Monday, 31 December 2007

Dove posso trovare il bagno....Scusami!.....Mi sono perso.....Arrivederci!

After a 3 hour journey in Euro star (the train in fact was very good considering the fact that we were travelling 2nd class) we arrived at Venezia , "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light".

The city is full of small canals and narrow alleyways and its very easy to get lost. We did not need any further invitation and did the most obvious thing, got lost on our way to hotel. After some panicky moments, we found the correct way and landed at our 4 * hotel, which I must say was quite impressive. We even had a bell boy to take our luggage to our rooms (in Rome and Florence, we were handed just the keys of our rooms and told where to go). That goes to prove you get what you pay for and we had paid a lot for our rooms in Venice.

Venice is an intriguing city. The only methods of transportation are walking or boats. The local transport system consists of water buses and there are private water taxis. Even the municipal and police vehicles are boats.

We walked through the narrow alleyways crossed innumerable small bridges (getting lost goes without saying) and arrived at Ponte di Rialto , which is one of the three and most famous bridges across the grand canal .

The bridge is beautiful and is a major tourist hot spot, it offers a very good view of the Grand canal. The atmosphere and the crowd around made me realise why Venice is known as a romantic city (couples snogging while standing on the bridge made me realise that Venice had other effects too if you know what I mean).

Then we walked along the grand canal and reached Piazza San Marco which is a big square with St Marks Basilica at one end. At night the whole square is lit up and is a sight to see. Whatever I saw of the St Mark's Basilica in the twilight impressed me a lot.

We then took a water bus to another bridge across the grand canal, the Ponte dell'Accademia or the Academia Bridge. There were some stores across this bridge which sold amazing paintings and artifacts. The masks for which Venice is so famous were beautiful. But unfortunately they were closed due to Christmas (not that I would have bought them if the stores were open. But it gives me a valid excuse when somebody asks me what did I buy in Venice..'Nothing as the stores were closed, you know') .

Roaming the streets of Venice was a great experience. We also visited some smaller churches. But again the statues and paintings in those churches too were very good.After a dinner of pasta (what else) with mushroom (which by the way had more mushroom and some strands of pasta and should have named mushrooms with pasta dressing) we retired for the day (Imagine staying at the most romantic city and sleeping at 9 PM !!. The woes of being single) .

Next day, the sun was shining (at last) and we made our way to St Marks Basilica. The Basilica is again a testimonial to the art and artists of the bygone era. The paintings on the ceilings, the artifacts in the treasury speaks volume.

Another attraction at the square is the pigeons. The pigeons are so used to tourists that they don't shy away and practically pose for photos and not to mention the fact that they have become so fat eating what the tourists feed them, probably they have forgotten finding food on their own. Feeding the pigeons and getting photographed while they climb over your hands and head, pooping all over you seemed to be great hit with the tourists.

Next we climbed the bell tower of the basilica and at the top, we were treated to a splendid view of Venice.

Gondola ride through the canals of Venice was awesome. With the driver (I don't know what to call him) of the gondola describing the major landmarks as we passed by them, it was an experience to remember. Another famous bridge is the 'bridge of sighs' which connected the old prison with court house (hence the name, as prisoners were either heaving a sigh of relief or despair depending on whether the the court acquitted you or other wise).One more major historical fact is that Casanova (remember him?.. the womaniser...whom all men strive to become..but more often than not act to be..) was the only prisoner ever to escape from one of the most secure prison of that time in Venice (don't know why he escaped, he would have been better off inside, as all the women whom he seduced would have been waiting for him outside...what a terrifying thought !). The driver mentioned as a matter of fact that at some places the canals are 50 metres deep, which made me remember that I do not know swimming.

As the afternoon wore on, our stay at Italy was coming to an end. After a final lunch of pasta we headed towards the last of the three bridges across the grand canal, Ponte degli Scalzi or 'the bridge of the barefoot'. The sun was setting and reminding us the end of 5 wonderful days of exploring a beautiful albeit ancient country (for a moment lets forget all those misadventures, gaffes and pasta & pizza ok.. ). It was a great trip.
We made our way to the airport at Treviso and after a wait of 3 hours boarded our flight back to London. Stansted airport greeted us with this......

I'll leave you people to interpret the photo......

PS: 'The Chronicles of an Intrepid Traveller' ends here. But don't heave a sigh of relief. I will be back with more stuff which is liable to cause permanent brain damage.