Europe 2.0 – Day 14 10 JuneĀ 

STRANDED.

That’s how I feel right now because we’re always waiting for something.

This morning we waited for 0420h to come around so that yue shan could travel to the airport to find out if we could board the plane somehow. Unfortunately we weren’t granted a miracle despite our earnest prayers.

After she returned, we both waited for the shop owner to return to the baggage deposit shop. Then we had to wait for our schedule train. Sadly, we were really jinxed in this particular incident so much that the train doesn’t wanna cooperate. Midway during our journey, the conductor announced that there’s a fire occurring in the train tracks leading to Trieste. A shuttle bus was arranged but once again, we were made to wait. And even on the bus, we were counting down to the time that our bus would be arriving. It was a heart aching experience trying to double confirm our emergency booking that we made just several hours beforehand, and then finding the correct bus. When we found the right bus, it was turn to worry about our connecting bus (9pm) because the driver took extremely long and frequent breaks. (They usually announce ’10 minutes’ but then take 15-20 minutes to light a joint and make small talk with their favourite passengers.) There was also a long queue at the customs and by 830pm, we were still stuck at the Slovenia-Croatia border.

Worried, we translated a sentence for our bus assistant, ‘Please tell the driver that we need to reach by 9pm’. I don’t think she was the least sympathetic, only amused by our smart little trick to let her know what we want. Our message was conveyed but nothing was done, or could be done to speed up things at the customs. (The truth is, just 20m in front of the immigration office, the driver has been taking a break for like 15+minutes. By the time he decided to help us out, another bus came in front of us in the queue, and every passenger was required to be screened.)

By 9pm, we had not cleared the customs. A few passengers spoke to us – one seemed to be a local girl who travelled often on this route. She said that the bus we were taking could be the same vehicle as the connecting bus. Another person was a Saudi Arabia guy studying in US. He is the same age as us and studies engineering in university (in hindsight, should have asked which one). I recognized him as one of the passengers stuck in the same ‘Trieste train fire’ situation because I distinctly remembered this man who loaded his baggage onto the first shuttle bus but was unfortunately unable to save a seat. There’s a few common topics right there. Yet when we wanted a longer break for once, the bus started again so our convo ended when it barely got to the good parts.

We reached Zagreb at close to 10pm and grabbed some seats outside a cafe to rest and pass time. At 1230AM, it was time for our connecting bus to Dubrovnik. (TBC)

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Europe 2.0 – Day 13 9 June

Today is the second and final day in Venice! We woke up late at 9am due to our late night adventures the previous night. Our quick breakfast consisted of YS’s bread with some spread that I took from Turkish Airlines hahaha! And by 10am we were out and about!

(note: the previous paragraph was written on the day itself and the following on the next day…)

The ‘highlight’ for this day would definitely be how we missed our flight the silliest way possible. And to think me, missing an aeroplane?! SO RIDICULOUS! and YES IT WAS! BLOODY HELL SILLY THIS INCIDENT! And so careless we were! We left our backpacks in a baggage deposit that closed before we could pick it up. And by the time the operator returned, the aeroplane already flown.

And what happened to us in the meantime? OK so at 10pm we happily alighted the water bus and made our way to Piazzle Roma, where we will take the 2230h airport shuttle and then set up camp until our 0530h flight arrives.

Unfortunately I saw the dim lights of the shop as we approached it, and my heart sank. When we came in front of it, it is confirmed – the shop is closed.

Later we asked the shop owners nearby for help, asking them for a number that we could call. Too bad nobody knew anyone whom we could contact and everyone was pretty stoic and unsympathetic towards our situation. A few persons helped to call the number stated on the glass window of the shop but there was no answer. Probably an office number.

Then we started to consider finding the police because they may know who owns the establishment, or suggest ways that we could retrieve our belongings. Although they tried to offer more help than the others, they were also unsympathetic and told us to find a new route/that this isn’t the world’s biggest problem (something to that extent). I could empathise with their lack of empathy – this problem could be easily circumvented as long as we have time and money, so perhaps we appeared to be overly dramatic or exaggerative.

