And so we headed east through Northern Italy to the famous City of Water to start our cruise of the Mediterranean…
We recently watched a documentary about the considerable social, economic and environmental stressors for native Venetians, and frankly it was quite tragic. Few local people can afford to live in Venice itself, so those lucky enough to be employed commute daily from the mainland.
And although the major subsidence (caused by extraction of water from below ground) has halted, poor Venice is continuing to sink about 2mm a year. Doesn’t sound much, but it must be a worry when the water is already lapping at your front door!
First great surprise was how easy it was to find our way around. We caught a vaporetto (water bus) that transports both locals and tourists. It was a whole new experience to travel in a floating city where 118 small islands are separated by 170 boat canals and linked by 400 foot bridges… Magical!
We easily found our stop and only had to walk 150m to our hotel. Accommodation is very costly in this city, but we had booked the Hotel Ala at a reasonable rate.
So Surprise No 2 was the brilliant location, within walking distance of all the places we wanted to visit. Our room overlooking a canal was fine, and the desk staff were helpful. Fantastico!
First visit was to Piazza San Marco, the famous St Mark’s Square which is just full of history through the ages. Several of Venice’s major sights are located here and if you turn around slowly you see so many different styles of architecture.
We were puzzled to see raised walkways on most streets but their purpose soon became clear! It was high tide in Venice and the city was flooded with water up to mid-calf level. The locals were wearing their gum boots, and the tourists had to buy very fashionable (not) plastic leggings.
There was no choice as there is no other way to move around other than walking… And those walkways were overcrowded… And barefoot just did not appeal!
Murano glass is famous for its beauty so it was great to see the artisans at work. Some pieces were beautiful, others were not to our taste. Of course the one piece we loved was 5000 euros. Hmmm, it’s still on the shelf waiting for that Lotto win!
We finally boarded the Viking Star and met up with our American friends. What an amazing reunion, and what a beautiful ship.
She really stands out in port, and the interior is also beautifully designed. Not sure how they have achieved it, but our home for the next 13 days looks and feels like a luxurious hotel while still being truly comfortable.
So we came to Venice with eyes wide open, and left feeling great tenderness for this city. She reminds us of a lovely old lady wearing lots of furs, jewellery and bright lipstick to disguise the fact that time is moving on – but is even more lovable for her attitude.
If you have been to Venice, do share your experience with us…