Well - we had our first real gap-year experience on the train from Bergamo to Padova (Italian name for Padua). We had bought the cheapest ticket on a regional train - about a third of the price of the next ticket type. As a result the train - which had as its final destination Venice - was jam-packed full when we got on. Our big backpacks served as our seats in the section between the door of the train and the door to the compartment. And this little section we shared with about 10 other people - who were also all melting in the heat !! Now I know what the refugees must feel like - just soooo much worse. 3 hours standing in a Sauna ...we would survive this ! About 50 minutes before Padova there was a mass exodus from the train at Lake Garda (major holiday area) and then in Verona. And that is where the conductors got on the train to check the tickets ! About 15 minutes before we reached Padova, Clint proudly handed the ticket to the Conductor, who then proceeded to give him a long speech - in Italian of course - that he had not validated the ticket and that this would be a €60 fine for both of us ! I immediately realised that we had forgotten to click the ticket in the machine on leaving Bergamo Station - and Clint and I all of a sudden could only speak Afrikaans and proceeded to act really really dumb and confused. The Italian Lady next to us tried to intervene with the conductor, but he was not waivering. Then ...on being totally frustrated by his inability to communicate with us, he moved along in the train and said he would come back to us before Venice. Well...now it was a bit of a cat and mouse game until reaching the station in Padova. Our italian lady friend laughed and said that it was as if we were students again - ducking the conductor. The minute the train stopped we got off and stayed behind a pillar until we could slip away with the crowd. Too funny !!! Wouldn't have been though, if we had to pay another €60 !
Padova is an ancient (buildings dating back from 11th century) varsity town, with the town being mentioned by Shakespeare in "The taming of the Shrew" and the poets Dante and Giotto having close links with the town. The many huge churches, basilicas and the cathedral are really impressive with qvery different building and decorative styles reflecting the different centuries. The jewish ghetto area is quaint with the tiny streets and arched walkways. The centre of the old town is vehicle free - and we have had the privilecge of having bicycles to really experience the town with its beautiful cobbled alleyways.
Our hotel (with thankfully airconditioned room ...temperatures around 39 degrees !) is in the centre of the old town - but thankfully very quiet - so that we could catch up on some lost sleep !!
The reason for coming to Padova however was the Roger Waters - The Wall Concert, on at the local Football Stadium. It was close enough to walk to, and we soon realised we were not the only ones walking ! The audience consisted about 80% of men - of all ages ! It was incredibly hot - so clothes were at a minimum - and everyone was dripping. The show however was amazing and impressive. It was the classic rock show - technically brilliant, great production and the music thoroughly enjoyable. The theme of the show , although 35 years old , is still very relevant today and had been updated with present information. For the way home, free bus services were laid on. We got chatting to two young men on the bus - who happened to be travelling to Cape Town 3 days later. What are the chances !
For the rest of our time here we have cycled around the old town (cooler cycling than walking ) and along the rivers and just enjoyed and absorbed the environment and marvelled at the buildings - stopping at the amazing Piazzas (drinking Aperol Spritz for Sundowners !) and eating Kebabs on the Prato dell Valle, the biggest square (actully oval) in Europe, with its fountain, about 100 statues and original pallazzos and buildings on the circumference. Due to the holiday season having started and the heat, the town seems to be totally deserted - which is great formus cycling through the narrow streets. It becomes a lot livelier after 21h00, when it gets a bit cooler. The most impressive basilica is the Basilica of Saint Anthony, which houses his tomb and is a place of pilgrimage for many Catholics. Of all the many churche we have visited, this seems to be the most spiritual and is impressive with the many different sculptures, styles of chapels and frescoes of very vibrant colours.
There is lots of graffiti all over town - and one of the phrases which one sees often is "Occupy your Reality" ...which to me means - Live in the Now. A theme for our travels and a thought I will take away from Padova.
Tomorrow it is off to London . Will enjoy the cooler weather for a while.