Venice – Day 1

As usual, I had big plans of going completely prepared to Venice. This time, in my defence, I did read up, I did plan well.

I even had all our stuff packed in time. Husband arrived at 10 in the night from Glasgow, and everything was in place. Eat, sleep, wake up and fly was all we needed to do. Despite all the hoping and wishing, the weather forecast did forecast showers and thunderstorms. The weather here was not great either. It ensured that we got wet in the short walk from the taxi to the airport terminal.

After a long, long queue for the security checkin( we always seem to be in queues at airports), we managed to reach the gates, just in time for boarding. Flying a low cost airline  has in it’s disadvantages, the fact that no meals are served in flight. So, me being, super-planner for a change, had brought along lovely buttery croissants from Waitrose. Why worry about butter and fat, when on holiday, eh?

So we took off, even the cramped seating couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm. Daughter insisted on reading the in-flight magazine end to end, while I tried to grab a nap.

And now the time for the mandatory, in the air pics. No matter how much I travel, I can’t stop behaving like a woman on her first flight :(

If you look very closely, you’d see a green lake nestled between the mountains.

And finally after two hours in the air, we landed in Venice. It looked clear, and gorgeous! Daughter always complained that she never gets to see the blue sky in England, well, she certainly couldn’t complain here. Clear, gorgeous blue sky! Thunderstorms, rain showers seemed a lifetime away. Of course, none of this meant anything because the weather changes in Venice in minutes, guidebooks told us.

At the airport, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to take a printout of the map of where the hotel was. We went to an information desk, where we were told to take the water bus(vaporetto – doesn’t it sound wonderful? Everything sounds wonderful in an Italian accent, me thinks :)) get off at Fondamenta Nouve and then walk 10 mins to the hotel. Sounded easy enough. Couldn’t be more difficult than our trek in Greece, could it?

We were told the direction to follow to reach the water bus. There was a long tunnel like passage way, and we walked for about five minutes before we reached the water bus station. We were accosted by a young man, waving pamphlets and telling us that the water taxi would take us to our hotel in 20 minutes for 110 euros. For a minute, we were confused, but then realised that most people were walking towards the next stop. On checking realized that the water bus was the public transport, while the water taxi was like the taxi we use – private, and more than double the cost of the waterbus -both ways. So we decided to take a chance with the water bus. Most people seemed to make the same choice, which reassured us  and had us worried. After all, it’s called a bus! What if we have to stand all the way to Venice? Thankfully, we did not.

A water bus getting loaded with it’s passengers.

Finally after about 30 minutes, and some whining by daughter about how hot it was(she did not sleep on the flight, and was tired, sleepy and hungry by then), we reached our destination. Getting off, we checked at a trattoria, the directions to our hotel. The fragrance of food, made me long to just sit there and eat! We went the direction he told us to, only to get a confused and asked someone else. He directed us in another direction, and we went off again, in search of our hotel. Now, just to give you an idea, this is what that area looked like.

Now, Venice is a lot of islands(118, to be precise), connected by bridges. So each time you cross a bridge, you are crossing over to the next island. In search of our hotel, we ended up crossing about 10 bridges, until we finally found it. In reality, it was just 2 bridges away – 5 mins walk, at max, but we had to get lost! I read in some guides that the best way to see Venice is to get lost in Venice. Well, we started off doing that :)

I have to say, the happiness at reaching your destination is amplified when you have to go to such lengths to reach it. Husband had to haul our big suitcase over all those bridges. And all of us were very, very hungry. The hotel room was a huge relief. Although we had checked out the reviews in Expedia and Tripadvisor, we were not expecting very spacious rooms, because almost everybody mentioned how rooms are small in Venice. Ours was a  welcome change – nice, spacious, and such lovely staff! We checked in, and then ran out to grab some food.

There was this nice main street that we had passed, while searching for our hotel, and we went back there. We had the most delicious ravioli, and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. We practically inhaled it – hungry as we were. All we wanted after that was a nice nap. Bliss!

A nap was just what we needed. The hotel had a complimentary tea spread from 2pm onwards, and we did full justice to it. Well, not full, but we had the best coffee I have had in recent times. The spread of cakes, pastries and biscuits made us wish we had the space for it all :) Never mind, we had 2 more days to try out everything on the buffet.

