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.