Two things you don’t do in Venice – take a gondola ride, and poke someone in the eye. The first is way too expensive and the second, well, if you make a Venetian blind, they hang you (boom boom).
Venice is like a rich dessert – you have to take small bites to properly appreciate the flavour. Our small bites consist of an afternoon trip into town from our cruise ship, and a second foray today after we transfer to our little hotel in Cannaregio.
It’s really surprising when a place exceeds your expectations. I expected a town more or less like any other, with a couple of canals for the tourists. What we find is a place that literally sits on the water, criss-crossed by canals and little winding streets and alleys. Our first target is St Mark’s Square because we’ve heard it’s the place to see. Apparently a few other people heard the same thing. The crowds rival anything we have seen on our travels so far. Ok, let’s try to find the Rialto Bridge. Same thing. Maybe a gondola ride? There are cries of “Gone doh LAH” everywhere so it shouldn’t be a problem. Ah, eighty euros for the short trip? Maybe we’ll just wander the shops. We’re starting to feel that Venice is pretty, but expensive and way too crowded.
Wind forward about twelve hours. We’ve just checked in to the amazing Hotel Abbazia, which is built within the old Monastery of Venice’s Discalced Carmelite Friars. Ok, Calle Priuli dei Cavaletti was a wee bit challenging to find, mainly because it is a pedestrian street about two metres wide, and there was also that little issue with us having the booking dates wrong, but it’s all sorted now and we’re feeling good. Time to have another crack at Venice from the other side.
We’re starting to get the hang of things now, wandering the narrow lanes and alleyways, with the inevitable backtracking when we hit a canal and have to find the little steep bridge before we can continue. Nanette is loving the quirky shops that line most of the alleys, and I take the odd few photos here and there.
…Lunchtime. We do as the locals do and drop into a trattoria. Our host gives us the menu. We go through the charade of pretending to understand Italian, and then ask him to recommend some pizzas. Somehow, Nanette ends up with a kind of Hawaiian pizza with balsamic all over it and I get the olive and artichoke specialty of the house. We’re really full when it’s time to find our way home. “I’m sure we turned left after we crossed that little bridge near the house with the shutters.” Lost? Us? Never! It’s best summed up by the words of the local when we pull out our little map and ask where we are. “Where you are? Venezia of course!”