Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 August - VENICE

Ok so currently, right now, this very minute I am sitting on a train with my wonderful husband and 2 lovely children on our way to Venice (Venezia).

The train is not exactly the most comfortable but we have 4 seats together and we are only travelling 2 hours on this particular train. There are all sorts of travellers on the train with us, a family from India, some Italian Military dudes, a group of French women (who by the way are not all skinny) and some young adult types in the seat behind Iain.

The trains in Italy (the fast ones) travel mostly through tunnels which is ok if you travel through the night, but very boring during the day. The normal trains travel above ground and you can enjoy the countryside rolling by very quickly, it is soooooo pretty.

The boys are not paying any attention they are playing their nintendo dsi's , at least they are quiet. And I so love that I can blog while in transit, thanks to internet keys.

We arrived at Venice at lunch time. We walked a far way to find the agency that keeps the keys for the apartment. Then we walked back to where we came from to catch a ferry to the Rialto bridge, we were met there by Sabrina a shop owner that greets people and takes them to the nearby apartments for the leasers. We turn the corner past Golden Point (swimwear), walk past Max Mara and turn left at Rolex, then turn right at Calle dei Calice and walk through the hole in the wall, open the gate behind the restaurant and climb 4 flights of narrow stairs (only half have handrails) to reach our apartment on the top floor (huff n puff). Bye, bye Sabrina, thanks for showing us the way.But the apartment is good, we are up 4 floors (hell stair climb) good views over the top of buildings and churches. From the living area if you stick half your body out the window and turn to the left you can see a canal.

It looks as though the Venice council has been cleaning up the city quite alot over the last few years. The canals look cleanish and they don't smell as much as the Gold Coast, the allyways are clean and lovely. There are no rubbish bins(wheelie bins) in Venice, you put your rubbish in a plastic bag every night and put it outside your door, and magically in the morning it is gone. Fantastico!

We eat lunch and venture out to San Marco (St Marks Basilica)…follow the yellow metal signs stuck on the sides of buildings up high with arrows pointing in every direction you could possibly go to get to your destination. We weave through crowds and stop in at Murano (glass) and Burano (lace) shops and check out the prices (lucky we came at SALDI time). Finally we reach San Marco (really only 10 mins) and what a sight, it is so beautiful even with all the people milling around. The kids are still with us too, haven’t lost them yet :-).

The square is big surrounded by restaurants, cafes, shops and gelateria. I found the first café in built in Italy after the Turkish men introduced coffee to the Italians. (It is quite a funny story the history of coffee in Italy, lets just say that they didn’t want coffee at first because they thought it made you “gay”. )
Anyway back to my blog, we went into an art gallery in the square that is all glass items, tried to stay calm with the boys in there.

After exploring the square we walked around to the Adriatic Sea and follow the path through markets to a gorgeous bridge (there are many) and took many photos of boats, gondolas, people, churches, islands and more boats for Iain (if it isn’t cars it’s boats).

We turned around and headed back to the square where I got to go into the Doges Palace and see all the wonderful art and architecture all by myself in peace with no whinging children saying they are bored. Only thing is Iain had to miss out too.
After viewing St Mark's Square we all headed back to the apartment and heated up some frozen meals the we brought with us from Florence (good way of saving money).
The boys wanted to watch a movie on the computer after dinner, so we locked them in the apartment with a mobile phone (in case of emergency) and Iain and I went out for a short walk near the apartment(didn't want to go to far). We found some buildings that were leaning quite alot, unfortunately we didn't have the camera with us to take any pictures of it.
We came back to the apartment with pastries and the boys were still up watching the movie and Levi was so proud that he got to be the 'man' of the house for a little while.

Day 2 of Venice, we decided to use the boat tickets we purchased the first day and went to Lido to check out the beach. The ride to the Island was great and very relaxing also saw some amazing sites, like the botanical gardens and the war memorial. Lido is very pretty and it has cars on it, we walked to the other side of the island in 10 minutes and the boys ran to the water, we decided to give them 30 minutes. They were in there for 20 minutes and came out with stings from a jellyfish (not quite as bad as a bluebottle for us Aussies). So the boys have now swam in the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea now. One day they will realise just how lucky they are.

We left Lido and went to Santa Maria di Saluti , a very beautiful church that you just can’t miss if you are on the Grand Canal. It was of course closed for Siesta when we arrived so we went into the Art Gallery next door (modern) this Iain and I paid for (15euro each) the kids were free. We soon discovered that we had to preview each room before deciding whether or not to let the boys see it (for instance a room full of little skeletons and disfigured people figurines at war… called F’ing Hell) Not Good!!! Ratings people!!! Ever heard of them!?! So as you probably guessed the boys had their eyes shut for most of it. Some parts were quite interesting like different cities made in coloured glass and somebodies idea of history through magazine advertisements. Back to the church, it was FREE and beautiful and we could take photos without the flash, just gorgeous. The area surrounding the church was lovely too, very pretty buildings and bridges over the canals.

After the art gallery and church we headed back along the Grand Canal to the Rialto Bridge and back to our apartment for lunch/afternoon tea and dinner.

The boys did not want to go up the Bell Tower in fear of having to climb many stairs, I too was a bit apprehensive. So again Iain and I locked the boys in the apartment and went to the Bell Tower in St Mark’s Square and low and behold there was a lift to the top (WOW!). I was so excited! We went up there and the views were spectacular especially at 830pm with all the lights. We spent about half and hour there taking photos and enjoying each others company child free. We did not leave the boys too long, we did however get a little lost on our way back to the apartment and had to use a map to get back. ;-) Perfectly natural to get lost in Venice.

Day 3 Our last day in Venice, We woke early and went to St Mark’s Basilica, I lined up for 45 minutes waiting for it to open and the boys went souvenir shopping (as we only had a few hours left in Venice). And boy did we blow a bit of cash on souvenirs there…hehe. Oh well it was mostly for friends and family.

St Mark’s Basilica (built in 1094) was wonderful and FREE the tour takes about 10 minutes and there are NO photo’s allowed so I purchased some postcards to show what it looks like inside. Also I like to buy something or leave a small donation if it is a FREE church.

After the church we walk back to the apartment, grab our belongings and head to the boat to take us to the train station. The boat ride is always nice and the scene is spectacular. The train station is like all other train stations, we wait around an hour before it is time to board and find out what platform we leave from. On the train we end up sharing a compartment with 2 Italians who do not speak a word of English, they slept most of the journey, so did we. 3 hours after leaving Venice we arrive back (home) in Florence.

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