Day 14: SUN-KISSED VENICE
It was 6:30am when Julie awoke. I awoke 15 minutes later.
As expected, we saw that the ground was wet so clearly it had rained last night as the weather forecast had predicted. However, we were expecting it to rain all day today, and so far this morning, it seemed like the rain had let up with even some sun breaking through the clouds!
I thought that was a good sign because we didn’t want to leave Venice without at least seeing the sun kiss this “city of dreams.”
Julie and I were dilly-dallying in the room for a bit and it wasn’t until 8:45am when we were having the included breakfast. And it wasn’t until 9:25am when we finally started to head into town to explore it at leisure.
We had no set itinerary today because what we expected to do today (i.e. Burano) was done yesterday out of the fear that we would miss the sun if we didn’t seize the moment and go for it on that day. The jury was still out as to whether the sun would be cooperative today given the unsettled weather that was predicted. It’s times like these where living for the now often means not taking anything for granted by putting things off.
The first order of business as we walked into the city was to go all the way to the railway station where we would catch the Vaporetto dell’Arte. However, since it was still around 9:40am, we waited a bit for the Vaporetto dell’Arte tour boat to show up. We made the mistake yesterday of taking the crowded and rushed taxis so we weren’t going to make the same mistake today (though we saw other people do what we did yesterday after a bit of confusion).
We were about 20 minutes too early as the Vaporetto dell’Arte didn’t start running from the Ferrovia stop until 10am. That was when the brownish boat with long slick shape showed up and Julie quickly staked a claim to one of the frontmost seats.
Unlike the other boats that we took yesterday, this Vaporetto was far different in that there were plenty of open spaces and I was able to maneuver around the boat frequently so I could take some photos of the buildings flanking the Grand Canal. They also checked the tickets to make sure that the special ticket we bought was shown and that it was valid according to the machine on board the boat.
As expected, I was able to photograph the Grand Canal from the middle of the canal itself (especially in spots where bridges didn’t span the wide canal) as well as check out some of the attractions like the Rialto Bridge itself.
By about 10:50am, we got off the Vaporetto a couple of stops beyond the Piazza San Marco. We disembarked instead at the Giardini dei Biennale. And at this spot, it looked like there was quite a large crowd of people as well as long queues as it seemed like there was some kind of event going on.
We didn’t bother with the event and instead walked along the lengthy waterfront. We could see the tall protruding clock tower of Piazza San Marco way in the distance so we knew that we had a bit of a walk before us in order to get back to the Piazza San Marco (which was where it seemed like quite a bit of the action was).
During the walk, we could see that there were plenty of day visitors who got off cruise ships. We could also see that the sun was starting to persist a little more as there were some pockets of blue skies. Indeed, the weather was turning out far better than what the forecast had predicted!
Still, looking into some of the side canals while ambling along this atmospheric walk (while also getting exercise in the process) was certainly a pleasurable way to experience Venice as far as we were concerned.
Even though we were only walking along the marina, we could really appreciate the vast size of Venice and its network of canals as we continued to routinely pass by these smaller canals that seemed so inviting for us to explore.
And while Julie and I were still ambling along with no real itinerary, we decided that now was the time to go for some early lunch.
At first we looked at the immediate Piazza San Marco area. However, we didn’t particularly want to be ripped off just to be in the action on this go around. So we ended up rejecting all the restaurant choices on the perimeter of the square.
So then we started to go into some of the smaller alleyways again. Again, we had no clue where we were going, but for some reason, it seemed like no matter which obscure street we chose, there were lots of foot traffic and plenty of shops.
The lunch was simple but hit the spot, and it wasn’t one of those nearly $100 USD places. Now we were a little concerned about our stomachs since we had apparently gotten sick off of bad seafood in Positano, but this time around, it seemed like there were no issues with the food.
At around 12:40pm, we were done with the pastas and left the restaurant. Next, we ambled about aimlessly some more back towards the Piazza San Marco where we then noticed there were some people atop the tall tower overlooking the square. So we decided to go line up for this tower (called the Campanile), paid the 8 euros per person, and took the crowded lift up to the crowded viewpoint at the top.
Up here, we could see all around us a birds eye view of the city. We weren’t high enough to see the curvature of the Grand Canal, but we could see the sea of red from the tiled rooftops of the buildings as well as the impressive features of some of the non-red-tiled buildings like the domes of the Basilica di San Marco as well as the wide square itself looking out the other side.
However, we couldn’t get that S-shaped view of the Grand Canal since it was too buried deep amongst the tall buildings surrounding it.
