We arrived in Venice Airport just after 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. We were met with a sultry sun and the bus/boat to take us into Lido, a small Island off the main island of Venice. Lido, we were informed, is the only surrounding island that has vehicles on it.
The boat ride itself was uneventful and we both felt a rising anticipation to get settled into our hotel and head back out to the Boat Stop to catch a boat to Venice.
As we walked on to the boat, Andy was ahead of me and made his way to the front of the boat where he quickly sat down. I glanced at the signs behind his head and motioned for him to get up, telling him that he couldn't sit there as the sign was indicating 'no men', he turned round, looked at the sign, and stood to move. It was through laughter that I heard a lovely Italian gentleman telling Andy to 'sit' 'sit', that it was ok. The sign was a picture of a man with the red line through it saying no in four different languages. Next to it was a picture of a person sitting with yes (again in four different languages). Sorry but I couldn't help myself to that little trick.
It was shortly after five when we disembarked at the boat stop for Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square). The place was throbbing with people of all different nationalities and merchants selling their wares. A three piece band was playing as we made our way past Doges' Palace and on into the Square. It felt a bit surreal to say the least, to finally see the historically famous square that has been in countless films. Although the place was very crowded, I think the pigeons outnumbered humans by 3-1. There was a fellow standing there with seeds in his hands while at least 20 pigeons landed on him in the scramble for food. Andy and I decided to pass on this aspect of St. Mark's Square as neither of us was looking to get covered in pigeon droppings.
We walked around just taking it all in before stopping at a quaint little restaurant for an Italian Supper. I was dying to try a slice of pizza from all the little pizza houses we passed, but I was saving that for the next day. I ended up eating pasta and of course Tiramisu. It was devine. After eating we made our way up the side streets once again and did a little shopping. I couldn't help myself and selected a gorgeous soft pashmina that could be doubled as a scarf. I made only a half hearted effort to haggle with the guy over price, and got Andy to pay the man. We headed back to the boat-stop and then took a ride up the Grand Canal for a look at how the Aristocracy of Venice live. It was absolutely breathtaking.
After this we made our way back down the canal, out onto the bay, and then back to Lido. We quickly figured out that the boats are obviously run on the 'honour system' as we paid our fares but no one ever validated our tickets.
We had a restful sleep and after a breakfast of crossaints we made our way back into Venice. We decided to head to the other end of the Island, past the train station to the quieter and less touristy areas. It was lovely to browse the streets and shops amongst the locals who were out buying bread. We were drooling over the various ice-cream shops and bakeries. By 11 a.m. both of us were in short sleeves as it was just fantastically gorgeous out. We made way back to the Rialto Bridge (the busier and more expensive side of town) to grab a slice of pizza for lunch. I have never in my life tasted pizza this terrific. I was already dreaming about pizza for that night.
We made our way back across the Rialto as the further you walk away from St. Mark's Square it not only becomes less crowded, but the prices of wares are much cheaper. It wasn't long before we were stopping for ice-cream. The flavours were out of this world - I ended up with Tiramisu, Panacotta and some other chocolate flavourur. Scrumptious! Andy tried the Sorbet and Panacotta. Let's say that both of us weren't long in polishing our bowls off! We stopped at a little restaurantnt along one of the smaller canals for drinks (I had a bellini of course) and happily watched the Matre'd pat the pretty womens bums as they passed by.
After trying the proper Italian Bellini's I of course couldn't pass by a shop that was selling this tasty drink and bought 2 bottles. (I'm thrilled to bits that I also managed to purchase some beautiful hand-blown Venetianan glass mini martini glasses that I will happily be drinking my Bellini's out of!)
We spent the remainder of the afternoon out enjoying the sun and taking in a few interesting sights such as the Venetianan Ghetto, Bridge of Sighs and Monumenti Dell'assistenza. At the Monumenti, which is a tall leaning tower, we actually witnessed a local Bride and Groom descending the tower after a photo shoot. We then took ourselves off to relax over some wine and beer as we watched the world go by in yet another of the lovely local squares.
We debated taking a ride on one of the Gondolas, but as they cost 100 Euro an hour, and as we were pressed for time, we decided to forgo it. It was very commercialized but we promised ourselves if we ever make it back there we will experience the Gondola.
We headed off to the train station to meet Valentina and Mike who had travelled down from Trento. It was so fantastic to see them after all this time (2 Years) and Val and I both kept saying how wonderful it was to finally be hanging out again and
who would have figured it would have been in Italy, especially back in the day when we were both working at SVGH!
We all took the boat back to Lido so that V&M could check into their hotel and Andy and I could change. This was the first time where Andy and I actually took a cab back to our hotel as our legs and feet were finally beginning to feel the strain of non stop walking.
When we met up that evening at 8 p.m. we decided to go to a pizza house on the Island as there were some pretty nice places to chose from. We sat and ate more amazing pizza while drinking Italian Beer, happily reminiscing about old times, groaning about Immigration and discussing all the other hoo-ha people have to go through when they relocate to another country (but its worth it). We then moved on to a great little bar for further drinks where we laughed the night away.
We made plans to meet up the next morning after check out, and upon doing so, walked around the Island until we came to the beach, the only beach in Venice we are told. It was an opportune moment for a few more pictures before heading back into town for some Italian Coffee prior to catching our boat back to the airport. It was sunny and warm and it was sad to have to cut our time off at midday but alas, our journey was ending. We waved V&M off after hugs and promises of plans to meet again soon, probably in England. I look forward to the day!
On the boat Andy and I were kind of quiet as we both reflected back on the breathtaking city of Venice. Words cannot express the absolute wonder of this place and I'm so grateful that we were able to have the opportunity to explore it together. Despite numerous warnings of how wet/cold it would be, we are pleased to report that nothing was disappointingng about this trip, including the weather. Everything was a dream.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005