Eight years ago today we found ourselves on Via Ca’ di Marcello, a deserted side street in Mestre, the landward side of Venice, waiting for the bus to Bulgaria.
We were midway through a late fall European odyssey that had previously taken us to Munich and Basel; after 3 days in Venice, we were moving on to Ljubljana and Croatia. And the bus was the only way to get from Venice to Ljubljana. It was remarkably inexpensive: 55 Euro for all three of us for a 4 hour ride:
Upon arrival at the Mestre bus station in plenty of time, we were told, with vague gesticulation, that our bus did not, in fact, leave from the station, but from the aforementioned deserted side street. By some miracle we managed to find the tiny “no parking” sign on this street marked “bus interregionali ed internazionali.”
Where we waited. And waited. On a cold, dark, damp, Italian evening.
By way of memorializing the wait, and distracting our increasingly frustrated Oliver, I recorded a short video:
Eventually the bus did arrive. With little pomp or circumstance. We showed the tickets I’d booked online. All was in order. And so we boarded.
The bus turned out to be a run from Florence to Sofia that was popular with itinerant workers from Bulgaria returning home. You cannot imagine a nicer bunch of people to travel with: as the bus sped through the night from Venice to Trieste to Ljubljana we shared food and, as best we could, stories with our fellow passengers.
We arrived in Ljubljana before midnight and made our way to our hotel; the next morning we awoke to a blanket of snow, quite a novelty after the soggy environs of Venice:
After 4 days in Croatia, we returned our rental car to Ljubljana and found all the snow gone, but the weather still mitten-worthy:
Oliver was in grade 3 that year, and had one in a series of teachers whose attitude about leaving school for periods of travel was, in essence, “he’s going to learn a lot more out there in the world than he will here in the classroom.” That was certainly true. Even if it did mean a long cold wait for the bus to Bulgaria. Or perhaps because of that.