Friday, August 22, 2014

Venice, 08-12-14

A stern word of caution…please write this down: do not visit Venice in August. The crowds are impossible, the heat is stifling, and there is little shade in or around St. Mark’s Square or along the canal adjacent to it…they apparently do not want to block the views.

Having had little sleep and suffering jet-lag most of Monday, Monday night was, alas, miserable. I alternated between freezing and roasting, had an upset stomach, and got up 8-10 times during the night to go to the bathroom.

So Tuesday did not start off on the best of footings, my jet-lag now coupled with lack of even more sleep. And the day got off to an even better start when my camera died. Just died. It was only two years old, but it had had a lot of use. So Gary loaned me his until I could get a new one in St. Mark’s Square. (Later that day, my wireless mouse also died, forcing me to use the “finger pad” feature, which I hate, but am stuck with until I can find another wireless mouse.)

The tour from the ship was from 8:30 to 12, and we were transported by boat the 20 minutes or so to “four bridges from St. Mark’s Square.” We began with a walk through some of the quieter neighborhoods, the guide providing interesting guide-type information on the history of the city, how the buildings are constructed over what was historically a huge marsh (wooden pilings driven into the marsh which, because the water at the marsh bottom has no aeration, do not rot out. 

The closer we got to St. Mark’s Square, the more crowded the narrow streets became until we emerged onto the Square itself and the mobs of tourists. There was a huge line to get into the Basilica but, as part of a tour group, we got in via a separate entrance. We walked on raised platforms since the Square and the buildings surrounding it are given to flooding in the spring and fall. I guess they just leave the platforms up year-round. 

By this time, nearing noon, it was downright hot, and I felt like one of the characters in a zombie movie.

We had the choice of returning to the ship at 12:30, or taking the next return shuttle at 3:30, and to give Gary a chance to see more of the city, we opted for the latter. I’d hoped we might ascend to the top of St. Mark’s bell tower, as I’d done my last trip, but there was an endless line waiting, and we decided against it, instead setting off with no particular destination in mind, just roaming around the city. The heat was really getting to me, and we looked in vain for somewhere to sit down and have a cup of coffee. (Benches and places to just sit are extremely rare in Venice, I soon discovered. We finally found a small piazza with a tented restaurant where we could and did sit. I had a tonic water while Gary had a sizable lunch.

We then headed out to find the Ponte Rialto, the main bridge over the Grand Canal and took a vaporatto from there back to St. Mark’s Square. We were about an hour early, but decided to get closer to the boat landing, so we walked along the waterfront over the “four bridges” our guide had pointed out to us. 

Again, the heat was really getting to me, so we found a spot in an area shaded by a building and…with no seating available anywhere…I just sat down on the ground, leaning against the building. We then moved closer to the boat landing for our shuttle, crossing each of the four bridges and, arriving at the landing area with no seating and no shade, sought refuge in a the shade of a narrow alley, which was lined solidly on both sides by standing tourists also seeking shelter from the sun. Gradually moving to the alley’s entrance we found there was a Venturi effect creating a slight breeze.
Returning, finally, the ship, I walked into our cabin, laid down, and slept for two hours…the longest “nap” I can recall having taken.

A note: Internet service is only available while we are in port or near land, and even then it is spotty at best, and excruciatingly slow compared with the service at home. Trying to download the 50+ photos taken each day to post them to the net, plus the time then needed to go through and captioning each of them is a long, long process, and I’ve not yet determined how to handle it for now, or if I should even try, perhaps waiting to post them until I get home? We shall see.

Stay tuned.

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