Venice For A Few Hours

We had heard and read about the extremely ridiculous rates for hotels (even compared to regular Europe) in Venice. Thus we planned to stay somewhere else and drive up just for the day. The vehicle was quite efficient on fuel and even the $20 in toll roads and $20 parking for five hours didn’t come close to the premium they were charging there. We popped in to a couple and got their rate sheets. Most likely dumply little double rooms were going for anywhere from 300 euro’s to 800 euro’s per night. The 800/night one had a really nice marble lobby mind you. The McBride’s had chanced upon a very nice apartment for a three night rental we found out afterwards. They got a much more reasonable rate of about 200 euro’s for several beds, (not just a double room like hotels offer).

On the 130KPH three lane toll road, it only took us about three hours to go a little over 400km at about 140-150 almost the entire way. The Ford Galaxy (mini-van with four regular doors) was pretty nice and handled remarkably well. It was a little larger than the newly introduced Ford freestyle back home. We rented a GPS unit (which after Australia, we now consider to be an absolute necessity when traveling anywhere we haven’t lived) which easily directed us right to a huge parking garage.

We walked a short distance and over a few bridges to get to the bus station. Adjacent was the main launching point into the canal city for that West side which was connected to the mainland by a long low combined bridge/causeway. Being just after noon, we had our minds on some fine Venician cuisine. The first place we encountered offered a variety of pasta or pizza dishes, all for the bargain price of 19.95 euros! That’s over $32 Canadian!!! This was heat-lamp slop probably made way back in the wee hours of that morning… Yeach! Needless to say, we continued on wandering the wonderful sidewalks further in to town.

For some crazy reason I had always thought that Venice was partially canals with roads in between most of the waterways. This is a now ridiculous possibility as I wander around and see that there is no opportunity for roads anywhere in the city. This was really hit home to me just on the other side of the bus station where the canals “started”. There was a standard “cargo” boat loading up suitcases. This included using a conveyor belt that was lowered and raised on hydraulics so that there was minimal hefting of bags around. This meant that there was no possible way for those bags to get to the hotel rooms by a hand cart as we had seen in Augas Calientes, Peru or in Phi Phi Don, Thailand. Sure enough, when we later took a boat ride there were many little hotel entrances (some very nice looking!) that opened directly to the water and had no sidewalk access. As much as I’d ever read read and seen about Venice, it was still incredibly magical to be walking alongside the canals. This place has character oozing out from between each cobblestone in the walkways and out of every crack in the slowly sinking buildings.

We had a very enjoyable time wandering the sidewalks, all the time heading towards San Marco Square. Alex was enthralled with the beautilly crafted masks in so many of the shops. Luke was just thrilled to run through so many large groups of pigeons when we got to the square. There were some bistros and small restaurants that offered slightly more reasonable prices than the originally gouging we’d seen at the first restaurant by the bus station. Around four in the afternoon we started working our way back to the car parkade on the opposite edge of town. This included the requisite gondola ride, which was stupidly expensive but also quite magical. “C’mon!” I kept accusing myself. “It’s just a simple boat ride with a guy at the back performing a constant and strenuous modified “J” stroke at the back using an elongated oar”. Still I had had a huge grin, and my head was bopping back and forth and every which way in between checking out all of the cool sights and taking in the ambiance from a perspective on the water. With another few hour drive home we ate some sandwiches on the way and then mostly just crashed when the headlights turned in to our adoptive driveway for the week.
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