melted in the sun, fought the crowds and high tide.
09.09.2014 - 09.09.2014 32 °C
We had a full day ahead of us. We were taking a 2 hour train trip to Venice, to do a tour, and return.
We made our lunch, and we were out the door by just before 9.00, and walked to the station, and boarded the train to Venice. We arrived in Venice around 11.30. We joined the throngs of people walking from the train station to St Mark’s square.
Talk about a labyrinth street system. Narrow, no apparent pattern and seething with people. We went through narrow streets lined with very high class looking shops. Anytime someone stopped to window shop, everyone else behind them had to stop as well.
The first major land mark was the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal. Steep steps lined with shops, and street souvenir sellers. To say it is crowded would be an understatement.
We carried on, towards St Mark’s. Thankfully the way is arrowed, because if we had to rely on the map, we would still be there. The other method of navigation would be to follow the crowd.
Finally we arrived in St Marks Square, where we found global warming was taking its toll. Two thirds of the square was flooded. For those who are global warming sceptics, then we shall simply blame a spring high tide on a full moon. Take your pick. I will go for the full moon version. Apparently, this was a minor full moon flood.
Our next job was to find a dry place to sit down, in the shade to have our lunch. We sat on the steps long enough to almost finish our lunch, before the “step sitting” police did their rounds and moved us and everyone else on. We then noticed signs everywhere in Italian and English, saying it is prohibited to sit on the steps. We moved slowly on as we munched down the last of our lunch.
We wandered ‘round to the Doges Palace on the Lagoon water front. Man it was hot. Even the boy from Poolburn was starting to melt. We wandered along the water front, over 3 - 4 bridges, looking at the street wares.
Finally it was time to meet our guide for our 3 hour tour. The first hour was taken up with a water taxi ride through the side canals. The tide had started receding, which meant the water was low enough to go under the bridges. The taxi was a grand looking boat. Inside the boat was like a glass house, but outside with a bit of movement was quite pleasant. The guide talked nonstop about Venetian life. No cars. Everything delivered by boat. She pointed out the police boats, the water ambulances, and we had already seen a DHL Courier boat.
Venice is made up of 118 islands, and nearly 400 bridges. It was originally settled mainly by fugitives who were escaping mainland wars. As Europe continued its consistent “middle ages” wars, the Venetians set about building trade with the East. Silks, spices, gold etc. The merchants became rich and powerful.
Anyway we went through the middle of Venice, from the Lagoon to the other side. She pointed out nearby islands, including an island which is the Venetian cemetery. We then entered the Grand Canal, where she spoke of some of the historic families and pointed out their Palaces.
We ended up where we started, and we spent the next hour looking at the Doge’s Palace whilst learning about the historic system of government. For 1,000 years they maintained a very inclusive style of Government. Each year a new council was elected from the Merchants. Their role was to govern for the betterment of Venice. They were not paid, and they lived in the Doge’s palace away from any interference. At the end of the year, they returned to their families and their business’s.
Meanwhile a figurehead for life was elected. The Doge. He had no power, and would enforce the Council’s law. On his death, a new Family was elected to be the Doge. This way no one assumed power over their fellow Venetians. Making money from trading was more important than power. I’m sure there was still corruption. After all, they were humans.
Then we went inside St Mark’s Basilica. Another beautiful church, decorated by glass and gold mosaics. The church was paid for by the merchants. They didn’t mind flashing off their wealth for effect. But where the effect was minimal, away from the commonly seen parts, it was just brick!
Mackenzie’s shorts were a bit too short, so we had to buy a fashionable shawl to cover her up.
One of the astonishing things we saw, was the 4 horses. As part of the Crusade, the Venetians built the boats. But when payment was forthcoming, they claimed a lot of the plundered treasure. These horses date to at least 500 years BC.
The final hour was taken up with our guide wandering around the back streets, observing and further explaining Venetian life.
Finally, the tour was over, and we found our way back to the train station, just in time to get the 6.30 train back to Florence. We had a substandard meal at a restaurant beside our apartment, then went home and crashed into bed.
Venice was neat. So different and interesting, with a good guide, but boy it was hot. Global warming maybe?