Touristing at the Doge’s Gaff

Day 22 – 21st July 2020 – Venice, Italy

I am really looking forward to my stay here in Venice.  My plan today is to go for a walk… I will be heading for Piazza San Marco of course and the Ponte Di Rialto, but want to take my time getting there.  I have already booked this afternoon for the lagoon tour so am just having a general look around this morning.  I am using Google maps to route myself and I notice lots of other people doing the same… I don’t know how we don’t all walk into one another.

Venice is quite the experience, I love all the quirky streets and myriad little bridges crossing the waterways.

There are boats everywhere of course, but imagine my surprise when I see this;

 

But of course it makes perfect sense, how else would you do works without roads??

On the way I notice lots of Gondolas parked up and Gondoliers in the distinctive black and white striped tops, (some have red and white, apparently it’s down to personal preference), some complete with straw boater.

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They don’t seem very busy and am accosted by a Gondolier who offers to take me for €50 instead of the usual €80, but I saw on Trip Advisor a ride for €40 so will book that for tomorrow.  At one place where there are several gondolas parked up a group of Gondoliers are being serenaded by an old ‘queen’ decked out in her finest earrings, the Gondoliers are cheering him on and some are filming him on their phones, they clap enthusiastically at the end of each song or maybe verse… I am so impressed by this and think it is very sweet.

Here he is… very brave in my book

On my walk I take loads of photos, of course:

I then arrive at the Ponte di Rialto

and decide to stop for a coffee.  I pop into the first restaurant I see and the coffee comes with the bill…. HOW MUCH!! €6.50 plus the city tax so €7.30 in total… that’s like £6.75 and it’s a small coffee… blooming hell talk about rip off.  I might have realised that I am at one of THE tourist attractions in Venice so hence the price hike, but seriously that is bad.

Other than that I am having a great time, the weather is fantastic, hot!  I’m so glad I brought my sun hat and lots of sun cream… which reminds me, I checked on Google and Venice has lots of mozzies, of course being on water it would, but they have a particularly vicious little bugger.. here is a quote from one of the websites:

“In the Venetian lagoon, the season of mosquitoes is quite long. It starts at the beginning of April and lasts till September or so. To make things worse, a new species that is more aggressive has appeared and it is called among people as Asian Tiger Mosquito. These insects are smaller than their native European cousins, more aggressive and almost silent, making them an incredible menace for unwary tourists.”

So I also slap on loads of mozzie repellent as I already have several bites from Croatia.

Anyway, I am really enjoying being off the bike and having some exercise.  The little streets and waterways are fascinating to me, I love the old architecture and the higgledy piggledy layout.

 

There are hundreds of tourist shops of course, but some of the big names in retail also have a presence; it is much more scaled down in terms of their footprint so not so noticeable.

I turn a corner and suddenly I am in the Piazza San Marco, it is truly fabulous.

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The Doges Palace,

The Basilica Di San Marco,

 

The Torre dell’Orologio

and the famous bell tower

 

 

I am really hot and sweaty now so buy a bottle of water and look for some shade.  I am curious to see how much a cup of coffee is here, the centre of the Venetian tourist traps… I see a beautiful old tea rooms, they are so fantastic, what a wonderful place to spend an hour relaxing and gazing out into the square…

A coffee here… €10.50 plus tax… I mean, stop it!   That is more than the cost of a full tank of petrol so I’m afraid, as much as I love the little tea rooms, I am not paying that.

Another surprise in the square is the gondolier serenader… it seems he has his own stall right here in the square

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or maybe he’s just have a sit down after all that singing.

Indeed I need a sit and a cool down for a while myself then I walk back into the labyrinth of streets and alleyways to find something to eat…. I get a slice of pizza of course and very good it is too.

Now it is almost time for the trip to the 3 islands, Murano where they make the famous Venetian glass; Torcello the sinking island I believe and Burano, which I think is about lace… I expect to find out all about them on the tour.  There are two pick up points, one at KFC, (I mean they really do have a KFC), which is up by my bike at the railway station, or just down the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco so I head there.