However, in my mind, I was only concerned with the absurdness of the whole situation. How we planned everything so carefully and yet a mistake still popped out at this small loophole. We both prayed for a miracle but alas there was no solutions. Even the police gently let us know that the station was about to close (we asked if we can stay inside but they told us that the train station is our best option). I couldn’t accept the situation even when we were waking towards our space that we’ll make ourselves a resting point for the entire night until dawn. I was so sad, disappointed, angry and in disbelief the entire time. I felt that we were receiving retribution for something bad we may have done. Eg. Taking photos inside St Marks Basilica.

But I digress. When the police has also given up on us, the reality of the whole situation dawned upon me – it was no longer about finding a way to retrieve our bags, but to find an alternative route to take. For the night, we wanted to spend it inside the Venezia Santa Lucia station but it was closed at around midnight so we had to wait outside.

The night was chilly and YS was frequently worried about our safety. We took our spot next to other people who had no shelter to return to, some for tonight (like us) but the rest perhaps for a long time.

I spent the first few hours deleting unwanted photos from my DSLR as my phone has already ran out of battery to be of any use. YS was editing photos. I managed to get some sleep by lying on YS’ shoulder but felt bad after a while, so we stayed up until 0420h, ie. the time of the first bus shuttle to the Venice airport… (TBC)

Anyways, for the sake of recording the day’s events down: On our second day we left out backpacks at the baggage deposit shop, not knowing that it was a mistake. We bumped into fellow RJ batchmates in the queue and was extremely delighted that we had this fate to catch up with them after 3 years or so.

First we headed to Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (long name heh) but an entrance fee was required so we appreciated at the line where the set up to bar non-paying visitors like us. A few 100m ahead was the Leonardo da Vinci museum and in its vicinity, we had lunch at an affordable restaurant that hires Chinese waitress who spoke fluent English and Italian. I was SO ENVIOUS of them. We shared a chicken fillet and lasagne.

Over lunch, I found out about San Giorgio and it’s glorious views of Venice. We decided to give it a go despite not having our vaporetto passes anymore… (Sooo basically we ‘jumped gate’ and thankfully were not exposed for doing so.)

As lauded by many forum members in TripAdvisor, the elevator is a life saver, as I would find out on later parts of my trips (because the trips up some bell towers takes a lot of courage and physical fitness). And BAM GREAT VIEWS! GREAT BREEZE! šŸ˜€ We had a refreshing 360 degrees view of Venice and its surrounding island.

After coming down, we visited the church (SAN GIORGIO MAGGIORE), which I feel may be the entire point of this island (since there was nothing else)! We walked by the river front where many yachts were parked, took photos with lighthouses and headed back to mainland to visit ST MARK’s BASILICA.Ā  Wore shorts so I had to pay for a piece of cloth (which would later shield me from the chilly night) and later we also paid to see the PALA D’ORO.

Then we googled for gelato and found ourselves at GELATO FANTASY! Our research paid off because this gelateria doesn’t just sell gelato; it sells fantastic gelato, as its name suggests. We each had a cone with the same flavours – chocolate and tangerine and sat by a river while we finished our gelato.

Later we visited the DOGE’s PALACEĀ and also rented an audio guide. Similar to Versailles, many rooms in the palace had beautiful wall paintings and frescoes that took a lot of time to identify and appreciate. But I learnt a lot about how this palace, the political system of Venice in the past and how the artists designed the interior. The highlight was walking through the bridge of sighs and seeing the outside world like prisoners in the past did… :/ (By the way, people from the outside can’t tell who, or if someone is crossing the bridge.)

For dinner we have take-away seafood pasta, which tasted super delicious because the seafood taste was so strong and there was generous serving of seafood for an affordable price. We sat by the river while enjoying our meal. Later we walked back to Piazzale Roma through CANNAREGIO, a lovely neighbourhood that I read about on TripAdvisor… We were afraid to arrive late for the airport shuttle and decided to ‘illegally’ use the vaporetto again, not knowing that a bigger worry lies ahead…