Nom de Plumage

September 3, 2012

The Floating City Called venice

Filed under: Travel Journal — nomdeplumage @ 11:02 am
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For the first time since I started my solo travels, I woke feeling tired and sick in the stomach. I had the intent to visit Venice and Suzy informed me that today would most likely be the best day, as heavy rain is forecast for the coming days. Venice is ever increasingly becoming famous for plastic boots, plastic poncho’s and elevated walkways to combat the water that floods the piazza. I can think of no sadder sight and more uncomfortable experience than to wade through the cold waters of one of the most beautiful city in the world.

To be unwell and staying in a hostel, allows no feeling sorry for oneself or to stay curled up in bed and lazily dream the day away. So with the intent of just wasting enough of my day away before I could re-enter the hostel at 4 pm, I walk the narrow streets of Vincenza. I had no true purpose, but fate thought otherwise because before I knew it, I had arrived at the train station and within five minutes, a train was leaving to; you guessed it – Venice! How can I argue the point?

A journey that is less than an hour, I arrive just after 11 am. I exit the main entrance and there before my very eyes, is the open waterways of the city; busy and crowded with gondola’s and boats. Without a map, I had no idea which direction to walk, but in the end it did not matter because as soon as I stepped onto the paved walkway, the masses swept me along. And let me reiterate the point now – masses of tourists, every step, every road and everywhere! Slowly, I followed and navigated my way through the narrow streets, over the countless bridges and always along the many hundreds of canals that make the city so unique. But let me say this upfront and get it off my chest now – the water STANK! A heedy mix of sulphur, heat and pollution, really opened the nostrils and even made my eyes water several at stages of the journey. Ah, I do not believe they mention this in any tourist books?

The streets are paved with uneven stones and after several hours, there is no describing the pain. My boots were not the ideal choice in footwear. Although flat, the soles are thin and I felt every stone the entire way.

Narrow streets weave a labyrinth of beautiful Venetian homes, canals divide the city into little islands and the beautiful ornate bridges connect it all perfectly together. Shops of every imaginable kind line the streets – clothes, shoes, souvenirs, art, glassware and thousands of shops that sell masks of every shape, colour, size and design.Each mask is more beautiful then the next and I could never have decided on one even if I had the money. Then there are the cafe’s, restaurants pizzeria’s and patisseries.

               

There are so many wonderful must-see’s in Venice and let’s face, the Rialto Bridge is one of the most recognisable and most beautiful. The anticipation and long-awaited dream of seeing this icon, slowly unfolded over the heads of the tourists that I was being swept along with. As I got closer, the white stone structure came better into my view and then reality hit home when I placed my first step onto the bridge. Iconic as Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, the Rialto is different in the goods that are sold in the shops and the surrounding location. Albeit, the shops sold souvenirs to cater for the happy tourists, but there was a variety and each more beautiful (and let us not forget, more expensive) choice. I was particularly smitten with a writer’s dream shop that sold all things writing i.e. journals, paper, fountain pens, ink etc. The bridge is also located on a wider part of the canal and so it allowed for more cafe’s and restaurants to line the foreshore. Traffic was in abundance and the buzz was electric.

                

San Marco‘s Square was not that much further. But as with all major attraction’s (or is it just my luck?) there are major renovations in progress, especially on the cathedral. Somewhat disappointing, I will not complain too much as I am in support of any preservation for future generations. I am just happy to have seen and experienced this floating city.

               

               

To appease my love of castle’s, I visited the very beautiful and ornate Ducale Palazzo. It is more than just a castle, but a medieval museum. There was gold and marble in abundance, fresco’s and statues, and wood carved and used aplenty. Well worth the visit and with the added bonus of a somewhat hazy view across the harbour.

Although the weather was cold, my feet were dry and there was no rain in sight. Just to tease, ramps were placed alongside walls in anticipation for the coming downpour. I walked and enjoyed the square and after several hours, I decided to make my way slowly back to the train station. If you remember at the very beginning of this post, I mentioned that I did not bring a map with me? How I rued that stupid decision! This part will add a touch of comedy to my post. I walked and walked and walked some more, turning corners, over bridges and past gossiping gondola operator’s and then past them again and again. I was spectacularly lost and stressed. After one hour, would you believe it, I ended up back at San Marco’s Square?ARRRRGGGHHH! I was getting nowhere and could not comprehend my mistake. With some deep breathes and a calmer mind, I slapped myself when I realised my mistake. Just one corner, made all the difference. I was going right, but needed to go left and that was all it took. So left I went and eventually weaved my way back and retraced the now familiar steps taken hours earlier.

It was dark by the time I got back to the train station. I made no reservation for the fast train back to Vincenza and decided to try my luck. Within minutes, the conductor came to check my ticket and asked for my reservation? I apologised and confessed to not having one. He asked me my nationality and I told him I am Australian. Now I can argue the point that it could have been my sex, or my politeness, my smile or my nationality? But whatever it was, the conductor was polite and friendly, showed me another seat (that I will not be disturbed) and charged me only ten euro and not eighteen for a reservation. I thanked him and felt happy knowing that there are some very kind people in this world.

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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