Finished, all done and dusted, and after 525km and something like 22000m of climb we have arrived in Venice. It feels very strange, a whole bag of mixed emotions. I'm relieved it's all over and looking forward to getting home, but already missing the prospect of setting off in the morning on another walk.
The last day from Jesolo was similar to the last four, long hot and flat. The first half involved a quiet walk along the bank of a river and the second a cycle way on the side of a road. We again crossed paths with the two German hikers we have been unable to shake off for the last three days, uncannily we seem to go everywhere together, even the to the same ice-cream shops where the choice is not exactly limited.
|Chairs in contemplation|
Christine has carried her swimming costume all the way from Munich and finally got the chance to use it and enjoyed a brief dip in the Adriatic. Less inclined to get sand everywhere, I walked into the sea up to my knees and got some pictures. This generated interest from a rather large (fat) Italian in a microscopic pair of swimming trunks who was basting in the sun. 'Congratulations, you walk from Munich - no'. 'Yes' we replied happy with the ovation even if it was from a prostrate position.
|Another river bank|
The cycle path for the last 10km was perfectly straight, a Roman cycle path, and in the heat of the afternoon it felt like it would never end. We couldn't see the ferry or Venice until the very last minute and it was quite an emotional moment when we finally stepped aboard. The two Germans of course turned up on cue and there was a round of back-slapping and hand shaking.
|Approaching St Mark's Square|
|The end of the walk|
The one thing St Mark's Square in Venice shares with the Marienplatz in Munich is that it's packed with people. We have been told that the first week or so in September is the busiest time to visit Venice and everyone seemed to be concentrated around the Square.
Venice is an intensely confusing place and until you have worked out how the signs work getting lost is mandatory. We have been there before, but it didn't really help and if I didn't have my trusty GPS I'm not sure how we would found the hotel.
|Venice - a city of endless photo opportunities|
Arriving at this unique city is a perfect way to end a long walk. After the relative quite of mountains the bustle of the city, the amount there is to see and indeed the sudden abundance of great food provides an ideal antidote. I'm a huge fan of Venice - I know it's full of tourists and busy but its also incredibly beautiful. The combination of wonderful, multicoloured buildings, water and great light make taking photographs totally addictive.
We did the big sites a few years ago (although we will be back to see them again) and this time spent most of our time relaxing in some of the more obscure museums. We spent a whole morning making ourselves feel ill by looking at ancient medical instruments. Most of the time however we just unwound in the bars and cafes of the Cannaregio, which is slightly off the beaten track and relatively quiet.
We had one final encounter with the two Germans who were celebrating, in a canal side restaurant, with wives and friends who had come down from Germany to meet them. I think this will be the last time we see them but....
|With Marcus - the great explorer|
Best of all we bumped into Marcus. The last time we saw him, he was setting off alone from the Rifigio Pian de Fontana to find an eastern 'passage' around the mighty Mt Schiara. Well, he succeeded and got to the next hut in 7 hours which means that most people should be able to do it in 9. It was great to see him again and his route, which avoids both the Via Ferrata and the need to catch a bus, could be a real improvement to the Munich Venice route. I will call it the Marcus Variant in the book.
Over the next few days I'll be sorting out the 1200 or so photographs I took and replacing the smartphone blog pictures you've been seeing with what should be a much better representation of what we actually saw. Even though the summer has been one of the worst in the Alps anyone can remember, and even with my limited capabilities as a photographer, the awesome nature of the scenery the Munich Venice route passes through just can't be denied. Please have another look at the diary entries once they have been updated.