Saturday, 5 April 2014

Venice, Day 0.5

Venice, Italy

Before I can begin the post, I have to tell you that this was another place we had trouble getting to. There were major road works going on and our GPS got confused and kept telling us to go places we couldn't go. We knew we had to go in a certain direction, but there was a train track that blocked our way, so we had to keep driving and hoping that one of the ways across wasn't blocked off. The more we drove and the more our GPS was telling us to "turn left in 200 metres", the more we worried that we would enter a Zona Trafico Limitato. Those dread signs ringed in red that threatened to fine us - and what's worse, not even telling us how much we'd be fined, meaning it was probably hundreds or even thousands of euro. But eventually we did find a road over the tracks and arrived safely at our camp ground.

We planned to spend three full days in Venice, starting the next morning, but we were too excited to wait. Catching a bus into the historic centre of Venice (the canally part), we went in search of a restaurant.

The bus deposited us at the bus depot. Buses and cars could go no further, because of all the canals. It was a cloudy night, and the map we had didn't show the little streets accurately - if there was a street that zig-zagged, for instance, it would just be shown as a diagonal line. Lazy cartographers, if you ask me.

We walked through the alleyways and along the waterways. Though this will sound cliche, Venice was like nothing I've ever seen before. The whole feel of it was magical. 
Having no reservation, we had to wait for a little while before we could be seated at the restaurant we found, so we kept wandering. We saw several masquerade shops selling the decorative Venetian masks. My mind ran away with me, and I could imagine noble men and women of Olde in frilly clothes twirling their way down the streets, dancing and running and laughing, all masked. 
The food was good, but the elderly English couple next to us had ordered much too much. They offered that I eat some of it for them, but by then I was full up. Very kind of them, though. The couple on our other side (also English) were just there for a few days for their honeymoon. It must be nice to fly somewhere like Italy for the weekend, but in New Zealand it's just not practical. You spend almost as long on the plane getting there. 

There was a church every way you turned, and many were ornate and expensive looking. The night made the lighting dramatic and grandiose. The churches were marked on the map with a cross symbol, and there were over one hundred in the historic centre. 

I'd like to think that everybody had their own personal boat. You couldn't even use scooters or bikes in Venice because of all the bridges across the canals. As you can see, they arch over the water to allow boats to pass underneath, and because of this they have steps. Most of the bridges hadn't been replaced or new ones built for over a hundred years. 

Venetian graffito (singular form of 'graffiti').
Also broccolo. And spaghetto. Italian is awesome.

It was a cloudy night, and before catching a bus back to the camp ground, we stopped to take this picture. It was very late, and I was tired, but so excited for the morning so we could return.

Venice, Day One