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Published: September 1st 2013
The ferry trip across the Adriatic from Split to Ancona was smooth and comfortable. Lyn and I ended up in a VIP cabin somehow which was spacious and on the top deck. We arrived in Ancona, a port city, on time just before 0800, disembarked then had 4 hours to kill before our train to Venice. So we ambled through some dingy looking streets aiming for food. It was hard to come by in the area we were in but eventually breakfast was down the hatch, a continental type with custard filled pastries, bread rolls and coffee.
The train to Venice was a reasonably high speed thing - top speed 190ks but not the fastest going round. Comfortable, smooth, quiet. It zipped along through much a greener landscape than we've been used to as it headed north. We passed through Rimini, Bologna, Ferrara, Padova; it certainly felt Italian. 4 hours later we pulled into Santa Lucia Ferrovia (station), which, now I think about it probably means something like "iron way"or "iron road" maybe. Hauling our bags through the station we emerged onto the entrance concourse and there in front of us was VENICE!
It was another "more awesome than
From Hotel Firenze window
I had expected" moment. The Grand Canal was awash in front of us with a water traffic jam and on the other side were the buildings which appeared to be floating on the water. Why anyone would choose to build a city on sandbanks in the middle of the sea......? Like millions of others I'm now so glad they did. Anyway, onto a water bus (Vaporetto) and a 40 minute ride along the Grand Canal to San Marco get-off point. The water bus was packed - they all appeared to be.
Our hotel, the Firenze Hotel, was a gem. We found it reasonably easily in amongst the narrow alleys down an even narrower alley into a charming entrance, an even more charming young concierge whose good looks and Italian accent Lyn and Heather immediately succumbed to, and an even, even more chic and cute apartment overlooking the street with atmosphere that reeked of Venetian design. We were quite happy thank you.
And so, out into the Venetian crowds of tourists from all round the world. Cameras popping off shots like there's no tomorrow. Not hard to see why. EVERYWHERE one looks is a picture postcard. I suggest the
Lonely Planet description of the city does it well so I'm going to leave it to them. What we did was walk the alleys, across the canal bridges, into byways and nooks and crannies, alongside canals, into shops and trattorias, all the while with mouths agape and cameras clicking. The crowds were big but manageable and everyone was in the same state of mind we were - that we were in one of the living wonders of the world, so just enjoy. Having said that, it would be more pleasant to be there outside the peak tourist time unlike us.
The Venice Bienalle was still running and for Gavin and Heather this was to be a highlight and a reason for being here. Lyn and I joined them and we bought tickets for the main exhibition centre but also looked at a number of countries exhibits for free in various buildings scattered around the city.
Our first stop was the NZ exhibition. One, Bill Culbert, was the NZ artist chosen for this Bienalle. His work was based on lighted fluorescent tubes used in unusual settings and arranged to represent -what, I don't know but it was visually quite
La Scala Trattoria
Dinner, first night.
something and certainly the equal of other countries offerings. The highlight for Lyn was standing, looking at one of his exhibits when the young woman in charge of the exhibit said to her, "I think I know you. Mrs House?" Turned out she was an ex student of Hutt Valley High School who Lyn had taught. Not only that but Bill Culbert was also an ex student of Hutt Valley High School. How about that! There was a large glossy book open on a table about Culbert's life with a big section on how HVHS had shaped his artistic career. We felt very proud of the association.
Venice part 2 next.
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