Venice is extraordinary. Unique. Magical. And packed with people. We had hoped that we would be past the busiest tourist season but there are times along the Grand Canal when you have to slowly push your way through the crowd just to cross a bridge. Even harder when two tour groups both decide to stop in the same place.
A friend of mine asked me to describe that first moment exiting the train station out onto the Grand Canal. When we were on the train, Sweetie started to laugh and showed me a passage in the book he’s now reading: Dan Brown’s Inferno.
“Because the station is located at the westernmost end of the Grand Canal, passengers arriving in Venice need take only a single step out of the station to find themselves fully immersed in the distinctive sights, smells and sounds of Venice.”
It’s a world unlike anything I’ve seen. So vibrant, people everywhere, many looking as confused as we were. Our hotel had said keep left when you come out of the station and walk toward the water taxis. Look for number eight. Snort. After dragging our suitcases back and forth a couple of times, I suggested to Sweetie that he stay put while I located the taxi. Eventually, using my little bits of Italian, waving my arms in true Italian style, I found someone who pointed us in the right direction. Left as it turned out.
What made it so challenging was that are boats everywhere. Taxis, gondolas, the vaporetto or water bus. Once settled in to our taxi, the ride was wonderful. We soaked it in, sometimes literally as we bounced over the occasional wake. Speeding along the Grand Canal, Sweetie and I stood for most of the trip, our hair blowing madly, hanging on to the boat with one hand trying to stay upright and waving cameras about with the other, hoping we were actually getting pictures. The little canals, the architecture, the pockets of serenity on the water combined with beautiful enormous buildings. As it turned out, we did get several. Along with numerous pictures of our feet, arms, the inside of the boat.
We arrived at the water door to our new temporary home and settled in to the apartment. It’s charming, spacious, comfortable. Then we set out, map in hand, to find our way to a restaurant and scout the way to San Marco square for the morning. Our practice at getting lost in Rome paid off. We are now masters of the art of disorientation. The streets are narrow, winding, a maze that makes me wonder how even the locals get home at night. Still, we managed. Once back on the Canal, we walked straight into what seemed like a carnival. Tourist junk everywhere. Venetians all yelling at the tourists, trying to get them to buy said junk or into the nearest pub/restaurant/gelato place. Eventually we caved, had a lovely meal and watched the people go by. We are in Venice! And I am overwhelmed.