Venice is such a unique and amazing place, as soon as you walk out of the main train station and see the Rialto Bridge spanning the Grand Canal over a flurry of ferry’s, water taxi’s and gondola’s you feel as though you have fallen into a postcard. It is a little different coming from the camping ground though as it shuttles you to the new ‘people mover’ monorail, which takes you past the huge cruise ship terminal filled with new 8+ story cruise liners, to a large bus depot, and it all feels a little too modern, but once you cross the first bridge into the car-less centre of the floating city the ancient wonder is returned.
I think most people have a pretty good idea of what Venice might be like, so I won’t go on about it too much, other than to say that we loved it and have not experienced the negatives that other tourists seem to keep wanting to warn us about, I.e. dirty, crowded and smelly! On the contrary it seems surprisingly clean, the piazza’s are spacious, the people are friendly, and some of the shops are unique and quirky.
I think the thing I like about it the most is what you can’t see and the images that this conjures up in my mind….. I want to know what is behind the courtyard walls on the other side of the canal, what is under the waterline of those buildings, what’s inside those boat ‘garages’, do these palaces have yards? swimming pools? It makes me want to watch ‘The Italian Job’.
To get the overall experience of Venice we approached our days there in three ways: First by walking the maze of narrow streets and their 400 bridges, strolling through the piazza’s, wandering through courtyards and exploring churches and basilicas’ all while grazing on Macciatti, Pizza, Gelati and my new found love, Aperol Spritz (I have not lost an appreciation of beer in exchange for Aperitif’s but it’s a case of “When in Rome”, I’ll make up for it in Austria and Germany I am sure); Second by ferry, being crammed in the rocky over crowded timber boats whilst cruising up the grand canal and canale Della guidecca, finding it hard to know where to look as you want to take in as much as your eyes can manage, whilst an old sour Italian Lady in her flimsy linen suit tries to scold Ari for the tip of his shoe touching her less than crisp white linen trousers that her little dog had been sitting on less than 10 seconds earlier, although with Ari being completely oblivious as to the tone of the Italian words spitting from her mouth. The ferry ride is a fun and worthwhile experience nonetheless, as is a trip out to Burano Island; and lastly by Gondola! Although the general talk on the shuttle to and from the camp ground amongst the mostly Australian Contiki Travellers (no offense to them) was how there was ‘no way you’d do a Gondola at those prices’, (and I am sure that’s the same reason we have not done it before) the fact is that the Gondola prices are set by the city, there are only 425 licenses in circulation, it takes around 4 years to become a licensed Gondalieri and those gondolas cost around €50,000 to buy, and the €80 (or a little less if you ask nicely in your best Italian) is nothing compared to what you pay to get to Venice in the first place. So, was it worth it? Absolutely! Probably the best thing we did in Venice, it’s a completely different perspective gliding silently down the very narrow dark canals that motor boats can’t fit through, touching the palace walls and undersides of low bridges, the kids absolutely loved it and we even got a glimpse inside some of those boat ‘garages’ as people came and went from their private residences.
Here are some pics from our time here.