And so the saga continues, albeit well behind schedule!
This is how I summarised on Facebook our first full day in Venice:
“If possible we are even more tired. Another early start to see glass blowing (Rhiannon enjoyed this ☺ ) and then entry into San Marco basilica where I unfortunately could not take photos. Then we had 8 hours free time in Venice. We wandered extensively including Santa Maria de la Salute and the Doge’s Palace. ☺ ☺ ☺ too weary to say more. Thanks all for your likes and your comments ☺”
So few words to sum up an enormous day. I think I inundated my poor relatives with 39 photos too. Quite a lot for a Facebook post by me. But for all of you, I will split the day up into a number of small posts. This one will just be about wandering the city to get a feel for it.
But first one side story.
The tour leader started the day by taking us to see a local glass blower at a glassworks on the island of Murano. Now I know that some people hates things like this. We all know that the shops want to show us this stuff so that we buy from them. We also all suspect that the tour guides get a kick back from the shops for bringing us. But you know what, I really enjoyed it. The glassblower created a wondrous glass jug with astonishing ease and finesse. The jug was created in something like a minute and a half!
Once complete, the hard sell begins. The tour group was moved into a showroom that could easily have been mistaken for an expensive department store. The sales person demonstrated the technique for telling real deal: essentially it has the Artistic Glass Murano® trademark. It was all stunning and in the end I purchased some glass cufflinks.
After this we were taken by boat to a dock about 5 minutes walk from the Doge’s palace and then given free time. So we used this time to give Rhiannon a feel for the place. The photo below is a view of where we were let off the boat. That’s next to the Grand Canal.
Like any good tourist I immediately identified a landmark statue. Indeed, I took a photo of it. Digital cameras come in really handy for this. As you can see in this case, there are several docks. I just needed to take a picture of a unique object (in this case a statue) and I could refer to my camera later to ensure that I was back at the correct spot. Another tip is to create a breadcrumb set of digital photos when wandering through complex cityscapes. Then you can use these to retrace your steps. So here is my landmark for the dock.
It is also along this stretch that tourists can take that quintessential photo that we all associate with Venice. I’m sure that you will recognise it.
Before I share any more photos let me just share one regret. I did not take any photos of the narrow laneways that so typify Venice. Why? Well, back in 1998 Nicole and I had spent a week staying in the Realto Hotel next to the Realto bridge. During that time I had taken hours and hours of video of Venice and a large proportion of those hours were small lanes. Rightly or wrongly, this time it just did not occur to me to repeat the process with digital photos. It’s a shame because those little alleys and the many, many piazzas and bridges really do sum up much of the city of Venice. Especially with the thousands of tiny shops crammed with glassware, masks, foods and tourist paraphernalia.
Anyway, here are a few shots of wider spaces we saw while wandering Venice. This was an exceptionally broad path for Venice.
This next photos are on the path to Santa Maria della Salute. You can see the domes in the background.
The path to Santa Maria Della Salute also turned out to be a road to disappointment. My favourite church in the world was closed. I could not show it to Rhiannon. So we spent a moment in the heat, just sitting on the steps contemplating our next movements.
Actually what I am going to do is use a satellite photo from Google Maps (all praise Google maps) to give you an idea of where I actually am in relation to the story.
Now if you look at my descriptions you will note one place that I have not mentioned yet: “the bridge to take the up and down Grand Canal photo”. Yep, you have to go there to get these photographs:
I took about thirty variations of these. I just love that bridge. Unfortunately thousands of others do too, and so there is a bit of patience required to get your turn without someone else pushing in front of you.
Now I did mention piazzas. Venice has heaps, all of them attractive.
If you decide to have a drink, pick a piazza café over one next to a canal. Canal-side cafes are very very expensive where as piazza ones are just very expensive. This said, if you are prepared to stray a few blocks away from the overtly touristy places then reasonable prices (cough cough) can be found. We found a delightful ice cream shop in just such a way.
Venice also has a lot of churches (in case you have not noticed from the photos so far). Most of these let you just wander in, albeit it in Italy they are slowly beginning to realise the value of the tourist dollar to such places and I noticed that more are charging an entry.
In some churches you can find unexpected pieces of art and interesting statues etc.
As a final bit of a treat for you guys (depending upon whether you ever did Roman history at high school or university) here is an interesting photo from a park about 15 minutes walk away from the Doge’s Palace.
Do you recognise what it is?
I did and I was thrilled, albeit being a fairly recent one.
Let me take you way back to ancient Greece and Rome. Whenever they won a naval victory they would set up a column decorated with the prows of defeated vessels. It was called a Rostral Column. Alas this one is not so ancient. It was erected for Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian by the Austrian Navy in 1876. In those days the Austrian-Hungarian Empire owned Venice. Nevertheless I was thoroughly surprised to know that the practice continued. As to how I knew they even existed, I remembered reading about such a thing in either Polybius or Livy when I was a young man.
Anyway, in my next story I shall tell you some more of our time in Venice.