This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sojourn on the Solstice Pt 3

Venice. Wow!

We've been lucky enough to arrive in Sydney on a ship - the dear old QE2 no less - and both thought that the beauty of that could not be bettered. Maybe it's still number one in our eyes, but I gotta tell you, Venice comes mighty close.

Our first sight of land was around midday - no early arrival here as it was over three hundred miles from Dubrovnik, but soon  all the little outlying islets began to appear as we approached, and then entered, the main channel to the port.

Already we could see some of the delightful little canals and waterways as the tugs came to join the ship and guide us in. The views from the deck were terrific but it must have looked equally spectacular from down on dry land too, seeing this vast ship navigate it's way through all the taxis, ferries and water buses.

Actually, it was quite surprising to see the tugs. Being a modern very manoeuvrable ship, tugs are rarely required, however there is a rumour going around that a ship's captain once dispensed with the tugs' services saying he did not need them. Apparently he woke the next morning to find a horses head next to him......

It was nearly two o'clock by the time we had docked but were not alone. Alongside was the 'Nieuw Amsterdam' from Holland America Line. The distinctive Cunard red funnel was visible from further out but it wasn't until we were much closer could we see that the Queen Victoria was also in residence. Joining us in dock was the much smaller 'Happy Dolphin' from Happy Cruises.

I had managed to skip lunch for a couple of days but clearly extra energy was going to be needed with all that walking apparently coming up so a burger and chips was wolfed down from the poolside grill. We then got our things together and headed ashore. Celebrity had laid on a a boat shuttle service into (well, near to) St Marks Square for what they considered a 'nominal fee' of US$22 each. There was a time cruise lines provided all this sort of thing all in but that a rant for another time. We walked around to the side of the dock and discovered that you could get a water bus that would deposit you right alongside St Marks Square for about half the price. We handed over our Euros and jumped on.

There is an incredible amount of traffic, but then of course virtually everything has to be transported by water - particularly people. There are scheduled water bus services darting backwards and forwards and smart and sleek private taxis vying for your business. It's a wonder there aren't more accidents.

We all got off at St Marks Square and were confronted with a line of Gondolas. Of course it had to be done, so as soon as we had recovered from the shock of the price, climbed on. Expensive or not, (I have since calculated that, per minute a Gondola is nearly four times the price of the ship's internet - and that's saying something) it was very pleasant. The narrow little waterways are lovely, if a little smelly. One can only wonder at the pong in the summer however.

Ride completed and wallets emptied we went for a stroll around some of the quaint little alleyways. There is some very smart and very expensive stuff on sale here, from designer clothing to blown glass from Murano, just across the water. Our meander took us back to St Marks Square where the unanimous decision was that it was beer o'clock. There are restaurants all around the edge of the square, many with live music playing. We chose one, was handed the menus and sat down.

And quickly got up again. Whilst there is music playing there is a 'surcharge' of just under six Euros per person for listening. A further quick glance at the menu revealed that a beer was gonna cost 10 Euros. Not wishing to fork out nearly fifty quid for four beers we scuttled away, and headed to the 'bus' stop and back to the ship.

It was extremely foggy the following morning when we awoke, but we still hoped to get some more exploring done before the ship departed at 1pm. Fortunately it soon started to clear and by 9.30am we were ashore again. A short shuttle train takes you out of the port area and deposits you outside the main bus interchange and alongside the central railway station at one end of the Canal Grande - the main thoroughfare through Venice. And busy it was too. Yet more water buses and taxis joined Gondolas and commercial boats, these ferrying all manner of items - from post and parcels (ugh!) to restaurant and building supplies. The Canal Grande weaves an 'S' shape around to it's convergence with the main channel near St Marks Square.

With gifts bought,photos took and caffeine and sugar levels restored we headed back to the ship. The Nieuw Amsterdam had left last night, but the Costa Cruises 'Costa Allegra' had arrived in it's place this morning.

The departure, back along the main thoroughfare and out to sea just as special, the sun had put in an appearance, helping to ease the Autumn chill. Venice had joined Dubrovnik (and many other places) on the 'must come back to' list'.

Venice (9)Venice Venice (1)

Venice (2) Venice (3)

Venice (4) Venice (5) Venice (6)

Venice (7) Venice (8)

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