2006-01-05: Venice

The canals of Venice

We had an early start, waking to pitch blackness. After I squatted in the shower, which lacked a shower holder above 1 metre and any shower curtain, we had breakfast. My hunger hadn't really returned and breakfast wasn't enough to convince me to eat well. Edyta discovered that standard tea is lemon tea but we were offered a tea bag for a good old English Breakfast. We took the bus back into Venice. Edyta was freaking out because as I was making jokes about not validating or having a ticket she was looking at a man sitting next to me wearing a bus company uniform. It was only a bus driver but she made sure we bought tickets when we got to the islands.

This many crossed bridge

Our first trip was on a water bus to explore the Grand Canal. We travelled along the waterways and reached a stop where everyone was ushered off. We weren't sure what was happening as we were heading to Saint Marks but we were told it was the last stop and to get off. The stop was by the main pedestrian bridge across the canal. We wandered the area for a little bit before discovering a water taxi heading to Saint Marks. We expected this to continue on the journey we were just on, but then discovered the taxi heading in the opposite direction, back under the bridge and towards our first stop. It left the canal of old, once graceful buildings and entered into an area that would make any warfie from Port Adelaide homesick. After a journey around a river where we were surprised to see modern high rise apartments we made it to the Saint Marks stop.

Saint Marks

Saint Marks is a Catholic church built from gold. Literally. There were gold tile decorations all over the church, even on the outside. Entry was free provided you left your backpack in an alcove around the corner. However once inside you then had to pay to proceed to any other area with extra treasures. We were happy enough with walking around in the free areas and admiring the vast collection of Apostles on the ceiling. We then headed into the narrow streets and canals of the city. The water is murky but mostly clean of rubbish (I guess the tides help clean this up), while the buildings are derelict. Europe is a fine country for showing what happens to historical grandeur in a few hundred years time. The buildings showed once brilliant arches, once bright and vibrant paint and now graffiti and plaster faded and falling from the walks. The romance of Venice is largely in the stories of the place.

Still the place is worth a days visit. We had crossed the main bridge again and stopped to eat at one of the Self-Service places (which is just a canteen line with a cheaper cover charge). Having only been in souvenir stores we decided to find a church. We had to wandered a bit before I got my bearings, had to cross the bridge again and head off. We stopped at some churches, avoiding the ones that charge for entry (including one were you could stand and see everything while they were asking you for money). We found a display of clay models, intricate for the material (especially the very tiny one and the one with the well hung baby Jesus). There were more statues of this KKK cult that is prevelant over mainland Europe. We've seen figures dressed like them in French stores, in Spanish stores and now in Italian stores. We suspect they may be Masons or some other cult of Christianity, not the KKK proper, but the dress code is the same. One of the stores we passed had military models and games on display so I went in to discover a huge collection of Warhammer goods, as well as Anime, some old role-play and even FASA books. I got my first Italian Warhammer store photo, though I was disappointed they didn't have the official Games Workshop stockists sticker on display, or even a store name. We went into one church were ornate marble was decorated to look like curtains and did a really good job, however real curtains may have been cheaper to build and maintain.

Carnivale delight

Large canals too

and small and old

We managed to reach the church and hospital I had aimed for. We wandered around more area, passing some of the residences where people hang their washing over the streets. Edyta managed to collect pigeon and dog crap on her boot during the day. On the topic of crap we had McDonalds for tea, having been nibbling on cakes since lunch (and my hunger not returning yet). We walked past a closing market which reeked of fish, and where a pigon happily climbed over several food items before deciding to peck at a grape. It didn't like the grape so jumped of the table. The store vendor didn't look plussed by the event at all.

A store with Games Workshop stuff

All day we had failed to find a proper cafe for Edyta. She has wanted to see people sitting outside a cafe, sipping their latte and having bits of cake. Instead the Italians stand at a bar and buy sweet biscuits, more like the Spanish and their tapas than anything you'd find on Rundle Street. It seems the cafe culture is an Australian invention.

The light was failing and we still had one more morning in Venice (though I dread it as all our luggage will be on my shoulders) so we returned for the night. Our return journey was hindered only by us not wanting to cross the Grand Canal by the same footbridge again, luckily we found our way to the other bridge by the train station and crossed over. This time on the bus trip home Edyta was happy as we had a validated ticket on us.