Just another site


on August 20, 2010

No one told me the first week of kindergarten would be so tiring! And I’m not even the one going!
Anyway, let’s not talk about that now. Let’s talk about Venice.

The Engineer has wanted to go to Venice for ages, but I’ve been several times (most recently when I was 18 though) and was rather underwhelmed, so we’ve never got round to it. However, as our big family holiday to Greece fell immediately after his birthday, and as flights from Switzerland are unsurprisingly expensive, we looked into alternative means of transportation and found… car ferries. Ah, how exotic, I hear you say. Well, no, obviously not. But The Engineer does love the sea, and since working in the aviation industry he has developed an interesting dislike of planes. And the car ferry leaves from Venice, a mere five-hour drive not including stops.

So we booked a Novotel on mainland Venice where things are cheaper and have parking spaces, and that was that.
As everyone knows, the ancient part of Venice – the part you actually want to see – has no room for cars, but you can still get to it by car via a huge bridge, which gives you an excellent view of the ferry terminal and multi-storey car park where you will be leaving your vehicle (the car park isn’t related to the terminal, anyone can park there). After that, you hop on a vaporetto, or boat-bus, which takes you round the outside of the city to drop you off at one of various bus-stops. We would have loved to stop at several places just to have a look round, but we had to be back at the terminal to board at noon, so we settled for the traditional Piazza San Marco. Thankfully it wasn’t flooded – it’s the lowest point of the city – but the queues for the Basilica were so long, even early in the morning, that we decided it wasn’t worth it with two children in tow. A shame because I wanted to see if the floor inside was as undulating as on my previous visit – something I assume wasn’t part of the original design. However, the children thought that chasing pigeons was vastly entertaining, and there was a live band playing outside one of the restaurants, so everyone was happy.

The tower was boarded up for repairs of some sort, and the bridge of Sighs had some bizarre sky-blue boards with adverts for some watch company or other on either side of it so you couldn’t get a good photo (see picture above, on right!) But no matter. We bought ice-cream and wandered through the back streets, vaguely in the direction of the Rialto bridge. Froglet and I spent most of our time admiring the glasswork in the shop windows, to try and keep his mind off the fact that he “really wanted to go to the ferry right now”, but The Engineer managed to get some nice shots of things we didn’t even realise were there. So when you go to Venice make sure you look up as well as into shops. (This is even better advice when in Prague, where some of the loveliest paintings and embellishments are right under the eaves).

Venice must have a wheelchair-friendly route around it, as some little staircases had locked stairlifts on them. I imagine one has to go to the Tourist Office to get a key. However we managed without – this sort of thing being what we bought the lightweight pushchair for in the first place – and eventually made it to the Bridge. It was quite crowded so we admired it from a distance and then got in the queue for a Vaporetto back to the car park. This one took us through the centre of town, along the Grand Canal. I don’t remember doing that last time, but it’s definitely a lovely route.

I want to write about boarding the car ferry – I realise that sounds utterly boring, but if you have never boarded a Greek ferry at an Italian port, you are missing out! Anyway I’m out of time, so that will be for my next post.


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