European Tour – Day 5

18th April
Venice

We started at around 8.30 am from the hotel for our Venice trip again. We reached the island by 9.45 am and visited a glass blowing place (Venetian glass is very famous..especially the Murrano glass and it is not made anywhere else…its only made in that island. Other than that, Venice is famous for Lace, masquerade masks and well Gondola rides.. I remember seeing them in ‘The Venetian’ in Las Vegas. I would be doing them here for real..yeah!!!!!) The various things they do with the glass…good god. It was amazing, but very highly prized for the efforts that go into it.  He made us a vase with a nice handle before our eyes. They also ship it. But as usual I did not buy anything costly. After that we went for our Gondola rides.

To say that I wasn’t expecting the Gondola ride is just an understatement. I was super excited. I got grouped with the Srilankan family because it holds 6 people. In our next batch, we had the player (I don’t know the name of the instrument) and the singer. To take the Gondola ride we had to go to a place beyond the San Marco’s square. It was quite hot but once we started the ride, it got a little bit better because of the wind. The instrument player started playing some tunes and after a few songs, the singer joined in. We traveled through the Canal for some time and then into the small inroads of the water. Suddenly its all quite and eerie. I tuned out everything and was very quite, taking in the ride, the sights and the music. Especially in the inroads, his voice boomed. It was so so nice. I was in my Venetian dream 🙂 and all I wanted was it to not end.  The small inroads also led us to the hotels that are there and we could see the taxi (water taxi) that transported people to and from the hotel. I don’t know why I remembered ‘The Tourist’ movie a lot at this time. It took around 30-45 mins for the whole ride. There were so many songs that were sung. It was heavenly. I did wish that I had been alone on a boat with the player and the singer all to myself so as to get in the full experience, but I cant have my cake and eat it too can I ? We can see the level marks of the water on the buildings and for the time being it was a low tide and the level was definitely less. Seems like if there is a high tide, there is a official warning system in place and they start putting out wooden planks on the roads so that people can walk on them.  And also the warning is much ahead in advance. After the relaxed 40 min or so ride, we came back to the place where we boarded.

After this we were on our own till the 2 pm where we can join the others for the trip to the Venetian Lagoon, if we so prefer. But I wanted to be here for some more time. So myself and a few others (including the 70 yr old guy and his wife) roamed around for our snack near the San Marco square. I also found out how to get to Rialto Bridge. There are signs on the roads (on the top) indicating the route. If it says ‘Per Rialto’ that means ‘To Rialto’ and similarly for ‘Per San Marco’. I had a cappuccino and a bottled water and sat in the shade of the Church for some time for the other two to have their breakfast. For some reason I couldn’t leave them alone until they had their snacks. It was very nice talking to them. She is 60 yrs of age, the same as my mother.  May be its my protective instincts kicking in , but whatever, I really enjoyed their company. After half an hour of relaxation, we went on our ways. They were planning to roam around till their 2 pm boat ride to the Lagoons and it was around 12.45 pm by then. I went on  my way to see the Rialto bridge. I started following the signs and all was going through fine till some time. It was nice to navigate these streets. It was interesting because some led to dead end roads, some to the canals, some to the bridges, some to small squares, some to buildings or churches. You never know where you would end up 🙂 I crossed so many small bridges seeing the gondola rides under them. But after some time I really did not know where I was headed. Because I did not see the Rialto sign anymore. I started seeing the Palazzo do Roma signs. I was wondering how to navigate.  I sat down every once in a while to catch my breath, it was quite hot, and then again resume on my search for Rialto. After a few minutes of going here and there and back to where I was travelling, I found myself on a place and to my utter astonishment it was the Rialto Bridge…saw the sign Pointe de Rialto… good god, I was all over this place except that I was on the other side. This was a very old bridge from the looks of it and was heavily inhabited.  There were so many restaurants, Gondola rides there and so many shops which were much cheaper than the ones near San Marco. I walked on the other side, which was a little bit quieter and had a few restaurants near the lagoon. It was very calm and nice. Spent some time there, got some magnets for my fridge and then after relaxing a bit there, started my way back. On the way, went inside the alleys to find some place for eating. Finally after some roaming about, found one caffe where I had my pizza. I also found one of the couple from my group roaming about there. Then started my slow walk around the place taking in the sights, the sounds and the lagoon. At around 2.30 pm I was back in San Marco Square. I was so tired and my feet ache. It was almost 2-3 hrs of walking in Venice (Walking!!!). I could have gone to one end, take the boat to the other. But that would mean spending more Euro’s, which was not my idea of enjoying Venice. You could see the boats, the gondola’s sitting there forever. I also saw a Cruise Liner going on its way. There were a couple of Ambulance’s that were rushing to the main land, using the same sound as the normal ambulances on land. Seems like in peak season, it gets really crowded in the lagoon. But gratefully it was well maintained, except for the algae in the water in many places. I relaxed and spent my time in the sun and then in the shade from time to time taking my time to get back to the landing point by 5 pm. By 4 pm, it became really very very hot and if we go in the shade or in the alleys it gets cold. It was really confusing, can never judge if we really want the jacket or not . The policia or the carabineri (Italian police) were on patrol everywhere keeping tabs. There were lot of Africans there who were trying to sell handbags (Gucci copies of course) and some gypsies. We were warned not to let them near by as they pick our pockets. San Marco was quite crowded by students and groups who started arriving late. Just when I was wondering why I don’t see an Indian group, I spotted them getting off the boat by around 4.30 pm or so. We had a really long queue to go to the Church , the tower etc.

Having my fill on Venice, we regrouped at 5 pm in the landing point for the boat and it arrived just in time with the people who did their lagoon cruise. I am happy that I did what I did in Venice. I got to see as much as possible, roam around the streets (while I was doing that I remembered Heath Ledger’s Casanova :), expecting to see him anytime… I love that guy) and now I need to go back. While sitting on the boat, I thanked God for letting me see Venice, even though my feet was killing me for walking so much. And it was good that we saw it at this time, instead of summer. It would have been too hot. It not that in Venice you have only water everywhere. Lot of the small islands are connected by bridges. There were a few more which I saw and you can walk around by using the bridges. As much as we fantasize about living in this small city, it is really painful for people because they have to go to the main lands very often. I saw a lot of people in their boats with kids going to main land to do shopping instead of getting the things in Venice which would be very costly. But it definitely is a good tourist place. Hope it survives the ecological problems (like the oil wells that are there near by, the algae formation in the lagoon and other pollution issues).

We came back to the hotel (after the 20 min boat ride and 30-40 min bus ride) at around 6.45 pm and uploaded some photos and went to sleep a little earlier than the previous day to get some good rest. I saw my dream place and I am really glad about it. 
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