Archive for the ‘grand canal’ Tag

Venice – The Grand Canal   18 comments

The main water artery through the city and we hadn’t seen it other than a brief view from the Rialto and Accademia bridges and outside the train station in the rain. After our beach day we headed back out for an evening meal via Piazza San Marco and a Vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal. The museum of the Punta della Dogana that marks the start of the Grand Canal.

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Setting sun over the houses and palazzos

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And the now familiar Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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Seen here from under the Ponte dell’Accademia

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An interesting sculpture called – actually I have no idea! There were lots of sculptures lining the canal

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It was late in the evening and the light was a little dim for decent photography. Some nice sunset skies though

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One of the many palazzos along the canal

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And the classic view of the Rialto bridge

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Day fades into night

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We hopped off just beyond the Rialto as it was getting pretty dark. I liked these hands!

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Last lingering sunset shots before we headed off for another fine Italian meal. They do pasta really well in Italy (unsurprisingly!) I learned that the pasta should be the star and not the sauce necessarily. Every pasta meal just had enough sauce to coat the pasta rather piled on. Every pasta was cooked to perfection and delicious. I think the meal tonight was at the Al Vecio Bragosso Osteria but I can’t be sure

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After the meal we took in our nightly gluttony of gelato from Grom and ate it by the hands

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Next morning I got a bit lost on my breakfast stroll and ended up surprisingly on the Rialto.

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As I admired the peaceful early morning view a Vaporetto pulled up and I instinctively jumped on

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The Grand Canal was even better in the morning. Crystal clear blue skies and an empty boat. Just perfect

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The Grand Canal was prime water front property in the glory days of the city. The finest merchants and members of society would all have their houses fronting the canal. Only way to see it is by boat as there is no water front walkway

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Every house seems uniquely designed and built, no two the same. It’s a visual treat and its hard to know where to look. My one regret is that I didn’t find time to take a trip along and back the full length from San Marco to the station with a map and audio guide.

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It’s a mesmerizing trip and well worth seeing at first light before the boats get too crowded. In fact when I return I plan to head up and down at various times of day to really get to grips with it

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Ponte dell’Accademia

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Sun coming up over the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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Ponte dell’Accademia

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And more shots of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. It looked particularly gleaming in the morning sun

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After breakfast we headed out for another city walk and decided to get there with another boat ride along the canal. The boat was much busier, so busy in fact we didn’t stay on as long as we wanted. The canal was much busier though with loads of taxi boats and delivery barges. Fascinating to watch the city at work on water

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Gondolas earning their 80 Euros!

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Views looking back left and right to San Marco and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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And back under the Ponte dell’Accademia

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It was an especially clear and sunny morning and the Palazzos were sunning themselves to great effect

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Turning the corner the Rialto comes into view

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A little video that sets the scene a little better than photos

 

I should have taken more video. Most of my other small cameras have always taken pretty poor video so I don’t take much. My new camera takes excellent video so it was a bit of shame I didn’t use it more.

And a final shot just before the crowds forced us to return to foot transport

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Just one more post from Venice before me move on to cities new

 

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Venice – Murano and around the Lagoon   12 comments

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Onwards from Burano and on to Murano

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Venice is famous for its blown glass and there are shops everywhere. Some of it fabulous some of it terrible some of it plain weird. Murano is where the vast majority of the glass is made.

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We managed to find a demonstration but after peering through the door for a couple of minutes we were told we had to pay. I thought that was a bit cheeky. Most similar places let you watch or tour for free and hope to make their money from sales. Considering the fee and the fact that obviously making glass needs a furnace we decided to stay outside in the natural furnace

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Murano is very pleasant and quiet place to wander about. The main street/canal was catching the sun very fetchingly. The number of glass shops was astounding, 75% was my estimate. Very useful if you wanted to buy glass but we wanted a Gelato!

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In searching for a Gelato seller (first time and only time it took longer than a couple minutes to find one in Italy) we cam e across this very vivid glass sculpture the Cometa di Vetro

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Eventually we procured our Gelato and sat by the canal to scoff it

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Whilst Murano is very nice, it doesn’t have the grandeur of the main island or the colourful charm of Burano so we decided another boat trip was in order.

