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Viva La Venice!

ITALY | Sunday, 22 June 2008 | Views [1251]

 We traveled by coach from the lovely Austrain Alps; said “Goodbye” to the cold weather (with some relief it must be admitted, although the area was so beautiful) and “Ciao Bella!” to the gorgeous 30 degree + sunshine and clear skies of warm, wonderful Italy.

The new campsite we are at has a private beach just a two minute walk away from where we are pitched, so once we figured out the muddle of fitting twelve tents, plus the two cook's tents into the three sites that we had, Em-J and I hit the sea. It was probably around half eight when we finally got onto the beach, so the sun was setting over the horizon behind the sand. The beach was practically empty, we had the water all to ourselves; it was so nice and cool after a sticky day of traveling on the coach, naturally we went a little nuts.

I guess for those reading – let's just put the words 'a little nuts' into perspective. Em-J and I already consider ourselves certifiably insane (It's a Fraser Girl thing but I've flushed my little white pills down the sink and buried my straight jacket in the rose bed), so to actually say we've gone nuts – well what do you call the place beyond the edge of insanity? Good banter? Whatever it is – it was a whole lotta fun.

Bed and than an early rising to get to Venice on time so that we could optimise our time. We took the coach and than a water taxi into the islands of Venice. To say that Venice well exceeded my expectations is a bit of a stretch seeing as I didn't really have any expectations for Venice – I didn't really know what was there at all... That worked out perfectly fine though because I wasn't disappointed at all – Venice is totally amazing!

There are some draw backs – the heat and then that Venice is a huge tourist trap; the streets where cobbled with people – so much so that you couldn't even see the white granite tiles beneath your feet. Once you adjusted to swimming against the flow of the crowd, the next thing that grabbed your attention was the neat snow-white bridges that arching over the canals, the spectacular array of marble mosaic used to craft the buildings in and around San. Marco Square. Tall pillars of smooth stone – red, green, white, black, grey marbles; statues, glided clock faces, frescos, delicate glass lanterns and lights and never forget that eternal companion of the city centers – the humble pidgeon.

Worse than the flocks of tourists(almost) where the flocks of black pidgeons massing around your feet. They looked like swarms of flies gathering around a leftover tit-bit; something akin to Stephen King's “Birds” I thought although I've never watched the movie or read the book. And that might just be a good thing considering!

Blistering white sun seared right through you, bounced off the stones and scorched you again; yet a strong ocean breeze blew in once in a while – just often enough to releave the feeling of melting into the sun and sea.

A Venice Snapshot: Brilliant aqua water, vivid whites, strong terracotta, paint-box buildings in every color of the rainbow – flowers, people, birds. Venice is a city of vitality, it is a heaving, flowing, breathing, glowing, living city.

The dark narrow ally-ways are a tight bewildering maze – the walls are so sheer that the burning sun cannot penitrate so they make a welcoming, cool and shadowy cave-like passages to poke through. Some places are so small only two people can walk side by side – the streets on the map marked as straight are definately wonky, everything seems to be really winding, twisty and generally crooked in a old-time way. The canals criss-cross the back streets, the windows pressing on either side of you are filled with merry masks, sparkling glass, colorful clothes – all sorts of enticing goods to purchase.

We spent the morning walking around – we visited Sna. Marco Square, the Realto Bridge, found the market on the other side than decided to take a tour for the rest of the afternoon. We visited Murano, Burano and Torcello which are three of the hundred plus islands that make up the Venitian Delta.

Murano is known for its glass blowers so we watched a demonstration of that – a glass caldroun being blown and than the master glass blower shaped a horse. We watched the glass quiver as the horse was pulled into shape, flowing out of the glowing yellow globular blob of glass into a shining crystal steed. The master put a strip of paper against the glass to show us how hot it was and it burst into flame amist the gasps of awesome and clapping of appreciation.

After that it was back into the boat and we were on Burano which is famous for its lace – it takes a few different women, each with a speacialty in a certain type of stitch approximately three months to make a dinner plate size piece of lace. The other thing to see there where the fishermen's houses. Sunflower yellows, clear sky blues, heart of ember reds, sunset pinks, fresh oranges, duck egg teals – each house contrasted and complemented the gentle sea water lapping at their doorsteps. The white washing hanging on the side of the houses from the second story windows flapped merry in the breeze – hanging like white fluffy clouds in an azure sky.

We moved onto Torcello – and soaked up the picturesque Roman ruins – grave stones, empty buildings, a magnificent church. Torcello had an empty, peaceful feel; like stepping into a chapter of history that is content knowing its time has past, yet can dwell on happy memories. The population on this island used to be well over a 1,000, but now it is enjoyed by numerous cats, dogs and at least a few goats as well as the local residents – fifteen people all up.

When we got back to Venice 15 of us took a rides on three seperate gondalas – it was really cool to be able to expiriance Venice from a different level. There where many back canals to negiotiate, tight corners to squeeze around, lots of boats and houses to see (we slid past Marco Polo's house which is now the Venitian Opera House and the Palace on the Grand Canal). It was great to be able to tick off one of those must-do-in-your-life list items, but I don't know that I'd do it again, or even recommend it as a romantic venture simply because the back canals are not that pretty, plus the lower parts smell because of oysters/mussels that paper the walls up to the high tide line. It might be much better at night time, but than you'd be looking at paying a lot more too!

After dinner and more walking, we saw Venice at night time before we headed back to camp. It was certainly a superb sight to see – the night sky faintly sprinkled with distant stars, the soft yellow light glistening on the rippling inky water. It's quiter, peacefuller, and so much cooler (literally and figuratively) at night.

We saw the moon rise blood red over the distant islands tucked asleep in the Adratic Sea and said goodnight. I thought of home and the bushfire moons and was glad that a dark moon isn't always an ominous sign, as we had a fanstatic day in Venice – definitely one of my favourite expiriances so far, but everything keeps getting better and better so we'll see how long it stays on the top of my list!

Today Em-J and I spent all day on the beach enjoy the sun, surf and sand. The water is lovely, beach was busy and bright with all the different shades of sun umbrellas, but not too crazy which is nice. We kept a blue 'fuzzy muppet jellyfish' umbrella as our towels marker and had a great time popping in and out of the water and sleeping in the sun. Hopefully we're not too burnt! Some of the others in the group joined us and we'll go back for another swim before the night is through. We are also planning to get up at half four to watch the sunrise and swim again before our long coach ride to the next stop on our expidition. That's been the last three days, so I'll sign off now.

Ciao Bella – b. :3

Tags: beach, gondalas, italy, sunburn, venice

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