Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ten Days of Travel: Venice

Pretty and pretty busy. As I mentioned earlier K and I ended up in Venice on a weekend. At least thankfully it was two weekends before Clooney and Amal decided to get married. (I heard they shut the grand canal for their wedding, I would have been royally photography hollywoodly pissed with them. Imagine planning ahead and spending so much money just to know that the biggest attraction in Venice is closed.)

We reached Venice late evening on Friday but by the time we stood in the queue and another and got waterbus tickets, it was an hour and the water bus itself took an hour to take us to our bnb because we stayed in Lido, an island off the Venice islands at we reached there at 10pm. We took a Rolling Venice card by the way. It's an under-29 card that gives you discounts etc.
The one hour water bus journey from the train station through the Grand Canal under the Rialto bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, out into the sea near San Marco and stopping every 3 minutes, was actually very pretty giving us a tour of Venice by night. Here is a picture from the scenic trip.

And then generally a few:

Once we reached the bnb, which was a super cute villa with the owner living in an annex (out was it the other way around?), we headed out to have dinner but it was a little too late and we were worried that things will shut down. We needn't have worried though, Lido is village-like but still happening. We went to an Indian restaurant for dinner and made small talk with an older Canadian Pakistani couple at the next table. Venice is full of couples and honeymooners!

By the time we got to Venice we had been walking everyday for hours, for the last 7 days. And after Florence and Rome, there isn't much to see in Venice; it's just a pretty town with its interesting waterways instead of roads or even tiny alleyways. So we pretty much had no agenda and woke up late and took the next water bus to San Marco.
San Marco is like any famous south Indian temple (I say south Indian because I haven't seen many north Indian temples). It's internal walls are all gilded. The difference however is our ancestors used thin gold leaves to cover up all walls and then engrave the stories from our epics while this one used thin gold leaves infused on glass and created mosaics on all walls depicting the stories from the bible. Something like this:

While the church is very pretty, it's hard to see the detail of the gilded glass from far. There is roof top or a mezzanine floor of sorts which you can gain access to. From up there we could see the ceiling and walls in much better detail. There was a museum too of a few artifacts from the church that were preserved including four horses. These horses are made of bronze with lots of ugly scratchings on the polished bronze. Apparently that was intentional because the bronze shone so brilliant in the summer sun that people had difficulty looking at the horses!

The only other thing that was on our agenda was the Florence-missed Leonardo da Vinci museum. But on our way we saw a museum on making violins and violas and all kinds of magical things with the background score of a Vivaldi composition.

 Now as I've mentioned before in the previous post, it's not a museum of da Vinci's works but a tribute museum to his works. It contains wooden models, most of them working models of the sketches that Leonardo da Vinci provided for various inventions.
He was an incredible mind and his reach so far and wide, from architecture to machine guns and defence strategies to engineering. He studied transmission of motion and energy vividly. Here is a model (not working) of a flying man and another walking on water. 

Now that we are done with everything on the agenda we just mostly walked, only stopping by to have some OK food in the overpriced restaurants. There was this restaurant with a terrace seating with great views of the city but the reviews on TripAdvisor were really bad for the food and for the pricing too. So we decided to go before dinner at around 5pm and generally have some snacks or not. Because otherwise they would charge you a cover charge. We noticed that a lot of other people were doing the same thing. We got done beautiful views. We also captured some cruise ships ( honestly I think K never saw a ship before!!!! hope he doesn't read this).

But the views didn't include most of the city but just one sided and that too towards the sea. So we went up the bell tower. But it was nearly night by the time we got up there because we first spent a lot of time finding the public loo and upon realising it was closed, spent a lot more time going into a random restaurant and finding a socially-not-so-awkward time to use their loo and leaving without eating there or buying anything. K thinks I'm a sentimental fool to worry so much. He would have just gone to the restaurant in the first place and wouldn't have bothered with small talk. Anyway it was night. We got some great views but would have been better in the day.

We walked all the way to Rialto bridge to see the market and realised it's closed because it past 5pm. So we ate some decent pizza and walked around some more. We reached Lido quite late. And we were expecting to see shops closed, restaurants empty and generally like what we saw the previous day. But we saw a bustling centre very much alive and happening. Not as crowded as Venice which is a good thing. There was an open orchestra on a bridge and lots of people around it dressed for all occasions; the cyclists who stopped by to listen, the midnight strollers like ourselves just hanging around, fancy restaurant diners at their tables in flowing clothes and dribbling champagne, kids running around the water fountains. The orchestra was wonderful and the night was magical.

The next day. Our final day of our 10 day trip was only a half day. To make the most of it, we went to Cannaregio as early as we could, sat like 11am! It's supposedly the non-touristy area of Venice, off Grand Canal and close to the station. It was not touristy at all. It was just canals and alley ways of canals. A large square in the middle of the Jewish ghetto with a museum for the victims of Nazis did attract a few walking tour groups but largely it was a local area. We didn't go into the museum - we didn't have time and I wasn't about to get sad.

We strolled through the narrow footpaths next to canals and walked up and down bridges. We looked for TripAdvisor's most amazing cafe around and unfortunately the food was so horrible we ate two bites and left the rest. And then we were on our way to the airport.

To get to the airport we took a waterbus from Cannaregio to Piazzala Roma. From Pizzala Roma we took a PeopleMover (honestly that's what it's called and it's like a large cable car except it's cables are below on rails and not above; it's called a fennicular) to a island called Treviato. It's a parking island. It is created so that the residents of Venice may still buy vehicles and park them here. This island is connected to the mainland by a long road bridge. And then we took a bus to the airport, all because we were taking the flight from another Treviso airport. If it were Marco Polo we could take a waterbus all the way.

And we reached home after 10 days of travel.

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