Wednesday, 16 May 2007

14th May

14th May

Another warm day in store by the looks of things and we got organised to travel into Venice by bus and boat. It wasn't all that cheap to get there at 16.60e return, but this included 2 bus journeys and a boat trip, so maybe not all that bad in terms of value. Italy, in general hasn't been cheap, not extortionate, but not a cheap holiday destination. Anyway, we took the 2 buses which took about 45 minutes to get to the boat terminal at Punto Sabbioni. We hopped on the the fairly large ferry boat and settled down for the journey which took about 25 minutes. It made a stop off at Lido, which looked nice. I think there are some hotels there and it's more than likely cheaper to stay there than in Venice itself. Finally, the boat rounded in the lagoon and we could see the domes and spires of Venice up ahead.

The ferry docked at San Marco and we stepped out to the quay wall where there were the usual tourist stalls selling t-shirts and trinkets, and also some restaurants. Once over a small bridge spanning one of the many canals, we were able to get a flavour of the Venice that everyone has seen on travel shows on TV. It's very pretty, in a slightly shabby in parts way. There were the expected gondolas, splendid looking in deep gloss black paintwork, and I watched one of the gondoliers as he used the large paddle to keep the boat moving, making it look effortless, as he kept up a running commentary with his passengers. Also, water taxis, some of which had really amazing varnished decks and were very pretty craft indeed.

We wandered around the streets for ages looking in the shops, stopping off at a small restaurant in a little back street for a good cheap pizza lunch deal and continued on. My only gripe really was that Venice seems to really just exist for the tourist trade, and obviously I know that we were part of that, but it just gets a wee bit tiresome after a while, seeing all the same tat aimed at the tourists. I mean, how many shops and stalls are really needed to sell the same stuff? There was some nice jewellery and glass ware, but some hideous tack too. I think the worst thing I saw was a kid on gilt framed 3D picture of venice with a gondola in behind the plastic screen. It really was the worst kind of 'Made in China' crap I've ever seen. I can really do without all that kind of stuff.

We stopped off in a square just behind the Ponte de Rialto bridge. There's a real lack of places to sit. We didn't see any benches - ended up sitting on the edge of a fountain that was drained of it's water, and we got wired into our bottle of cheap red plonk and had some good sliced fruit from a little stall, and watched the owner's dog chase the pigeons. In San Marco square there were hundreds of pigeons, all there to be fed by the tourists and some folk had pigeons on their arms and on their heads. Yuck. Filthy flying rats!

By around 7pm, we'd had enough and were a bit fatigued, so headed back to the quay to catch the boat back to Punto Sabbioni and it was getting dark when we arrived back at the campsite. A good day sightseeing in Venice though. Tomorrow we are going to head for Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, which we're both quite excited about, having never been to that country.

As we leave Italy, I'm left with far better impressions of the country than the last time I visited. Probably down to the places visited, which were all very nice. The people were very friendly in the most, and prices, although not cheap, were still on a par with the UK and Ireland for eating and drinking. I'm certainly glad that I spent a bit of time, even if it was only really in the North of the country.

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