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We’d done a fair bit of walking over the first week of the trip so a bit more leisure was well earned

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We decided to taker a longer ride around the outside of the main island to get a different feel for the city

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Boat travel was really enjoyable as most are small so you feel in touch with the water as it were. The boats stop very regularly and its a slow ride so plenty of time to take in the views

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A short video here to give a feel for things

 

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As there is a causeway linking Venice to the mainland, the outside circular service have to head inside for a short while. This is one of the larger canals with what looks like a fine walkway that we never found time to wander along

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Non motorised transport

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And along the far reaches of the Grand Canal past the railway station

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The Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo, a prominant site with its copper green roof and the first building that catches the eye on the way into Venice from the railway station or the car parks

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The Ponte della Costituzione, one of only four bridges over the Grand Canal. Known locally as the Calatrava bridge (after the architect who designed it) it was the first new bridge in Venice for over 120 years. It links the city to the car parks and cruise ship terminals

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We got a close up look at a couple of the cruise ships and an enormous private yacht

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The boat carried on around the southern side of the city between the Dorsoduro district and the island of Guidecca

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The Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario

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The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and San Marco Bell Tower

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Close ups of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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And the San Marco Bell Tower

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The only problem with the Vaporetto is they are built for transporting people rather than sightseeing. Most of the seating is inside so if you want to enjoy the view you have to stand on deck. No problem with that but as the boats move slowly and stop often, after a while the feet get tired and you need a break. We decided to stop off for a wander and a drink. We took a stroll from San Marco along the Riva Degli Schiavone

The waterfront walks in Venice are some of its finest. This one running east from the Piazza is rather busy at first but as with all things Venice once you wander more than a few minutes from popular sites its quiet. We found a splendid spot for a sit down

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The views across the water in the afternoon sun were mighty fine

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Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore

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Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I seem to have taken a lot of photos of this church. It is pretty striking and dominates the view from San Marco and the Grand Canal

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As we wandered along the waterfront one of the huge cruise ships sailed past. You can see from this photo just how huge these monsters are. I think they are the reason why the cities on their route (in our case Venice and Rome) were so crowded. I’m not sure how many people they hold but it must be thousands. They disgorge their masses that hit the city like a tidal wave in the morning, swamping the city through to till late afternoon with tour groups. Its the tour groups that were the biggest frustration fir us. If you get caught up in one it’s like you’ve been swallowed by the crowd. I half expected to get caught up in a tidal movement of people and suddenly find myself on a ship heading for Dubrovnik or Split! The locals are not too keen on them as they swamp the city but only stay a few hours spending a good chunk of their subsistence money on board the ship rather than in the city in restaurants and in hotels and the like. Not my sort of thing but they are big business now and do give an opportunity to see places like Venice to those who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I had no idea how many of these ships were cruising the Med. There were a couple in the city every day we were there

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There is a lovely park at the far end of the water front in the Castello district

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As we sat enjoying the sunshine another cruise ship sailed past. Pretty impressive to see them so close up

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We were actually a along way from the apartment. Nice thing about Venice is you are never too far away from a Vaporetto stop and there will be a boat going somewhere near where you want to go.

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This one took us back to the waterfront a few yards from the apartment. Sorted

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A fine day on the water and the islands. What better way to finish than with a cracking meal on the waterfront at the Ristorante Pizzeria Da Alvise

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We hadn’t quite sussed out the subleties of Italian menus at this stage. We thought that “Primi” were small courses and “Secondi” large courses. Turns out both are big, the former is pasta, the latter meat or fish based.

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TJS made the mistake of ordering both. At least they knew what a messy eater he was and dressed him accordingly 🙂

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It was a superb meal. Excellent day with loads packed in

Venice – First Impressions   19 comments

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Another day and another train journey. Early start but with the station just across the road, no problem

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Our first experience of Italian high-speed trains – Frecciarossa – and very fine and very high speed they were

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So good are they that Nick Hewer of Apprentice fame uses them

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We stopped at Milan Centrale for a few minutes giving me a chance to hop off the train and take a couple of photos of this very grand station

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The day had started well but as we approached Venice everything was dark and gloomy. When we emerged into the chaos that is the outside of Venice station it was raining. Not that it mattered as the humidity was off the scale and I was soaked in sweat anyway. My only weather niggle in three weeks of sunshine was that we didn’t arrive in Venice on a sunny day. The city positively gleams in the sun so it would have been great to get the wow factor as you step out from the station

Time for our first experience of Venice’s public transport system, Vaporetto boats.

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They are wonderful way to get around and great fun, if a little crowded at times. The boats are mostly small so you are really close to the water. They are a bit pricey but each trip is like an excursion and its a wonderful way to experience the city.

