Notes from Venice


We’re in Venice!!! Can you get much more of a Venetian image than that above? I bet you’ve heard all those stories about how expensive it is to go on a gondola in Venice? Well they are true! About $120 each!

There seems to be Gondoliers wandering the streets at will. There are heaps of them and they strut around like matadors. How they make a living is beyond me as they just seem to wander, smoke, strut and talk all day.

But we beat them at their own game! We found a ‘public’ gondola that took you across the Grand Canal for 50 cents each!!! Think we won that one!

I said to C that I wasn’t all that excited about coming to Venice, expected it to be a bit ho hum after all we’ve seen and done, plus the ABC effect is starting to kick in (another bloody cathedral/church/castle). However, to my surprise it’s lovely.

We are staying in a charming little boutique hotel only 30m from the Piazza San Marco! It’s a gorgeous little place, possibly one of the best we’ve stayed in and very Venetian.

We arrived hot & thirsty on a 30+ degree day, had a refreshing ale and headed off. Found a large tower to climb, climbed it via the elevator and had magnificent 360 degree views of Venice.

We then wandered around in front of San Marco Basilica, decided the queue was too long so wandered along the waterfront and ended up winding our way through the back streets to our hotel.

Hint: don’t step outside the door of your hotel without a good map. Stories of tourists departing for a day’s wandering and never being seen again are numerous. We saw several skeletons clutching Minolta cameras in some of the back alleys we ventured into!


The photo above was taken from the tower. It looks like a photo of a normal suburb near the beach. What you can’t see is that there isn’t one ‘road’ nor car in that entire area, nor anywhere around. And, in fact, although it looks like a continuous stretch of houses that area is actually a labyrinth of canals.

So what you are looking at is a myriad of islands – 117 in fact!

This morning we went exploring (very bravely) and it was fascinating. It was just like a bushwalking experience. The map was consulted continuously; the map often didn’t match the streets we were in, but it was close enough; we discovered areas we had not expected and sights we had not planned for.

On the map, you see the street you are heading for and it looks like a normal ‘street’, even though some streets seem to be more ‘main’ than others. However, it is usually a narrow lane you can only follow in single file.

But it was great. Somehow we managed to find our way back to the hotel and we felt like a successful Burke & Wills – except they never got to feel that.

Now some serious stuff! Cheryl has bought a handbag and Jim nearly bought some shoes! The only reason I didn’t was because they didn’t have my size. But just look, aren’t they gorgeous?


Man bags. After a stern but warranted pep talk from my fellow Rugged Mountain Man, Tim O, I am eschewing thoughts of a man bag. This is much to Cheryl’s relief. So I steadfastly turned my head away every time one of those kind gentleman from the Congo (yes they are here too) thrust a genuine Prada bag under my nose.

Tim suggested that a genuine red leather Italian iPad cover would however provide significant bragging rights. I couldn’t find one but came close. Lynne Grant you will be sooooo jealous:


The smaller item is a leather card wallet made by a guy who has his shop not far from the hotel, so we know it’s genuine. That’s actually been an issue. There are heaps of shops here selling ‘genuine’ leather bags, all stamped ‘Made in Italy’.

C found a few she almost liked enough to buy, but not quite. Then on the Rialto Bridge we found a small shop run by a local whose family has been making and selling leather products in Venice for generations. He explained most of the the ‘leather’ shops in Venice are run by the Chinese and the bags are actually made in China, not Italy!

Well, we have no reason to doubt a genuine salesman, so C finally bought one. It will be on show along with the shoes when we return!

Last night we were woken at 3:00 to the sound of a huge explosion just outside our room. It startled both of us. I suggested it may have been thunder, although I’d never heard it like that before. I went to the window and started to open a shutter when there was a brilliant flash of light followed immediately by the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard.

It was so loud and frightening it made me involuntarily jump back from the window. Once we had worked out what was happening, we lay back and enjoyed it. But I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’ve been in a lot of thunder storms.

We finished today with a tour of the canals of Venice in a tour boat – one of those low slung, beautiful wooden boats. It was great, lasted an hour, saw some amazing canals, houses and churches – and a desire to come back and explore some more.

A classic ‘sunset’ type photo to finish with. We are off very early again tomorrow hoping to reach Prague and won’t arrive until after 11.00pm. Don’t actually have train tickets for some of the legs, hoping to find a kind and efficient German conductor who will help us.

Note to self: Don’t mention the war.




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14 Responses to Notes from Venice

  1. As you leave Italy, we leave the Northern Hemisphere (volcanoes permitting).

    I hope your trip continues to be as good as ours.

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Thanks Big A, see you back in Hobart. Good luck with the ash. We fly from Prague to Athens on Monday, hope all is okay for us too.

  2. Tim O'Loughlin says:

    Arrr Jim, a grand choice with the iPad cover and yes Lynnie will be soooo jealous! Re maps, have you tried the maps app that comes with the iPad? It allows you to set, say your hotel, as a destination and then gives you directions to get to it. You as a comforting little blue dot can then see where you are, might be easier than your gps, needs 3G to work though. Venice very interesting, looking forward to your take on Prague.

    T & H

    • Jim Wilson says:

      Arr Tim, saved just in time by your sage advice! The app sounds good, but you need a sim card, very difficult over here.

  3. merinda young says:

    Cheryl – Did you get a pair of those shoes for me too…. Size 9 half.
    We leave Saturday… whoo hoo!

  4. Gail Foster says:

    Jim, I am so sorry they didn’t have your size in those gorgeous shoes! They are sooooooooooooooooo you!! Just the thing for the tax office! They would’ve matched the man bag too!
    Merinda, where are you going? We are leaving on the 19/6 for UK, France, Germany,Poland,Italy.
    Love to all!

    • Jim Wilson says:

      I tried them on Gail, one size too small! Otherwise the ATO would have seen them! I’d have been the envy of the office!

  5. Peter Grant says:

    Arrr Jim – those shoes would have made great “hut shoes”! What a pity you didn’t take the plunge. But more to the point … the iPad bag. With my Lynne in mind I note two things. (1) It is very red (2) It has the initial “L” right there on the front. There is but one thing that will save you from her wrath – and that is that she doesn’t have an iPad. Whew!! Otherwise it would have been your chance to return the Dixie Chicks “Shut Up & Sing” DVD compliment (as in ChCh airport!!)



    • Jim Wilson says:

      I’d have been the envy of every hut, Cap’n! Luckily for me it’s not an ‘L’, only looks like dit in a small photo – phew!

  6. BILL PERRY says:

    Trust you to turn a $120 fare into a 50 cent return Jimbo. That’s why you’re my financial advisor! I’m glad you didn’t buy the man bag. Pity about the shoes!

    • Jim Wilson says:

      You stick with me Bill, plus my fees are very reasonable! And, I have now added sartorial advice to my repertoire!

  7. Greg SIMSON says:

    get a man bag Jim. Haven’t had a good laugh for a while. Shoes were great though.

  8. Lynne OCB says:

    definitely VERRRRY jealous!! and school has just offered to buy us iPads!!!
    so …..Jim watch out!
    In the absence of red iPads I have kept up my passion for red with a new RED pepper grinder and some red cowgirl boots (from an op shop). ha ha!
    Loved the shoes Jim (not quite enough red in them for you I thought!)
    Cheryl – you looked great in the gondola!! where was the glass of bubbly?

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