A Venetian Story

Trip Start Aug 12, 2012
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Trip End Sep 26, 2012


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Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Venice is a city sitting in purgatory. Think about a city built on a number of islands, with no regulatory authority prepared to put it's stamp on the design and layout. Thus you have Venice. The world of the automobile slips away and you are presented with the world of the water taxi. Choose which one, public transport or private transport. Public transport was cheap but very very slow. Private transport on the other hand was fast but expensive. You could have what they call a vaporetto , a long sleek 007 timber runabout, deliver you to your doorstep in two minutes with V-8 engines roaring and blasting you towards your destination. It made you feel like a movie star from the 40’s on holiday in Nice. At €75 instead of €30, you have to compare and weigh it up. Our trip from the airport to our hotel, by public transport, was two hours, thanks to the Venice Public Transport Authority.

Most of the passengers appeared to be headed where we were -San Marco that is-but others were going to Lido (a great deal out of our way). Also the captain was training a new first officer, and of course he had to slow for every smaller craft (of which there were a few) and he appeared to be going backwards more than forwards most times.

Yes two hours to San Marco from the airport. Shame on you Alilaguna our whatever your benighted name was.

So pull into San Marco, and drag our cases ashore. Turn on our trusty Google Maps to find the place and whoops, Google got to Venice, but a lot of the streets are not on the map and also Google placed our hotel in the sea. It is also off-putting to say the least, to find the streets narrow to a hallway and then suddenly blossom into a square or become blocked in scaffolding because someone is repairing their house. After a couple of attempts, we managed to navigate someway towards our hotel when we stumbled on a restaurant. The fact that we were hungry, tired and thirsty encouraged us to sit down, have a drink and a sandwich. I apparently ordered a plate of first class prosciutto ham thinking it was a sandwich. Who orders a plateful of ham? Anyway it was delicious and, as the waiter said, “Yes, there is bread”, in fact a whole basketful. A beer and some water (who do you think got the beer?) also, restored some of our strength and also our spirit. Pressing on, using Google, lugging two large suitcases, lifting them over canal bridges, rolling them along the alleyways, we eventually reached our destination, http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187870-d233892-Reviews-Hotel_La_Fenice_et_des_Artistes-Venice_Veneto.html
Look at the photos on this site, it looks quaint, it’s actually irritating on some levels. For example, our bathroom could have left out the bidet and been twice as big, and it wasn't a big bidet. You had to sit sideways on the toilet or your knees hit the wall. You showered and then opened the shower door to have enough room to wipe yourself. There was no exhaust fan for the bathroom and the shower began to fill with water immediately you turned on the water, a sort of Poseidon adventure in Venice.

We walked and ate and walked some more. Bought some gifts for the folks and had a beer. Don’t drink French coffee or even Italian coffee for that matter-they don’t know how to get from an espresso to a smooth creamy coffee of any description. Some English towns do know to create a latte and make a fair fist of it. Not the French or the Italians. So usually we drank tea (using a tea bag - Liptons or English Breakfast), water, beer or wine.

The next day we went on a cruise to the three main islands Murano (famous for Venetian glass), Burano (famous for hand-made lace and brightly coloured houses) and Torcello (famous for being the island that Venice began as a dwelling place after the Italian shore-dwellers moved there to escape the Barbarians (....By the 5th century AD, the Huns, the Visigoths, the Lombards had started making regular incursions into Northern Italy and even Rome itself. They killed men, women, and children, and burned and looted everything in their path. Given the destruction inflicted by these Germanic tribes and the Roman Empire's inability to stop them, it was natural that some Roman citizens would seek to flee this destruction and look for a safer place to live. That is how the city of Venice came to be founded. Citizens from Padua, Aquileia, Altino, Portogruaro, and other Roman cities settled in the area to get away from the Germanic tribes attacking the mainland.-Sean Rooney)

We bought a small item of glass, within our price range (we were not allowed to take pictures of any items but believe me-the prices!) Ate our lunch at the next island and I almost missed the boat and basically sat out the next one as it was a 12 minute walk and Melien’s legs had given up. A satisfying day’s cruise for €20 each.

The last night we went to bed early to get up early, miss breakfast, in order to get to the train station before 9:30 am. I didn’t trust the Public Transport but couldn’t afford the Private version. So at 7:30 off to Katherine Sant’ Angelo Transport Jetty to wait for, well transport. It arrived in 15 minutes, it took us to the train station and we had to fill in an hour and a half before our train left.

Oh yes! By the way, lucky we were almost 2/3 of the way through the journey before the ticket inspectors got to us. I had an email, it was legitimate, but for the next day! Oh well we all make mistakes, we purchased another ticket. I was gloomy for a while but figured that as I had not paid for tickets on the taxi ride (we simply got on and then got off) we were not square but it made me feel better.
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