We were escorted to our apartment in the Cannaregio district by the lovely Giorgio and his dog, dumped our bags and headed out for lunch and shopping while they finished cleaning

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We returned to unpack and settle in. It was the best apartment we stayed in. Beautifully appointed and spacious in a quiet neighbourhood, near the waterfront, restaurants and shops all close by and 15 minutes walk from St Marks. The crowing glory was a balcony overlooking the rooftops and we ate out there whenever we were there. Splendid choice

While we were sorting ourselves out the dark skies that had been looming finally went black and the heavens opened. It was one of the most violent thunderstorms I’ve seen for a few years. I took a bit of video but it doesn’t really capture just how loud the thunder was or any of the spits and crackles of the lightning.

 

After an hour it stopped and the skies began to clear. It was the last time it rained on the trip.

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Eager beavers, we headed out for our first taste of Venice

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It was the only city on our itinerary I’d been to before. I took a day trip from Croatia in my teenage years (it was Yugoslavia in those days – shows how old I am) on a family holiday with my parents (the last one as it happens). Despite the fact that we spent more time on the coach than we did in Venice, the day had a real wow factor. I’d never seen anything quite like Venice and had very fond memories. I was eager to see it again

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We headed straight to the main focus, Piazza San Marco, St Marks Square. The rain had forced people back to their hotels so it was relatively quiet. Even under grey skies it’s a sensational place. The square is huge, overlooked by the Campanile Bell Tower with the Basilica di San Marco at the far end. More on both of these in later posts

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The other main sight on the Square is the Palazzo Ducale (Doges Palace)

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With the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) linking the palace to the Prisons. Again more on both in upcoming posts

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We sat on the steps by the waterfront where the Gondolas tout for business. Taking a Gondola ride is supposedly a quintessential part of a trip to Venice. However I consider not spending £80 on a 30 minute boat ride to be equally quintessential. I don’t feel we missed out in any way by not taking up their kind and less than generous offer

The clearing skies were starting to deliver the glorious views of Venice we’d hoped for

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TBF is still resentful of this photo, claiming we always try to make her look small in photos. We don’t have to try!

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We decided to take a wander across town heading in no particular direction. Even more so than Paris, Venice has wonderous views around every corner. Either a church as here, or a pretty bridge or silent canal. Its stunning and I loved the place all over again straight away

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Now you may be wondering what on earth this photo is. It’s a picture in a shop (expensive as I recall), one of many of cats and dogs dressed in a variety of outfits. We spent the whole trip looking for tourist tat of the worst kind. Even though this doesn’t class as tat it was the most bizarre thing we saw in a shop window and it amused us immensely. Incidentally the winner of the tacky gift award went to Paris and the Eiffel Tower shaped toothbrush

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We stumbled across the Ponte dell’Academia (the Macadamia Nut bridge as I christened it) over the Grand Canal, our first glimpse of the city’s main transport artery.

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I find it rather odd that the canal only has four bridges (two at the entrance to the city, the Rialto and this one. It makes getting from one side of the city to other an interesting challenge but a fun one

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Everyone gets lost in Venice and its part of the fun. The streets and canals follow no particular pattern you often end up going around in circles, ending up in a dead-end or just popping out to find yourself not entirely where you expected to be. The maze of streets is bewildering but you will almost certainly come across a square, church, canal, bridge or stunning vista you wouldn’t have otherwise seen if you’d been where you thought you were (if that make’s sense)

Like this square we stumbled across while trying to get to the Rialto. I can’t be 100% sure but I think it’s the Campo Sant’Anzolo withe the Santo Stefano Bell Tower behind (it does lean by the way)

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We wandered about back and forth for a bit until we turned a corner and suddenly we were on the banks of the Grand Canal with the a view to the Rialto, the most famous of Venice’s bridges

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Even though it was around 6pm you can see the crowds massed on the bridge

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Venice is renowned for being crowded and in places it can be oppressively so. There is a sort of main drag between the station and car parks, the Rialto and St Marks square and all three are crowded places and streets. However step away from there and the city is peaceful and quiet and there is a lot of city to explore. In addition first thing in the morning and in the evening the crowds dissipate and the city while still busy is pleasantly so with a wonderful atmosphere and fabulous restaurants. It was the best place we visited for just wandering about as of course there is no traffic, just boats on the canals.

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We scaled the bridge and jostled for position to see along the canal in the evening light. It was marvellous. Again more on the grand Canal to come

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Satisfied with our first explore we returned to the apartment for a meal on the balcony while the sun went down. I felt instantly at home

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We had four more days in Venice to explore further, ride on boats, swim in the sea, get lost and eat lots of pasta and ice cream

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