Published: November 24th 2011November 23rd 2011
The words of Carol Kings song come to mind as we kept hearing “Volcano, eruption ash cloud, Britain closed but were not able to get much information on the situation back home. There wasn’t much on the local TV and we had to rely on the 24 hour continuous newsloop of News 24. Computers seemed to be down and we could not get any connection to the train service network nor did we have internet on our mobile phones. Messages flew back and to between a friend in England who checked the news and relayed this back to us. We tried unsuccessfully to ring the airport – why is it that they give you a number to ring but when you try it you are on hold for what seems like hours and become ever more frustrated. We worked out we couldn’t get home and that unless there was a miracle we would need to find an alternative method of travelling overland back to Wales. Now if we had a motorhome ……………the seeds were being set.
The tourist office was next door to our hotel so we queued up after breakfast with other frustrated tourists listening to tales of not
being able to contact airlines, being unable to hire a car as none were available and extortionate costs for hiring if you find one. In our heads we worked out our overland journey -…..Venice to Milan (the easy bit), Milan to Paris (probably going to be harder as so many others were trying to go home and all routes converge on Paris. After that who knows, hotel in Paris perhaps or train to Lille . We gave up after Paris . Upon getting to the counter we tried to buy the Paris connection ticket and were told none were available. It seemed as if all of Europe had bought tickets for the train and had the same idea as we had. However whether it was divine inspiration or just sheer luck after 20 mins two tickets became available . Not together but at least on the same train and in the same carriage. Desperation made us buy them £332.00 for two tickets in 1st class. The next part of the journey connecting us from Venice to Milan was easy £33 for two 1st
class tickets. After that who cared. The holiday had to go on and today was churches day.
San Giorgio Maggiore, Palladios prominent stucco landmark church. Santa MariaFormosa and finally Santi Giovani a Paolo or San Zanipoli in the Venetain dialect. Lunch at a small restaurant tucked away off St Marks Square , spaghetti, basil, tomato and cheese – how can something so simple taste so delicious. Perhaps it’s the ambience or the sun – I just don’t know.
In the afternoon we visited La Fenice , the building dominating its square. It’s the oldest and largest of all of Venices theatres holding 900 guests. It rose like a phoenix from the ashes of two fires one in 1774 and the other as recent as 1996. We were ushered around by an over efficient and over zealous guide who pointed out with German efficiency that we only had an hour to get round the building. Fine we said and hurried away from her. One interesting fact that surprised us was that the chandeliers were not made locally but were brought in from Liverpool. I never did quite work that one out.
Evening was spent at the Lido which left us with a strange feeling mainly because we had spent a week away from beaches,
pavements, cars and buses. The noise of traffic felt strangely out of place and stepping out into road was fraught with all the usual dangers associated with Italian driving. With more time we might have gone over to see the Jewish Cemetery but in the end night fell and we sailed back on the vaporetta to St Marks Square watching the lights twinkle on the water and the shop lights shine. A few hours left to walk up to the RialtoBridge and market area and to look at the wonderful shops full of interesting things . Panforte bought ready to take home- our treat to ourselves . Tomorrow our last day and the islands beckoned.