It is a headspin to see a city whose streets are made of water.
You can see how the whole point of this city was maritime trade. The palace, and alll of the stunning architecture faces the grand canal. Everything happens by boat. If you were a foreign ship sailing into Venice beneath all of these winged marble statues, and golden domes, and large flying lions, you would be most impressed. If you were a Venetian returning home your heart would swell with pride.
However being the wonderful water city that it is means that if you catch a bus from the airport and arrive at the central bus stop – which is where all vehicles have to stop – then you and your suitcases have yet to travel a long way.
And there are no taxis.
I found out later that lots of the little boats and gondolas going past are taxis, and that is what you catch. There are certain points where they have lifts that lower your luggage down. Other places they have porters who do it.
But I had not figured this out first thing in the morning after my long flight from Brisbane. So clutching my directions in my sweaty little hand, handbag tucked under one arm, and somehow dragging along two suitcases, I set forth on my long journey to my lodgings.
I got lost, of course, and saw lots of the backstreets and little bridges of Venice.
(I was not the only one by the way). What made it more stressful were crowds of frazzled foreign tourists (like me), all clutching maps and luggage, all trying to go in different directions, in tiny little streets, with pet dogs on leashes, howling children, furious wives, baffled husbands, and local men trying to take your bags and carry them for 2 euro. Add to that dozens of little bridges criss-crossing the canals, very helpfully, but all of them with steps. So …. drag luggage up steps one side, crash bang tumble luggage down the steps on the other side. Find out it was the wrong bridge. Go back up that side, down the other side, and over the next bridge …. and so on. I wouldn’t count how many times I repeated that procedure. It was worth it though, because my lodgings are perched above dozens of very steep stairs. Being an expert by that stage, I got all the luggage up. I have a little attic room with a pointed ceiling and skylights that open and a little terrace.
The other things I have managed to do on arrival is to find an antique cameo jewellery shop (and fall in love with the most expensive, unaffordable thing in it) and EAT. I figure that the morning has earned me many suppers and I have just finished the last of them.
I got asked out by a waiter as I passed a restaurant. He came running out and begged me to please come back at 10pm and have a drink with him because I look just like his friend Dania who is very beautiful. It was an odd compliment. If he didn’t say the words “just like my friend Dania” I would have been instantly flattered. The comparison to “Dania” was confusing and amusing at the same time. It made me remember this funny time in Istanbul where a shopkeeper fell in love with me as I walked past his shop because (in his own words) apparently I … ‘make smell’ … The unexpecrted affect I have on foreigners …
Anyway, I figure you’ve seen plenty of photos of Venice and canals and gondolas, and heaps of you have already been to Venice. So instead, here are some photos of shop windows in the little alley arcades that you might not have seen.
I think I will spend tomorrow going back and forth along the canals – it is so relaxed, and you never know what you are going to see next
Today a fire engine / boat went blasting along the canal with sirens blazing and lights flashing – all of the men in uniform – it was very exciting and everyone stampeded to watch – I didn’t see any hoses or usual fire engine stuff, but I suppose being on water all they need is a pump and buckets
20 July 2013, Venice – Italy