Friday, 26 August 2011

One More Time in Venice

We have, I must admit, been here before. So, as I don't want to repeat myself and bore my readers (Heaven forbid!) I decided we would stay away from St Mark's Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge and look at some things I haven't shown before.

However, just to keep everyone happy and so as not to disappoint, here is a shot from the deck of Thomson Spirit of St Mark's with the bell tower, basilica and Doges' Palace. The Bridge of Sighs is just off to the immediate right but was surrounded by screens and scaffolding.

Having been before, we decided to forsake the ship's offer of an excursion and even the special boat solely for Thomson passengers and instead saved around sixteen pounds by buying return tickets for a water bus that picked us up right next to the ship. The excursion boat would have cost us forty pounds for the two of us and we would have been stuck to the allotted return time. The water bus cost us twenty six Euros.

Having said this, we knew we had to come back fairly early so as not to arrive for the final returning boat only for it to be full! Everyone who misses sailing time has gone ashore independantly! It is an expensive thing to do, missing a ship...

So this time we had a walk around the arcade which surrounds three sides of St Mark's Square. Florian's Restaurant had a small combo doing their refined thing outside, seen here as I walked behind them in the arcade. Usually they play classical or opera pieces. For some reason we got there in time to hear the final bars of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da... Just the thing to bring medieval Italy to mind!

The arcade shops include several narrow booths, part of the restaurant where customers can sip their champagne or espresso. Of the actual shops, jewellers are the most represented traders.

Miss Franny was paying close attention to these and I curried a bit of favour by purchasing a matching necklace and earring set of Murano glass.

Now, whether I've shown gondolas before or not, you can't visit Venice without doing a spot of gondola gazing. They are everywhere, from the lagoon shore at St Marks to piazzas where canals meet, to the Rialto Bridge. And at all points inbetween, gliding down narrow canals and under tourist-filled bridges.

"James behave! We're being filmed!"
"Oh, not again...!"

We just gave up on direction and wandered down the side of canals and along shopping streets until we were hopelessly lost. I knew where we were roughly but we couldn't find ourselves on the map. The map had all the street names. The streets have all the names of the piazzas... It gave us a fresh perspective.

Bits of street furniture brightened up the sometimes quite dingy alleyways. Such as this wonderful apartment building collection of doorbells.

Then we found ourselves back at St Marks Square and headed down the lagoon front to a pavement cafe where we could enjoy a cool drink and a spell of people watching. I've always found that knowing how to count up to five and say please and thank you will get you a long way. I know only a very little Italian beyond that, but have never had a problem. They all speak excellent English anyway, but appreciate you making the effort.

Then we made our way back to the water bus station and waited for a boat back to the Thomson Spirit.

Sailing out of Venice on a cruise ship is one of the great cruising experiences. It also brings home to you how big these huge ships are. The Thomson Spirit is tiny next to some of them but even on that - we were up on the highest deck which is Deck 10 - we could look over the rooftops of Venice and pick out a few decidedly wonky-looking church towers!

Two days in Croatia still to come!

Large versions of the photos: all the photos from this holiday can be found in a special set at Flickr.

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