Friday, November 13, 2015

In sun or cloud Venice always amazes

Cloudy, damp weather didn't dampen our spirits as we approached Venice. After passing lots of small outer islands, we spotted St. Mark's Basin through the mist. We passed hotels in historic buildings, the Arsenal and St. Mark's Square before we sailed in amongst the busy water traffic, to our dock. Soon we disembarked with our Australian friends Michelle and Tom.

Since all of us had been to Venice before and done all the touristy things, we decided that today we were going to walk and explore. Immediately, we ran into a minor problem. Venice was flooded with the tide and the rain so instead of walking down the promenade by the Guideca we had to go inland. This wasn't easy as many streets and little alleys were flooded. We would walk down, discover a flood, and have to retrace our steps. It didn't take too long before we were well and truly lost in Venice's winding streets. We crossed a couple of small arched bridges over canals only to be thwarted again.

Finally we made our way to the Accademia Bridge. Of course we had to stop for a while and enjoy all the gondolas, vaporettos (public water buses) and all the small craft carrying goods for restaurants and stores. We still had to make detours. By the time we reached Campo Francesco Morisini the water was too deep and narrow walking platforms were everywhere. It took us a while to reach St. Mark's Square, the heart and soul of Venice, which was completely flooded. Entrepreneurs were selling plastic Wellington boots in a variety of colours. I opted for turquoise and set off for the deep water. I considered myself lucky because I had always wanted to see Venice flooded and today was the day.

We admired the Campanile, the Clock Tower from the fifteenth century, and St. Mark's Cathedral with its domes, pinnacles and bronze horses. By now the walking platforms were really crowded and a carabinieri  with full leg waders kept us moving. We passed the Doge's Palace, the seat of the Venetian government from the 9th century until 1797 and the home to the Duke of Venice.

Some of the shops and money exchangers around the square were closed because of the flooding. After more wandering around we spotted the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners crossed on the way to the prison.

It was lunchtime and we found the restaurant we were looking for after negotiating many narrow, narrow laneways and getting lost in a lovely enclosed square. We were well off the tourist track now. I had beautiful pasta nero or pasta made with black squid ink. It was delicious.

We continued our walk ending up on the Rialto Bridge with its many jewellery shops. Many of them were selling items made of beautiful shades of Murano glass. By now the sun was out and things were drying up quite quickly. We walked down Fondamenta del Vin parallel to the Grand Canal. It is such a lovely walk with all the majestic old palazzos lining the canal. It was time to sit down for a glass of wine and to do more people watching. Besides our legs needed a rest.

We tried to walk further along the Grand Canal but the laneways kept ending in canals. Finally we had to retrace our steps over the Rialto Bridge wending our way to the Accademia Bridge. This was no small feat as there are no straight roads in Venice. Finally we found the promenade to the ship, which was quite dry now. What an easy walk this time.

Tonight was our last dinner with our friends so we made it a celebratory dinner vowing to meet up in Europe or Australia in the next year or so. I hope we do.

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