Unlike the Cathedral in Florence, this basilia had a grand and impressive interior. There were other parts of the basilica that could be toured, but they folks here were nickle and diming by charging more euros to get into places like the Treasure Room, the terrace, and others.
Next, we ambled about through some busy streets that I tended to refer to as the outdoor shopping mall (talk about monetizing the place!). The intent was to look for some of the smaller quieter canals for some more photos of Venice’s canals.
I knew that we didn’t even visit a large chunk of Venice in the two days that we were here, and so that was kind of a testament to just how grand this city of Dreams was. Yet at the same time, Julie and I were getting Venice’d out so we figured now was the time to go back to the Piazza San Marco and catch the Vaporetto back in the other direction along the Grand Canal to the Ferrovia Station.
Ultimately, we’d board that Vaporetto dell’Arte and it was just Julie, me and another couple on this long brown boat. With the sun kissing the city with some blue skies in the direction we were looking, I took even more photographs (on top of the nearly 1,000 photos I had already taken to this point) which seemed to have more color and life than what I had taken earlier this morning.
Indeed, it was like Rome all over again from the standpoint that there was some nasty predictions of 90% showers and thunderstorms on the two days we were there, but then the weather cleared up quickly and the skies ended up being sunnier than anticipated.
It was great that we were able to get some bel tempo in Venezia because it would have been a shame to spend time in this beautiful city without the benefit of the sun’s kiss to add life to the scene (and our photographs).
After passing by the place and making it to some square deeper into San Croce, we then backtracked towards the Ferrovia station thinking we mind as well give up on chasing food like so many times before (resulting in disappointment). But that was when Julie finally found the gelateria Alaska (at 3:25pm) which had a handful of people waiting as well as eating the gelato from here.
And after all the time and trouble spent looking or this place, Julie admitted that it was worth seeking it out as the gelato was light and not too sugary.
Finally at 3:55pm, we were back in the room at Palazzo Cendon. We saw the same receptionist as yesterday, and we got some more pointers from her about taking the transport lines back to the airport where we could then figure out how to get to the rental car place (since tomorrow, we would resume self-driving for the last week of the trip).
And so on this relaxed day, we did what the locals typically would do – have a siesta. Hopefully, we wouldn’t oversleep to the point that we’d have dinner later than expected and miss out on seeing the Rialto area in twilight.
The first thing we did was to take the public water transport to the Rialto Mercato dock where we then walked towards this place called All’Arco. It was basically a father and son joint that provided cichiere (basically bruschettas with some creative mix of toppings).
When we first walked into the humble corner deli at 6:30pm, we bought some 6 of them (of which 4 were different from each other). At a cost of 10 euros total including 2 bicchieri (glasses) of water, which we took to a nearby table just outside the corner deli in a seemingly quieter part of the area west of the Rialto Bridge and Market.
That pretty much acted as our appetizer (or antipasti if you will), and then we walked towards the bridge and looked for a more atmospheric dinner along the grand canal. We had a feeling that the food her wouldn’t be great but we were after the ambience this time.
Anyways, we settled on this place further away from the Rialto Bridge on the right hand side where thre was a large group of restaurants all along the waterfront. We happened to pick one particular place because they served chicken cacciatore, which Julie really wanted to try.
It was during this dinner that the skies really started to darken and the clouds unloaded on the city. Fortunately, we were eating within the sheltered dining area on the banks of the grand canal so we watched how the weather unfolded as the Rialto bridge emptied with the heavy rains (clearly people were seeking shelter) while watching some of the gondola riders in the open-air suffer.
When dinner was over, it was around 8:20pm. So we then slowly walked across the Rialto Bridge while taking more pictures of the Grand Canal from the bridge’s apex. Then, we continued walking away from the bridge downstream along the canal until we finally found the boat dock that more or less had Julie’s panorama view she saw in a puzzle.
Unfortunately, that puzzle was taken later at night and I didn’t have a tripod. I eventually waited for such lighting events to occur, but when 9pm rolled around, it just wasn’t meant to be as not enough buildings were lit up to provide that twilight night glow.
At around 9:45pm, we were back in our room. We then took our laptop downstairs so we could Skype Tahia. And when that videoconference was done, Julie and I were left to our own devices to get whatever internetting needed to get done before we called it a day.
Tomorrow, we had to figure out how to get back onto the main land or bus station, and take that to the airport where we would then figure out how to get to the rental car area to commence with our last week in the country, which would be taking place in the far north.
Again, we hope that the weather would cooperate enough so we wouldn’t have to cancel any of our waterfalling plans due to snow or hazardous conditions from such intense storms that were happening consistently it seemed throughout this trip.