I arrived at Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station just before noon. I came out of the station to be confronted with two facts. Facing a canal, I realised navigation is not quite as easy as being on one land mass. The second, the somewhat abrupt realisation that Venice was in fact created before all that politically correct and thoughtful stuff like access to places via ramps, etc…… Yes, I know, I packed my case, I should be able to manage it. But for goodness sake, does Venice really need that many steps…. Every bridge, steps… (I tell a lie, one actually had a type of ramp on it and two had a section with shorter steps that were rounded.)
Then my favourite technology, google maps got confused as to where I was and sent me over an unnecessary bridge…. Dark looks, google maps! I ended up finding a restaurant on google maps and asking directions to where I was staying. Worked a treat!
So I found my accommodation, B&B La Terrazza Dei Miracoli, and the ‘buzzer button’ at the gate had a sticker to say to ring the owner. I wasn’t exactly sure the prefixes etc, because the number started with a plus sign (+) so I went on to booking.com which is where I booked it and there was an option to ring the property. The owner lives a couple of minutes away so she was there before I knew it. Amazing place. Also, an amazing lot of four flights of steps. But worth it. (tomorrow morning I think I will just let gravity do it’s stuff with my case.)
As far as my reputation for quirky accommodation, it remains intact. My room is very comfortable with full length windows opening like French doors against a cast iron ornate guard rail. My view is of beautiful typical Venetian buildings. Across the hallway is a kitchen with a terrace leading off it. From the terrace, you can see the tower from Piazza San Marco. There is also a church very close that rings it bells every 30 minutes.
So off on one of my wanders I went. I do think that the best way to explore Venice is to free-range wander and have a back up of google maps or similar (and be luggage free).
It wasn’t long before I discovered that there are an awful lot of shops and stalls that sell the same things. Glass jewellery, ornaments and art for one. Handbags seem to be the next on the list, followed by masquerade masks, tshirts and assorted souvenirs. While that gives you the opportunity to get an idea of the going price for something, it doesn’t help if you were counting on later using a given shop or laneway as a navigation reference point…… They all look the same!
Venice is also covered in restuarants, gelato shops and bakeries. I finally tried cannoli for the first time. It won’t be the last!
So I ended up finding the Rialto Bridge, one of the four bridges that span the grand canal. It’s pretty impressive that the construction of this bridge started in the 1580’s. I continued wandering for an hour or so before I figured I should start looking for Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square). It actually snuck up on me, I was wandering down a narrow land when it opened up to a huge space. I then realised that I had entered via the laneway next to church. There were people everywhere.
I remembered what Rick Steves said about Piazza San Marco. There are some amazing places to sit around the square. The drinks and food are pretty expensive…. but ….. these restaurants have the best places to seat and watch the world go by, the waiters are dressed to the nines, there is a live band, (in this case piano, clarinet, violin and piano accordian) and not only is it fine to only order a drink, it comes on a silver tray with a couple of dishes of nibbles too. Yep, the drink is expensive, but the experience on the whole is good value.
After my people watching session, it was back to walking the narrow laneways and taking more photos of canals and gondolas.
I have to say, Venice is to be seen to be believed. I have no idea how long it would take someone to memorise the laneways and squares. It must take years.
My train is leaving tomorrow morning at 9am for Florence. I will be leaving early, hoping to dodge crowds while I drag my poor case up and down the bridges.
For more pictures, please visit my travel blog:
find B&B La Terrazza Dei Miracoli, at http://www.booking.com