It was the first week of May, we were in the South of Austria checking the weather forecast and feeling a bit dishearten, since it was cold and rainy everywhere around us, so we didn’t quite know where to go. Then it started to snow. So we saw it clear, we had to change our plans to go to the mountains in Slovenia and instead head South to our beloved Venice, where it seemed that the sun would shine. We didn’t have to think it twice, put the foot on the gas pedal and took the highway. 300 Km later, the blurry shape of the Venetian skyline in the rain appeared in front of us. We tried not to feel to depressed and hoping for bluer skies the day after, put Polaris and ourselves in a ferry to cross the Giudecca channel and get to the campsite in Lido. Despite the rain and the fog, the familiar and charming silhouette of Venice, contemplated from the ferry, brings warmth to our hearts.
The skies clear up the day after and so we jump to the vaporetto and cross to the city. Of course there are parts of the city which are crowded with tourists, and of course Venice is that place where the icons almost have become stereotypes, however it´s still great to simply stand and contemplate the Grand Channel from the top of the Academia bridge, with the gondolas, the vaporettos, the water taxis and other boats competing to pass through, and the magnificent palazzos, adorning the scene on both shores of the channel. And even if I thoroughly dislike the mega crowds eternally crossing the Rialto bridge and the impossible concentration of shops selling souvenirs, one has to admit that the views from the bridge are quite astonishing.
And for the life of me that I will surely not be found taking a gondola ride, this is the one stereotype, I can not deal with, but looking at the shiny emptiness of the parked gondolas, I find utterly romantic, so pretty they are.
The good part is that if one goes away from the main touristy alleyways, you can still find pretty quiet corners to admire, and turning the eyes to different angles, you can also see Venice, not as a tourist wonderland, but as an everyday city where people live and work, surrounded by all of its decadent beauty.
Also the sunsets are unbeatable.
But if what you need is to put a bit of colour in your life, you just need to take the vaporetto to Burano, a small island nearby. Here is all about all the colours in all intensities, weathered or new.
We would surely have stayed in Venice much longer, wouldn’t it be for the fact that everyday here makes a substantial dent in our humble camper van budget. So we head to Slovenia, even if unfortunately the weather has not really improved, so instead of heading to the mountains, we head to the coast, were we stay at the friendly and pleasant town of Koper.
We make Koper our base for a couple of days and, taking advantage of the efficient bus system, we also visit the beautiful Piran, where we have a blast eating grilled fish and calamari.
Our next stop is in the Vipaba Valley wine region, where we spend the night in the Rouna winery, after having an amazing wine tasting accompanied by the most delicious local ham, salami and cheeses. Another big dent in our budget.
From there, we head to Ljubljana, where apart from enjoying a nice stroll through the city, a hike up the castle and sampling the nice salted chocolate, we are lucky to meet with old colleague Mojca, her husband Ferdinand and their 2 daughters. We spend a wonderful evening with them and look forward to taste the wine they nicely offered to us and that we are saving for a special occasion.
We have booked a bear hide in the south of the country, in the little town of Stari Trg. We’ve been looking forward to it for a while, seeing what a nice experience we had in Finland, photographing the mighty plantigrade. Miha from https://slovenianbears.com is a great host and, despite the weather being cold, rainy and even snowy, we have a wonderful time watching these great animals in their natural habitat. We are wrapped up in layers of warm clothes though, since it´s about 0 degrees centigrade in the little cabin in the middle of the forest where we sit for hours and hours waiting and watching. it was also a nice coincidence to meet Marc Graf and Christine Sonvilla who were also there busy filming a bear documentary (http://sonvilla-graf.com).