After a whirlwind tour of Amsterdam, it was time to head to Venice. It might be faster and cheaper to fly between cities. However, the advantage of opting for the Euro-rail would be the picturesque scenery outside your window. Our train, starting from Paris, would pass through Switzerland in the morning. We woke-up early to watch sunrise and the first view of the Alps. With us, in our coach, were two chatty middle-aged Italian women. One of them spoke broken English; the other didn’t understand a word of it. They seemed to be rather worried that we didn’t speak Italian. I’ve found it strange and yet heart warming how people (barring immigration officers) have always been concerned for us. Although, what bothered me more, was having to figure a new transport system and get adjusted to a new country – all over again.
We reached Venice at 9 or 10 in the morning. Our hotel was booked in Mestre (mainland). After making few inquiries, we boarded a local bus and reached the stop closest to our hotel. From thereon we had to walk in circles to find our hotel. By now emotions were getting out of hand. We had completed a week in Europe and all I wanted was to find our hotel and crash-in bed. Finding your hotel is truly a fitting reward for the persistent. It was nearing noon, and we barely had time to check in – before boarding a local bus to Venezia. Then, hop on a Vaporetto and get off at San Marco.
Honestly, here’s what I can say of all the effort we needed to put to reach the canals. It was definitely worth it! The view of the choppy water, set across a backdrop of Byzantine architecture, is all the more captivating in reality. Towards the latter part of May, Italy was getting warm and it’s not always possible to see all that you intended. But, perhaps, that’s the beauty of Venice. It’s perfect to not have a fixed plan in mind. Choose an alley and let your feet guide you. Getting lost will be easier than imagined.
Piazza San Marco was packed with travellers and noisy birds. The cafes that line either side of the square are ideal for letting time pass and enjoy a meal. Instead, we chose to explore the quaint alleys. From tourist souvenirs to designer wear; there seemed to be something for everyone. It was tempting to attend a musical concert. Try as much as you may, but, it will be hard to ignore the brightly coloured buildings. Each window has a unique story to tell. And bright red flowers or washed clothes give a sneak peak of those who stay inside.
There are many circuitous alleys in each island stop. Some packed with tourists; some desolate. They all seem to be interconnected. You never know what you will come across and where each alley will lead you. It can be pretty confusing. Even with a basic map in hand. We started at San Marco and ended at a different place. But we weren’t complaining. We simply laughed it off.
The water in the canals is a deep shade of turquoise. Gondola oarsmen seem to populate the waterways. Singing loudly, it’s possible to hear them before you see them. You might find a few isolated corners – if you’re lucky. And some adventure seekers might even pick up their own kayak.