and off trains all day the following day. I saw Venice as a spot to casually explore, rest and regroup before flying off to Germany and that's exactly what it was. I was over the touristy bits, sick of the big cities and tired of fighting crowds so via recommendation from a friend I made in Rome, I booked a two-nights stay in a tent at a camp grounds outside of Venice. I paid $10 a night while everything near the city central orbited around $100 per night.
Apparently all the backpackers thought just as I did. I hadn't quite made it off the first bus when a man looked at me and said “Jolly” and pointed me in a certain direction. I looked down to study my map right when a girl my height with dark brown, curly hair approached me. “Are you going to Camp Jolly, by any chance?”
I smiled broadly first because she spoke English and second because I was, in fact, going to Camp Jolly. She explained that she was terrible at directions and figured we could find the camp together. I laughed as I told her my way of navigating involved roaming around until something “felt right.” She said she did the exact same thing. I couldn't believe it!
Jessica was a grad student from North Carolina. She was 27 and studying the immune system, which I thought was fascinating. We walked and talked for a good hour before finally arriving at our destination. She had already stayed here a night but I had to check-in. By the way, this camp ground was amazing! Not only did it have a market and a restaurant but it also had a huge pool and spas too! I was so looking forward to relaxing in this space.
After getting my tent assignment, I put my stuff down and Jessica and I went to the market together. I bought some prosciutto, crackers, garlic-soaked olives and a bottle of wine, all for less than $10. That was my delightful dinner I snacked on while getting to know Jessica better. Soon we met an elderly man from the Netherlands. He was very kind yet very blunt with his opinions. He told us all about his regular journeys to Greece and how he stays at this campground every time because he loves the people he meets here.
After a few hours we were surprised when a man about our age popped his head in our conversation and said, “English!” We laughed and invited him to sit down. He was 28 and from Houston, here traveling through Europe and ending his trip in Spain, where his sister was teaching at a college.
It was so interesting to here everyone's travel plans. I started at the bottom of Italy and was working my way up to Germany and the surrounds. Jessica began in Budapest, then hopped over to Prague and now was in Venice. Charles, as we learned his name was, had spent time in Munich, Prague and now Venice. The three of us got on so well that we made plans for dinner the following day.
I admitted that I had studied Venice but it had been a few days and I couldn't even remember what sites I had come to see. A quick review of my book and I realized there was just one art gallery I starred as a must-see, the rest would be left to casual wandering, which was often the best plan.