Sunday, 26 August.
This morning, being Sunday, we wanted to go to Mass and would have liked to have gone to St Mark's. However, remembering the débâcle we experienced at the Vatican on Thursday, we decided not to risk it and went along to mass at our "local" church in San Stephano. Fairly humble from the exterior - by Venetian standards - the church is beautiful inside. Following Mass in Italian was pretty interesting and the standard parts were easy enough although, at times, it felt like we were back in the Latin Mass days! The sermon was a bit difficult to follow, though....
Mass was at 10:30, so that gave us plenty of time to pack beforehand and, as there were no other guests following us into the flat, we had until 2:00 pm to leave. We used the spare time for a coffee, of course, and finally found a decent sized and priced cappuccino - at our favourite gelataria. Why didn't we try that before? We also wandered the local streets for some glassware window- (and a little real-) shopping. After that, it was into transport mode.
We reversed our route to the airport and it was all very leisurely. Slowly cruising the Grand Canal in the waterbus was a delightful way to farewell Venice, even though we were rather squashed in. We then had a pleasant half hour sitting on the bank of the canal, while we waited to board our bus, then 15 minutes of total mayhem as 90 people tried to get onto a 50 seater bus. If only the driver had told everyone sooner that there was a second bus waiting..... Still, it was entertaining and, as the buses were scheduled to take pre-paid Ryanair passengers to Treviso airport, no-one was going to be left behind. The bus ride, check-in and flight were all fine and then it was Willkommen nach Deutschland!
All the usual stuff of entry to another country went very well, enabled by the (almost) border-less EU. This time, we were renting a car - no more public transport for us! - and at the counter we were asked if we would like to add a GPS navigator. Us? Seasoned travellers who were only going to travel 50 kms to the Rhine in need of electronic whizbangery? Hardly! WRONG ANSWER! We had only driven 5 km when we started to feel uncomfortable and by 15 km we were sure. After swallowing my navigational pride, we asked at a servo and found we were on our way back to Italy. We considered shortcut options, but decided backtracking was the safest option. We soon found out that poorly marked roadworks had been our downfall (and I'm sticking to that story) and we were finally on our way.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of our navigational problems. When we arrived in Stromberg, the hotel was not obvious and we had no street map. Answer - ring the hotel, ask at the local bier keller and, when still lost, any and all random passers-by. After much enthusiastic and willing assistance - almost entirely in German - we found our hotel. It was at the top of a hill and almost in the next village. I doubt even a GPS could have found it. Anyway, we arrived just in time to check-in, with our nerves and tempers a little frayed but still intact, and duck out for some late supper at aforementioned bier keller. Tomorrow, we consoled ourselves, would be a very relaxing day of cruising on the Rhine.....
Guten tag! Marie, Angela and Ray.