Posted by: Team McSlade | June 29, 2010

We ♥ Venice

As Greece was looking a tad overpriced and is slightly unstable in its politics, we decided that Venice would be a reasonable place to visit. Getting there was in the right price bracket, apartments were abundant and after Rome & the Amalfi Coast, not having to deal with crazed drivers was an added bonus.

The bus ride from Marco Polo was quite uneventful, but when the water of the Grand Canal was sighted, Naite’s special vest was brought out and the tears began. Travelling with a two year old who is quite inquisitive and fairly poor in swimming technique leads to a city that’s built on water not being the best place for a holiday – unless you have a lifejacket.
As the only kid in a lifejacket he stood out, but he was safe and that’s what you want – it also led to quoting Back to the Future – Part I when Marty returns to 1955.

Water Taxis are not cheap (60€ for a short trip), thus the public transport ferry got us to our canal, and we met Barbara who took us to our apartment. Three bedrooms with views on the canal in the front and a massive semicircle lead framed window opening onto a courtyard in the rear. Ikea decked out the place and with that set, Matt and I headed out for dinner.
No surprise that pizzerias were abundant (we even had a ‘famous’ one next door to us, but they were expensive, so we went for a more modest venue) and with that we ordered a few – minus rats – devouring them in quick time.

A few hours sleep and the city was ours to visit. Having studied the labyrinth that is streets, bridges and canals in Venice, we were fairly certain the navigation skills of 4 adults should get us through.
Some helpful sprite had left a 2006 Italian guidebook in our room, and with a few helpful pointers like ‘If in doubt, follow the signs to Rialto Bridge, San Marco Square, etc’ we were off.

Naite was back in his ‘precaution suit’, slightly happier about it and we ventured towards the hoards in San Marco Square. Now, in case you haven’t travelled to Venice, this Square is Venetian Valhalla, with every tourist ‘dying’ to visit it in Venice. They guide book said after lunch time the crowds flock there and as we left the apartment at thirty minutes to noon, we weren’t looking too good for a crowd-free experience.
About a mile of territory, 34 bridges and a Grand Canal needed to be traversed before we got to Valhalla, and with markets, glass stores and every other form of capitalism in our way it was slow going.

Traghetto Gondola Crossing

We did manage to see seagulls stealing fish from open air markets and then take a Gondola ride across the Grand Canal for only 50¢/head. As only three main bridges cross the Grand Canal, the government run traghetto gondolas to get you across in between the bridges. Thank you, 2006 guide book for your invaluable snippet of Venice know-how.
Further meandering took us through squares, side streets and over several bridges. Finally we parted with a few Euros for a map and found that we were quite cross to the San Marco Square

Reaching the Square brought a wonderful basilica into eye-shot, also several thousand pigeons (rats with wings) and more tourists than you can poke a timber yard at. Apart from the fact that the basilica and the palace next door are several hundred years old, the amazing feat of building that on reclaimed lagoon adds to the wonderment.
Lunch was had with Lu and Tato ‘terrorising’ pigeons and we watched people feed and allow this disease riddled varmints (pigeons, not the kids) climb and perch on them. Why, oh why is that something rational and sane people do? A few couples in wedding attire also added to the spectacle (and it was a Thursday).

San Marco Basilica is the resting ground of St Mark who wrote part of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Romans follow on, sing it with me…), his body was brought there from Alexandrina and we paid our respects with a tour of the church. No photos here, but the gilded vaulted ceilings, the grand columns and mosaic tiles on the floor were amazing. At the exit were nuns selling souvenirs, a slightly unsettling vision, but it keeps the hinges greased.

As I wanted ‘perfect’ photos (i.e. with no-one in them) I made an early morning trek to Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square. The first night was a bust, as I woke up at 3.30am we heard some idiots breaking bottles and trying to kick in doors. Not the relaxing time I had planned for my evening of photography, thus it was back to sleep and I went the following night.
4am is not a time one should be venturing out, however the photos I managed to take made the effort worth it. No-one on the bridge, a few in the square (but I managed to get the shots without people) and only one guy asked for a cigarette, a few Euros and then for me to not take his photo.

Grand Canal and Moon

Venice is great and Jo and I would love to come back with a heap of cash without kids and take gondola rides throughout the city, using porters to carry our bags and then dining out in the picture box windows of restaurants along the small canals.
Please add this glorious city to your overseas travel destinations list (don’t use Ryanair as they use a crap terminal miles away from the city and you can carry minimal luggage or be slugged for excess baggage, but that’s another story) and enjoy an astounding part of Italy.

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  1. Raz, those photo’s are awesome. Tim & I spent a week in Venice in 2005 – it is so beautiful, we both still dream of going back one day!

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