Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Italian Escapade - Venice

The last time I was in Venice was 1981! Now some 32 years later, Marina was taking me back. My memories from that early visit were not all that complimentary even though it had some good moments.

Venice in March 1981 was cold and unfriendly - it was the end of winter. But to be fair, we had limited time to explore Venice arriving mid morning by train from Vienna and only had part pf the morning, the afternoon and the evening. Our introduction was not crash hot with the Bureau De Change trying to diddle us out of Lire. Having been told by the person helping me how much Lire I would get for my buck, he promptly short-changed me and only corrected his error (?) when I started counting out the ten-thousand Lire notes. Perhaps after so many years, I should give him the benefit of making a genuine mistake. It didn't help our mood when our Australian companions suffered a similar fate at the hands of the vaporetto conductor. From then we were very much on the alert and found it hard to relax!

The other sad thing for us in 1981 was the dilapidated state of the city with buildings needing a lot of maintenance and the Grand Canal filled with debris. It was rather sad.

Now, in 2013, I was looking forward to revisiting Venice in the hope of happier experiences. Thankfully, it was so much better and our visit this time was an outstanding success in every way. So.....let me tell you about it and show you the inevitable pictures that every tourist takes and that no doubt you viewed on countless occasions. I hope it will relive your own visit to this amazing city.

It began as daylight dawned and Marina sailed in splendour towards the city and its harbour. Our Cruise Director gave us a splendid commentary from the bridge as we glided towards our destination. It all looked still and tranquil and deserted - obviously it was too early in the day for tourist!
The dawning of a new day over Venice!
Piazza San Marco is extraordinarily empty (it was 7.30 am) - no tourists?
 Truly a city built 'on' water. The Grand Canal on the right.
Every building seem to have a jetty. No wonder!
What a wonderful way to make an entrance into Venice! Taken from our cabin.

 A photo that everyone takes! Gondolas ready for the day's work.

So much for the 'sail-past'. It is time to get on terra-firma and explore on foot!
Thankfully, St Mark's Square was not under water.
Just to wander through the square and enjoy the amazing architecture, was a treat!
Wander with us. I won't even name each building.
The buildings looked so much cleaner!

Love it!

The masterpiece of Venice architecture - St Mark's Basilica,  is worth more time than we had available. There were so many people, and to get into the basilica would just take too long. The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italian-Byzantine architecture. If only we had a few days to take it all in. I did go into the Basilica back in 1981 when there were only a dozen or so visitors, but do not remember much about it. We did comment at the time how wonderful it would have been to sing in one of Verdi's vespers or similar in this basilica. Today however, we had to be content with the outside, which was wonderful anyway!
St Mark's Basilica - a true masterpiece of Byzantine architecture!
San Marco Campanile

I have no intention of writing a detailed thesis of Venice. Many others have done so and Wikipedia and other websites are really good sources to check on its history, geography, culture and the like. I guess in the end, one has to go there and experience this place for themselves. Is it my most favourite city in the world? Probably not! But it certainly is an eye opener and worth extra time which we did not have.

So, tag along. Where ever you are in Venice, there is water! I read that there are well over a hundred islets separated by some 177 canals over which some 400 or so bridges were built! That is serious bridge building! Of course, traffic is only on water and everything from freight to people is transported that way. It certainly created a city with incredible atmosphere.

Of course, Gondola rides are popular and look romantic!
Certainly Venice without them is not complete!

How many bridges did we cross? We have no idea. We just enjoyed wandering, expected something different at every turn. And so it turned out! We finally got to the Rialto Bridge, a Venice highlight. By now we were ready to take the weight off our feet and surprise, surprise, a cafe was just in our path (along with scores of others)! It was right near the bridge and the service and food was excellent.
Certainly a great spot to have breather and enjoy absolute Venice ambiance!
Our waiter was pleased to look after us! 
For a little while we had the place to ourselves!
 Jan was delighted to go for the Pizza along with a glass of Venice Red! 
Sharing it with her hubby was much appreciated!

From the Rialto Bridge, we had our own bird-eye view of where we sat and lunched!
The activity  around the Rialto Bridge was delightful!
Looking across to 'our Ristorante' with tourists enjoying themselves.
There were so many canals, all with their own different contribution for our enjoyment!
And cameras!
On the Grand Canal

Along the way back, we stopped to look at inevitable stalls and shops with Venice goodies:

Venetian glass is a speciality.
And finally, a small Art Gallery to finish our day.

Thank you Venice! You have redeemed yourself. So happy to see your renewed pride in your magic city. It looked great, the people were great! So was the food and everything else!.

Time to go back to our lovely Cruise Ship Marina to pack our bags, say final farewells and get to the airport for our long, long journey home via London. 
Thank you Marina. You are an amazing ship with a fantastic crew!

We finally got to Sydney 37 hours later, by which time we were rather fed up with planes and airports! From Sydney it was a short wait before we boarded our flight to Hobart. Welcome home! Sort out your photos, write a blog, catch up on sleep.

Now for the next blog post? You will just have to wait and see.  

In the meantime, enjoy this final chapter of our Italian Escapade!