Day #20 ‘Venice…the city of water’
We have been having some trouble with one of the rear caravan lights ever since Matt backed it into a fence in Spain. Matt and Kerry already bought a new pair of covers and replaced the broken one in Spain, but the lighting on the van appears to be bodgy and problems have reared their heads more and more since we ran over the cable. While Matt was re-wiring the lights (successfully this time) a ‘lovely’ French lady (very loooose term…lol) decided to chat him up. She picked up his screwdriver and pointed to herself. When Matt said, innocently, that she could borrow it, she laughed and said no…you…me. When he plaid dumb, to avoid further embarrassment, she went back to her van. What’s even funnier is that she was a rather rotund 50 something woman…eeww! Luckily for us, her and her female friend left not long afterwards…don’t have to worry about locking the window tonight…lol.
OK…time to explore Venice (or Venezia, as the locals call it).
Our pink Europe book told us that Venice is not an easy place to visit by car so we decided to take the bus from just outside the campsite, across the water to Venice, and visit this amazing place of islands and canals for the afternoon. The bus took us directly to the main terminal (called Stazione St. Lucia) in Venice (Venizia) for only €2.20 each return. From there we hopped on a vaporeta (water taxi) in Venice for €6.50 each (one way only) and headed up the Grand Canal (Canal Grande)…all the way to the stop at St. Marco (the far end of the Grand Canal). We decided to skip on a personal Gondola ride when we discovered in would cost us €80 for half an hour…and an extra €20 for every extra 20 minutes…water taxi will have to do!
Venice is quite costly if you are not careful. The pink book warned us of this and we were very wary. Interestingly enough we managed to pick up cloth badges for the boys for their camp blankets for only €2 each. This is cheaper than we have paid for them anywhere else in Europe. The soft drink stalls were also cheaper than Rome. They were €2 each in Venice, as opposed to €3.50 in Rome. We still didn’t buy them though…just interesting to note.
‘Venice’s origins date to the 5th and 6th centuries when barbarian invasions forced the Veneto’s inhabitants to seek refuge on the lagoon’s islands. The city was later where Marco Polo set out for China from in 1271. In 1797 the city gates were opened to Napoleon who then handed it over to the Austrians. In 1866 Venice was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy’. (Exert from the pink book)
We sat on the grass, not far from Piazza San Marco (Piazza of St. Mark) and enjoyed a lovely picnic of fruit and a soft drink (which we packed at camp and took with us). After that we wandered around the Piazza, stopping to watch an artist as he reproduced the scene in his own unique fashion. Zane and Darian seem really interested in stopping to watch any of the street artists we happen across…nice!
Matt, Zane and Darian went for a walk inside the Basilica San Marco. Kerry stayed outside in the shade with the bags and camera. No rucksacks or cameras are allowed in this Basilica and we were very hesitant about handing it over (as were many other tourists who walked away). Another beautiful cathedral, with floors that were slightly imperfect…guess it would not be easy to get materials and machinery across the many water ways that surround Venice.
The only disappointing part of this beautiful city, built on over 100 small islands and surrounded by many canals, is the extremely commercialised shops who are all selling the same thing, wherever you go: trinkets, masks, blown glass, puppets and so-called Venezian crystal (looked like glass to us). We were quite pleased to see that the patches we bought for the boys at the entrance to the city were €3.50+ in the mainstream shopping area… a good buy!
In one of the small side-streets (a little bit away from the commercial area) we found a pizzeria/gellati (gelato) shop. We all enjoyed a gellati for only €1 each…as we meandered our way slowly back to the entrance of the city, through the magical, character-filled alley ways, stopping for rests and photos along the many water ways as we went.
On the way out we stopped at the same entrance stall to buy a small gondola for €2.50 for a souvenir before getting back on the bus and heading for camp. We enjoyed ham and cheese jaffles for an easy dinner and relaxed in front of Zane’s little DVD player to watch BEN-10.
A GREAT DAY!!!