Archive for the ‘venezia’ Tag

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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