Our Venice Adventure–Day One

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers.  The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

Venice, with its misty veil, is as breathtaking as it is delicate. Graceful Byzantine buildings double their images in the canals and define a handsome skyline, regardless of the season. (Courtesy of HAL – Background at a Glance)


Vaporetto Stop, Venice
Vaporetto Stop, Venice
Riialto Bridge, Venice
Riialto Bridge, Venice

The description of this beautiful city described above is what we used to think about Venice, and along the Grand Canal that is definitely what one sees, but come with us as we explore the side and backstreets and canals as we share our experience, “off the beaten track”. (Day-Two)

The clerk at our hotel explained to us how to get our 36 hour “pass’” to ride the busses and Vaporetto, so we struck out and soon realized that we had turned right when we left the hotel instead of left as instructed..oops. Almost too late, we arrived at the ticket vendor, which was located in a Tobacco Shop, then we next had to find the location of the bus stop.   Soon we realized we were waiting on the wrong street. oops, again.  Even though a lot of people in foreign countries speak some English, what comes across to our brains can be confusing.  Finally we were on the “4L” speeding along on the three to four miles across the Venetian Lagoon to the “Island”.

Upon arrival we questioned an Italian “English” teacher working in a Vaporetto ticket booth and he assured us which water bus to take to the famed Rialto Bridge. (see the push-pin in the first picture above).  The little white rectangle on the side of the canal (2nd photo)was our first stop.  From here we could explore the Mercerie or main shopping thoroughfare of San Marco, which included eateries of various sizes, that ran virtually all the way to Piazza San Marco.  It was along a tourist crowded street the we purchased our first meal and  beer.  We ate our lunch on the steps of a bridge that spanned a small canal, while beneath us the Gondoliers plied their trade. Bathed in glorious sunshine we shared that space with three of the ever present pigeons of Venice. After lunch, we returned to the Rialto bridge and when you inspect the above picture, you will see what looks like two distinct bridges, however the space in the middle is sold and is jammed with shops.  This area was of intense interest to Barbara, so I took a “people watching” break.

After a brief foray into the San Polo district, I was so tired that we decided to re-board the Vaporetto for some ‘sit-down” exploration.  This time we boarded to ride in the opposite direction which took us past our starting point, past the Tronchetto (large vehicle parking lot), out into the waters of the Lagoon, past the Prinsendam, retracing the our “sail-in” clear to the far eastern reaches of the island returning to the Grand Canal by the same route.  By now, I had pretty much had enough of sitting in the open bow of the Vaporetto and facing the cold breeze.  Anyway it was dinner time and my stomach was begging to be fed and the beer I had at lunch was begging to be set free.

Since we were still exploring, we decided to leave the water bus at the Accademia Bridge. as shown below.

Accademia Bridge, Venice
Accademia Bridge, Venice

Too late, we realized that this was mistake as there are no “restaurants” in this district, just coffee and pastry bars where the locals (students?) stood outside smoking and socializing. So we walked along a small canal and by chance past by a Gondola boatyard where several had been hauled out for servicing.  My enthusiasm for lingering at this scene was overtaken by my demanding bladder and we moved on arriving at the southern entrance to the Grand Canal. Speeding to the nearest Vaporetto stop we boarded the first one available, assuming it would be heading into the city – wrong again.  We rode this craft to the opposite side of the canal and disembarked near where we were certain, could find a rest room and FOOD! Finally relief for one, but the wallet did not cherish the thought of paying an arm and a leg for a meal, even at a sidewalk café overlooking the canal.

By now we are desperate, so we once again boarded the Vaporetto, and headed in the wrong direction, as  it was headed to the outer island of Lido!  I was going through my second or third snack bar, having trouble enjoying this “fantastic” ride.  The sun had dipped below the horizon as we finally re-entered the Grand Canal. Under less stressful circumstances it would have been a very romantic “sail-through”, but for me hunger is a terrible master. We got off at our morning starting point and just made it in time to catch the bus for our trip back to the hotel.

Okay, picture if you will our dilemma;  We had caught the bus that morning during the daylight, we returning after dark, how are we going to know where to get off?  I took a chance after seeing the red warning lights atop the roof spars of our hotel,  and picked the correct stop.  Chance plays such a big part in exploring unknown communities and we were about to be grand recipients of chance. As we proceeded along the, now deserted, well lit street toward our hotel, there in front of us was a reader board along the sidewalk advertising a tasty looking “Doner Kebap” with a picture of this monster pita bread sandwich, and the shop was OPEN. Venturing in, we ordered three and watch in amazement as the chef prepared the bread from a ball of pizza dough, baked it in the pizza oven and when he took it out of the oven it was in the shape of a balloon, which he quickly sliced open, cut it into fourths, filling three with spices, freshly sliced meat, lettuce, tomatoes, yogurt sauce and presented it to us wrapped in foil ready to go. How cool was that? I added a Coke Zero to our purchase and back in the room we had our feast. What a great ending to a fantastic day.

Tired and with full tummies, we turned for the night knowing that tomorrow, we will “conquer” Venice, cause we are veterans of the Vaporetto!

Next: Our Venice – Day Two

One thought on “Our Venice Adventure–Day One

  1. What a fascinating & humorous story—then when looking at the pictures, you described it all so beautifully. I had no idea what a beautiful place Venice was. You have quite a way with words Jack—can hardly wait for Day 2 adventures!!! Connie

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