So off we went. To get lost again, but this time it was much more fun.

A Campo(square). Apparently, we went at a time when the mad rush of tourists hadn’t quite started.

The first sighting of the Grand Canal from under the Rialto Bridge.

Someone walking up the bridge for a better view.

And the view from up there…

And we meander through bridges, and squares and little lanes… watch gondoliers parked, waiting for their customers…

.. to finally reach San Marco, and the Campanile, from where we took these pics. We went up the Campanile, and had the most wonderful view of Venice.

Basilica San Marco, doesn’t it look gorgeous?

The Grand Canal adjacent to San Marco. Gondoloas, anybody?

The famous Bridge of Sighs! Yes, we did kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in a gondola :)

By then, our tummies were rumbling again. Walking is tough work, so is taking pictures of every single thing. We take way too many pictures! I’m having such a tough time selecting pictures. We got lost again, in search of food this time.

I can’t help wondering if these are houses, and who gets to live in them! Must be such a romantic existence!

Isn’t Venice gorgeous at night? I could live there forever! And eat in all those lovely trattorias every single day!

Food time again, delicious risotto and pizza this time. No pictures, because husband did not take pictures! He’s got us eating it, and no pictures of the actual food! Time to get back in bed, but not before we tasted some of the delicious chocolate mousse cake that was still waiting for us back at the hotel. Husband stuck to gelattos. He loves gelatto. Last time we were in Italy, he practically lived on gelatto, and he did not want to make an exception this time :)

The first day went off so well, with no sign of thunderstorms and rain showers – we couldn’t believe our luck! Needless to say with all the walking we did, we fell asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows!

(to be continued..)

Holiday Tales – Part 4 The Streets of Athens

Our trips always used to be meticulously planned – by me. Husband couldn’t care less. We visited cities like Paris and Rome before Poohi was born, and it was a different type of schedule.

Armed with a map, and guide books, we would get on the local transportation, walk through little alleys, following our instincts, and sometimes other tourists, or sometimes just the road. We would reach cute localities, or little alley ways where we would actually get lost. But it used to be so much fun! Both of us were in agreement that we could not go with guided tours, because we love doing our own thing.

It had been a while since we last did a European city. The last was Switzerland, when daughter had just turned two, and it was not exactly city sightseeing, and she was happy to be in her buggy, so we were free to go wherever we wanted to, to some extent, at least.

I was in two minds if Athens was a good idea or not. I did not want her getting bored with all the archeological stuff, but as I mentioned here, she loved it! The other part that I was worried about how much she would enjoy the aimless walking through the city, that both of us loved so much.

Well, all I can say is, she sure is a daughter of ours :) She had just as much fun as we had on the streets of Athens. Even on the first day, on that torturous trek to the hotel, she was in her element. She was cheerful, delighted by all the cats and kittens that she saw on the road, pointing out whatever caught her eye. That just meant that we had the kind of holiday that we all love!

We ended up in a place called Plaka, where the souvenir shops enthralled me. I love these shops, there is something about souvenir shops that I love :)

That’s me making a beeline to those gorgeous pots!

Look how pretty they are? They have events from Greek mythology painted on them. I could not afford to buy them, so brought back pictures instead :)

Daughter, proving that she has indeed, inherited my genes :)

Daughter did get a little tired. So we got on one of these.

Tourist transportation of a different kind..

One of the domed churches of Athens

All roads lead to the Acropolis. See the Acropolis shining up on the hill ahead?

More ruins, much to daughter’s delight :) We came back here in the daylight to see it properly.

Isn’t this cute?

The streets of Athens is full of cats..

of all kinds :)

Trees flanking roads, full of oranges!

Aren’t these the cutest? We stumbled across a market place, which had the cutest of things! Most were handmade and so very creative.

Remember those balconies full of greenery that I was so enthused about?

And as I said earlier, all roads lead to the Acropolis.. There it is , all lit up at night..

Two days of Athens, and we were looking forward to Santorini. We were all excited, and waiting to get to the island. Little did we know that a ghost town awaited us…..
to be continued…