We have spent the last two days in Venice and I am sitting on a train to Milan, waiting to pull out from Leonardo de Vinci Station on the grand canal. It has been very humid for the last couple of days and it has just started to drizzle with light rain. I hope that it clears as we travel north to Lucerne, our destination for tonight.
As we found on our previous visit, Venice is an enchanting city. There is no other sight in the world like the Grand Canal. With their pink and cream tones, the buildings along the Grand Canal create a scene that looks exactly the same as those painted in some of the old masters. I think that there must be five times as many gondolas on the canal as compared to the number we saw on our previous visit in 2004.
The connecting series of canals and walkways create a fascinating maze of places to explore. Every building is either a church with a grand facade, a hotel, or a jewellery shop selling glassware and masks or a gallery of some sort.
We rode the full length of the Grand Canal on the water bus (Vapori). I reckon that this is the best public transport ride in the world. As the boat ducks and weaves from one side of the canal to the other., you get a million dollar view for the price of a one hour ticket at just over six Euros.
I was especially interested to see the variety of service boats that somehow managed to avoid each other in the sometimes frantic traffic
- Tourist gondolas rowed by men in striped shirts and straw hats with ribbons,
- Less elaborate gondolas in which local people stand as they cross from one side of the canal to the other
- Clunky ferries (water buses)
- Sleek water taxis
- Ambulances and Fire Brigades with flashing blue lights and sirens
- Postmen in their postal boats
- TNT Couriers delivering packages
- Boats delivering linen and supplies to hotels
- The undertaker with a coffin mounted on a rack at the rear of the hearse (boat)
- Even manacled and chained prisoners being transported to the penitentiary by boat
We stopped near the Rialto bridge and had lunch at a cafe. One of the problems in Venice is the extent of the flooding that occurs from time to time. The cafe had photos of the flooding in 1991, showing water all through the cafe and half way up the legs of the chairs. I think that the real problem here is the increased frequency with which flooding now occurs.
After lunch, it was off to visit another ten, or twenty, jewellery shops and then back to our hotel to get ready for dinner which was at a little restaurant near St Mark’s Square. We said our goodbye’s to the other tour members – all of whom were leaving Venice at different times on the following morning (today).
This morning, were up early and first in to breakfast at 7:15 am. Our water taxi picked us up at 7:50am and took us to the station by the most direct route – through a series of little canals, under lots of bridges and past old leaning buildings. One of the places tat we passed on the way was the apartment building near San Basilica, where we stayed on our last visit. Across the canal was a little coffee shop in which e have a morning shot of strong black coffee. I wonder whether the lady is still smiling as she makes the coffee?