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Two People, Fourteen Months, One huge world!


ITALY | Sunday, 8 May 2016 | Views [1163] | Comments [1]

Our experience of arriving at Venice Station with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express was like a scene from a movie. It is unfortunate that we were in a public bus driving alongside as it glided across the causeway rather than riding aboard but you can't have everything!

We had been forced to delay our trip across the English Channel for a further five days as we are only allowed to drive our car abroad for 90 days at a time and so we decided to seize the day and fly over to North Eastern Italy to visit the beautiful city of Venice with my sister Fiona and our four year old niece Sienna. Tamara and I have previously visited Venice together but this was on a cold and windy February morning and Tamara was left with few good memories. My mission this time was to win her over to my love of the city. Game on!

Before committing to our travels we checked the weather forecast for the week and they proved to be entirely accurate, right down to the thunderstorm timed to coincide with our arrival which resulted in the plane bucking and diving in the wildest ride I have experienced, at times drawing shrieks from the passengers. I think we managed to avoid Sienna being scarred for life by overcoming our inward feelings to pretend we were on a really fun roller coaster. Afterwards when asked whether it was fun on the rollercoaster she thought about it and then declared "it was a little bit fun, and a little bit not fun"!

Grand Canal View Towards Rialto Bridge

Grand Canal

The remainder of our time was wall-to-wall sunshine and our enjoyment of the moment matched this as we spent our time mooching along narrow laneways, savouring gelatos and exploring canals large and small. Everywhere we looked the waterways teemed with life, water buses, gondolas, water taxis, delivery craft and private vessels all vying with each other for the available space; all displaying far more patience and consideration than any Italian road drivers I have experienced. The high bridges offered great vantage points to observe the show being played out below. It is hard to believe sometimes that this is real life and not a performance especially prepared for we tourists and to consider that the same thing has been going on every day and night for centuries. And yet it has. The world is full of fascinating places and lifestyles and this was just one more fabulous place that we have had the privilege of experiencing over the past year.

The girls signed up for a Jewish Ghetto tour while I stayed in a plaza watching the bags and reading in the shade of a tree. Perfection! Apparently the word "ghetto" stems from an Italian word and Venice was the first city in the world to create one, enforcing a night time curfew for Jews to withdraw into a defined area whereby the gates were locked shut (openable only with a bit of cash!). This had the effect of concentrating Jews together which appears to have strengthened their culture and resulted in several synagogues in a small area which can now be visited in a 40 minute tour from the Jewish Museum.

Super Stars in St. Mark's Square 

Super Stars

A visit to St. Mark's Square is essential but, having sat down at one of the restaurants and received the menu, we quickly came to the conclusion that a coffee at €14 was not. Instead we wandered to the middle of the square and practiced star jumps with Sienna, achieving the perfect jump after only three attempts!

Coffee is not the only thing in Venice that is expensive beyond belief - try renting an apartment or hotel room! Our initial thoughts were to base inside the city for each of the three nights that we were there but this would have cost in excess of €600 even when pursuing the cheaper AirBnB option. In the end we had a bright idea to spend our first and last nights at a campsite just on the land side of the causeway. Our first introduction to glamping whereby you sleep in proper beds in permanent tents, no need to take bedding - all for €20 euros per couple per night. Nice. When we arrived Fiona opted to take an upgrade option for another €6 and spent the night in a little hut (or hutch according to Sienna) with power, light and heating. After a fairly chilly night Tamara and I opted for a similar upgrade for our last night. The campsite is just 15 minutes from the airport by bus and 10 minutes to Venice in the other direction. On balance, although the house we rented was fine next time we would forego this and base at the campsite pocketing the €160 difference.

Last time we went to Venice we didn't have tuppence to rub together and so watched the gondolas glide by folornly. This time we were determined to go on a gondola no matter what the cost and were delighted to see that prices have now been standardised and appeared better value than fifteen years ago! We were happy that our short voyage did not disappoint as we explored both the Grand Canal and several minor canals to the echo of a tenor accompanied by an accordion for a part of the trip.

Santa Maria Della Salute 

Santa Maria Della Salute

On our second full day in the city we made the most of our 48 hour transport pass with rides over to Santa Maria Della Salute, up the canal, across to the island of Murano and back to the station area. The water buses are busier now than ever but the delights that they take you to are undiminished in their beauty. Watching the glass blowers at work at their furnaces is always a fascination and doubly so when you have a four year old with you. Some of the light fittings in the myriad of shops on Murano are incredibly stylish, others incredibly gaudy. It all depends on your sense of taste I suppose. There were certainly several pieces that I would have welcomed into my home if I had the inclination to part with the thousands of euros requested.

All good things must come to an end I'm afraid and so it was that we headed back to the airport for a blessedly smooth flight back to England where we were delighted to find that the excellent weather was also present. We needed no further persuasion to lower the roof on the new car and take a meandering route back via the back roads of Surrey and Kent enjoying the warmth of the sun, the new leaves on the trees, the scent of the flowers and the sound of the birds.

Until next time.....

Tags: camping, canals, star jumps., weekend break




It would be fab to have traveled on the Orient Express but it is soooooooooooooo expensive. Venice was one of the few places that we were really sad to leave I am glad you both enjoyed it this time.

  Frances May 10, 2016 10:10 AM



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