Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Venice

We had decided we wanted to be somewhere exciting for NYE. Last year we were in Paris, and while Paris is always an amazing city to visit, we still felt like the NYE celebrations weren't that exciting (it's difficult to top Sydney fireworks). We thought Venice would be a better choice for this year, and although it proved to be a complex and expensive affair, I think we were ultimately justified. Plus Venice is the home of Tiramisu, and we love Tiramisu!

Venice is not the simplest city to enter. You can't drive in, of course, so we parked in Mestre and planned to catch the train in. While this may sound straightforward, we had been lulled into a false sense of security about trains after living in Switzerland for too long, and assumed the train at our platform was the right one, subsequently ended up in Padua. After some frantic ticket buying and tense moments around ensuring we were now on the correct train, we did eventually arrive in Venice.

Then you have to catch a ferry if you are going any significant distance from the station (okay you can walk, but where's the fun in that?). We waited a huge amount of time at the ferry ticket office, which seems to be set up as some sort of a natural impediment to overcrowding on the ferries by limiting the number of people who can buy a ticket within a sensible timeframe (ie: it was very slow).

Anyway we eventually caught our ferry and began the walk to our Hotel and of course, being in Venice, we got lost. While lost, our hotel called us and told us our booking had also been lost and they'd booked us instead into a different hotel, on the other side of the island (at least it was an upgrade at no cost).

After managing to find both our old and new hotels in the maze of Venice's alleys, and the delays in getting to Venice in the first place, we were tired and annoyed and stressed by the fact that our time in Venice had already had a big chunk taken out of it, so we made the decision to stay for an extra night.

We made the most of the remaining daylight that first day to 'climb' (there is a convenient lift) the Campanile in San Marco to catch the sun setting over the city, and then had a quick run through the Basilica di San Marco before it shut.

We'd also found what we believed to be a modest Osteria for NYE dinner. We'd booked an early sitting to avoid the very expensive set menu and thought we were quite safe since it was a fair distance from the main tourist strip, however one look at the menu prices set us straight.

We decided that we might as well just forget about money and have our nice meal, which was indeed very nice, even if the service was a bit pretentious. The main event, of course, was desert of Tiramisu (practically our main justification for coming to Venice) and this Osteria was meant to have some of the best in town. In fact it was very good Tiramisu, but possibly not making up for the bill at the end of the meal.

We then headed on to Piazza-San-Marco for the NYE celebrations. There was entertainment organised, and the square was full of people and, to top it all off, it started to snow and kept snowing all the way through to midnight.

After the stroke of midnight, everyone rushed around to the lagoon side where there was a fireworks display - so there we were, in Venice, at Piazza-San-Marco, on NYE, watching fireworks in the snow!

The next day (after a bit of a sleep in) our options were a bit limited as most of the major sites were closed for public holiday. We did manage to get back to Basilica di San Marco for a more dedicated tour of the cathedral, but anyway Venice is just one of those places you can spend days wandering around the alleys, taking photos of Gondolas on the canals, window shopping for glass beads (that was Linda) and eating Pizza by the slice.


We stayed another night, enjoying a tasty meal at a Trattoria near our hotel, where Linda overdosed on dishes involving black squid ink, and some more (but sub-optimal) Tiramisu, and the next day we did a tour of the Palazzo Ducale, dutifully walking over the Ponte dei Sospiri (bridge of sighs) and generally freezing to death in the old palace.

We did one last grand tour of the town for more last minute purchases, photos of Gondolas and slices of pizza, before deciding we should find out whether our car had been stolen and burned in Mestre in our absence. We took the ferry out of town again, along the grand canal to the train station.

Venice is the most expensive city in Italy, and we visited it at NYE which is peak season even in the depths of winter, so we left a lot poorer than we arrived, but it was definitely the highlight of our trip and well worth the stay. Also it turned out, much to our relief, that our car had not been stolen and/or burned.

2 comments:

Sally Grove said...

Gorgeous photos. I am very jealous. Happy New Year to you both and hope to see you in 2009 (somewhere, somehow)...

materials said...
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