I can’t seem to find any information or signage to say where to get the boat.  I check on google maps and it looks like a little bit further down so I carry on walking.  There don’t seem to be any obvious boat parking points, apart from Gondolas so I decide to phone the tour company.   The woman on the phone asks me where I am… erm… ‘oh I’m outside the Hotel Gabrielle,’.. ok you go to where it says A1 and you wait there, I will send an assistant to pick you up.’ ‘OK, where is A1?’ ‘You keep walking and you will see it’  ‘Ok Grazie Mille’.

I walk a bit further and I can see the pontoon where the public transport boats stop.. I can see 1A there so this must be it.  I sit down to wait.

I am opposite this building… I like the look of it, no idea what it is though

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About 10 minutes later a boat goes past and I can see the name of the tour company on the side.. it carries on going and then pulls in to the side quite a way past here, I think maybe I’m in the wrong place… I call the woman again; ‘Hi, I’ve just seen a boat with your company name and it is stopped outside what I think is the theatre, shall I go there?’ ‘No.. you wait I will send an assistant’ ‘Ok, can I just check I am in the right place… I am at the boat stop 1A is that right’ ‘Yes, you stay there… ok’ ‘Oh, Ok Grazie’.  The tour is supposed to pick up at 12.30, at 12.40 I see the boat leaving and nothing or no one has turned up here yet.  I wait another 5 minutes and call the woman again. ‘Hi. it’s me again, the lady waiting at 1A, no one has come for me and your boat has gone, what is happening please’ ‘No, the boat is gone, it has picked up 21 passengers and gone, the assistant did not find you’ ‘I am here where I said the last time I called, no one has come for me’ ‘Where are you’ ‘I am at the boat stop 1A’ ‘No, no it is A1 where you must go, now the boat has gone’ ‘Oh no, so what happens now?’ ‘Ok can you do tomorrow, we have a tour at 12 for 6 hours, this is longer than today 4 hours, but you can go on that one if you want’ ‘Ok, I guess so.. shall I use the same ticket as today?’ ‘Yes, of course you use the same ticket no problem’ ‘Ok I will go to the pick up at KFC tomorrow so I won’t miss it’ ‘Yes, that is fine, please arrive 10 minutes before’ ‘Ok will do, thank you’.

Well, that was a waste of an hour, but never mind… there was obviously some miss communication going on, but I am happy to do the tour tomorrow, that’s fine.  I think I will make my way back to my room as I am really over-heating and need to cool down.

I can check on Trip Advisor to see if I can get a Gondola ride later today or early tomorrow morning.  I decide to just head back from here by following my nose for a while to see what I can discover.. the first thing is the navy base, I think, quite different from the things I have seen so far:

I thought this lion looked particularly fed up… almost as if he’s saying, ‘huh! not another bloody tourist’!

I wander around some more and am getting quite tired so decide to get a boat back to San Stae and go to the B&B.

I really enjoy the trip up the Grand Canal… it’s very busy

 

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When I get back I have a look on Trip Advisor and there are no Gondola rides until Friday… bah!  I am leaving on Thursday… I try some other sites, but the only ones I can find available today or tomorrow morning are one for £135 and the other is a minimum 2 people so looks like I’m stuffed.  I toy with the idea of finding the Gondolier who offered me a ride for €50, but ultimately this is still too expensive so I decide to be Gondola-less.

Quick shower then a wander to find something to eat.  I come across a square with this charming church..

I mean, chuck a stick in any direction here and you will hit a church.  I have a look at the menu of the first restaurant I see and decide to stop here… I’m afraid it’s pizza again.. I’m going to start looking like one soon.  I also enjoy a nice cold small beer too, something I haven’t had for a very long time… it is lovely.

I notice my foot is really itching… of course I have washed all the mozzie repellent off, but I have long trousers on and flip flops so the little buggers are having a nibble on my foot.  I finish quickly and take half of the pizza away with me for tomorrow, I must get back and put some cream on my foot.

As I am going up to the rail station tomorrow to get the boat for the tour I am going to go up to the bike, just to make sure she is ok…. well, still there!!

 

 

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