Venice & Austria
The end of Europe trip

I spent 10 days in the port town of Hora on the Greek Island of Naxos waiting to see if the weather looked more promising to continue south (another 6 hour ferry) to Crete.

It´s just as well that the threat of rain (as forecast on the internet) continued all through my stay. I enjoyed spending 10 days in one place in a great room with a great balcony and roof with great views. I needed a vacation from my vacation. And it did not rain that much either, though I could easily see why they say that Mediterranean weather could change rapidly. And when I left Hora, I was sorry to leave. Actually, I've been sorry to leave most places - but this one was beginning to get that "home" feeling.

After the 6 hour ferry to Athens - severe culture shock. Athens is by far the ugliest, dirtiest big city I've seen. I had to stay another night there and chose the hostel I stayed at 12 days before. Not in a great part of town, lousy facilities, poor internet, lockers with no doors, peeling paint...but close to the train station and only $8.35 a night. Still, it was a far cry from my place on Naxos.

The next day I took a train back to the port of Patras (at least it was not an hour and a half late again), and took the overnight ferry to Bari, Italy where I caught the next 8 hour train to Venice (36 hours travel total). While waiting for the ferry to depart Patras I found the town's only internet and made a reservation at a hotel in a little town just outside Venice so that I didn't have to search for a place to stay when I arrived at 9PM.

The next day I moved to a hotel in the city of Venice (also booked ahead). I spent two full days in Venice getting lost and lost again. On the first day I was only about 300 meters from my hotel, but it took me 3 hours to find my way back and I backtracked routes more than a couple times. Even though it rained a lot the first day, a little the second and was threatening to rain more days, I could have stayed longer in this charming city....but I knew that I had alot of trip business to conduct (shopping and online email and research) before leaving Europe and decided to spend a full 6 days in Vienna, thinking that the cost and access would be better than Venice where it was hard to find a connection and was very expensive as well. Naxos was so much better in comparison.

The day I left Venice I had some time in the morning to walk around some more and noticed that a lot of people where wearing high rubber boots. I soon came to see why - high tide... the canal water is not much better than raw sewage and often smells like it. I pitied some people trapped in a hostel with only one water-covered walkway out. Some took off their shoes and waded. Yuk!

Vienna was a nice orderly city but pretty boring. The first night I spent in a hostel some drunken kid woke everyone in to room up when he urinated in the waste basket (the bathroom was in the dorm room 4 feet to his left). The next day I found a very large room (actually 3 rooms) in a budget hotel for $2 more which included a great breakfast.

Trip reflections:

Best city: Paris

Best city not a city (no cars): Venice

Best town: Tie between Hora and Manarola (CinqueTerra)

Worst city: Athens, ugly, dirty and only two sites worth visiting (one afternoon).

Worst town: Bari

Money well spent: Renting a scooter for a tour around Naxos

Money wasted: Tie between the $1600 Eurarail pass and the entrance fees to all the museums (not one was even worth my time).

Most entertaining sight: Puppy fights on the ruins of the floor of the coliseum in Rome

Most entertaining sound: The conversation between an old woman and a younger woman (who was about 55 or 60) on the fast, but otherwise boring, train from Paris to Tolouse.... they were both speaking in english with heavy french accents. The old woman was a curmudgeon and had an "attitude", but because of her age, it was comical. It was clear from the conversation that the younger one was either the older woman's caretaker or her daughter whom she must not have seen for a long time....though why they were speaking in english had me puzzled because there were only two people within earshot and both of us were clearly amused by the conversation.

At one point the older woman asked the younger, "Are you honest?".

"Yes, even with men."


"I said, yes, even with men."

"Even with men?"


"You are a fewel."


Most amazing sight: "The Birds" in Rome

Most amazing sound: "The Birds" in Rome

Most beautiful sight: Tie between the Alps and Gaudi buildings

Most beautiful sound: One afternoon, as I was sitting in a mostly empty plaza in Venice, I heard the sound of singing approaching from one of the many alleys. It turned out to be a middle aged man casually but conservatively dressed, singing an old beautiful Italian song with a very beautiful voice. He continued on behind me and then across the plaza and out another ally, singing all the while. He was not a street performer. He was just a man walking and singing.

I strained to listen, the further away he got. I almost followed - it was that good.

As I prepare to leave Europe I am beginning to miss it and the time I have spent here.... but the days are getting much shorter here and further adventure awaits.

to be continued.............