Aug 05

The Check-In/Check Out Diaries: Venice (part I)

by in Destinations

VENICE (part I of II)

There are people who take the train and then there are just plain annoying “train people”.  On our way to Venice from Florence I go to the bar car where a lot of people are lined up waiting for food.  A fairly large, middle aged woman (presumably from Minnesota) is holding up the line trying to find the Italian word for Mayonnaise because she doesn’t understand that a ham and cheese in Italy doesn’t come with condiments.  Everyone in the car is yelling, finally she leaves.  She gets back to her seat and hands her husband the sandwich.  He asks for the Mayo and she explains that she didn’t get any.  The husband is visibly disappointed, the wife defeated.  Train people.   

One step out of the train station and you are bombarded by first the amount of tourists, and second, the beauty.  Yes, the canals of Venice are really that amazing.  Who would have known?  The first question I was hit with (while staring at a bridge that goes over the Grand Canal) was how are we going to get to our hotel with our 130lb of luggage?  There is no way I was going to spend the next couple hours trying to navigate Venice after failing in both Rome and Florence.  Luckily we found a water taxi and he took us to our front (or is it back door) of our hotel, San Cassiano, located on the Grand Canal.

The San Cassiano did us well, hooking us up with a Grand Canal view suite complete with sitting area, day bed, and chandelier.  After a few moments taking it all in from our windows above the water we headed out, toward the Rialto Bridge.  I don’t believe I have ever traveled 100 feet and been lost.  I felt lost around every corner in Venice it was impressive to say the least.  Armed with 4 maps and an iPhone with GPS was no help.  Eventually we found enough signs pointing to The Rialto to get us to the bridge.  Souvenirs, tourists, gelato, tourists, more gelato, and even more tourists sums up this bridge over the Grand Canal, lined with restaurants, shopping, and gondola guys wanting to take you out for a spin through the canals.  Cross the bridge and in no time you will find yourself headed to San Marco Piazza, the center of Venice with restaurants, drinking, live music, and many pigeons waiting to be fed and fly up into your arms and onto your shoulders.  We drink Prosecco and listen to music than walk around and find Harry’s bar, the creator of the Bellini, but I am not allowed in because I am wearing shorts so we have a Spritz at a bar that contains awful tasting liquor named Aperol and then we are back near the Rialto where we have another sub-par dinner of pasta and pizza.

Venice doesn’t have that one thing.  There is no Coliseum, no David, no leaning tower.  The city itself, the canals and narrow streets is the thing.  Walking and getting lost (every couple steps) and looking down each street it feels like an adventure waits.  The adventure isn’t necessarily spooky, in fact, often it’s just a small gelato stand.  Take the adventure.  We walk and get lost, very lost this time.  Walking through streets that we don’t know if we’ve seen before and circling around is more the norm than the exception here.  If you are lucky enough to have a clear day with only a few white clouds in the air, it looks like the Las Vegas Venetian, that is to say it looks so perfect, it looks fake.

David S. Grant is the author of several books.  His latest, The Italia Diary: A Travel Narrative with Inspired Fiction will be available shortly.  For more information go to  Follow David on Twitter @david_s_grant

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