Friday 3 December 2021

Visiting a Bygone Era - The Magical Islands of Venice

After bidding adieu to Heidi land, we were soon at the security check queue to begin the next leg of our trip - Italy. After emptying our back packs to the security personnel and the kid's pram being rechecked because of the dry pine cones that he had filled into the back pouch, we were soon flying to Venice. As we were riding the bus that was taking us to the airport terminal at Venice, the little one held my hand and asked a lot of questions. 'Where are we now? How many days are we going to stay here?' and so on. We laughed thinking about what a vagabond he had blossomed into. Post his little baby days and as soon as he started taking an interest in the world around him (which took about 2.5 long yrs! Sigh ..), the kiddo took an immense liking for travel and everything about it from taxi rides and places of stay to sightseeing. Much to our good luck, thank God!

The initial 2 hours at Italy turned out to be a bit of  a struggle. Language was quite a problem, for very few seemed to understand or speak English. With the help of Google, we somehow located the bus that would take us to the bus stop nearest to our place of stay. After we alighted, we spent close to an hour trying to find our way to the apartment stay that we had booked. A slight rain added to our woes and it was already close to 10 PM. Finally we flagged down a passing taxi. The driver took one look at the location and charged a bomb. We got in, for we had no other choice and reached our destination in under 3 minutes! The driver just shrugged and mumbled about minimum charges.

Our host arrived just as we were unloading our luggage. He then told us that we could have opted for a pick up from the airport and he would have come there himself. We made a mental note for future. The apartment that we had booked for our stay was a spacious one with a big living room cum kitchen, a huge balcony, a cozy nice bed room with comfortable beds and a clean bathroom with state of the art fittings. AirBnb and Booking. com were sure giving hotels a run for their money! 

Putting the slightly bumpy start at Italy behind us, we sunk into our comfortable beds and slept it all off. Next morning, post cooking and eating a tiffin of Poha, we started out armed with umbrellas, kid needs and dabbas packed with rasam rice and vegetables. Yes, we are like that only :) But hey, try surviving 20 days on whatever scraps of vegetarian food you can salvage in Europe and you would say we are totally right! Wouldn't it be sad if you hated your Europe trip just because you got sick of bread, Pizzas and bland pasta and went to a state of mind when you became ready to kill someone for a morsel of curd rice, sambar or Upma! :)

We picked up a map from a nearby shop to help us with all the 'Vaporetti' routes (Boats that ply like buses in the Venetian waterways) and reached the dock of the islands of Venice. We soon hopped into  the first vaporetti with a lot of excitement.  The sights of Venice were magical from the first through the last of what we saw. It was literally like visiting a bygone era. The ancient buildings and roads, the very characteristics sights and smells and the fact that everything was on a waterside made the experience totally unique and beautiful. 

Though Venice had a lot of landmarks to visit like any other tourist destination, for the first half of the day, we chose to just ride the routes and walk around the cobbled alleys, enjoying the ambience that was so unique to this beautiful land. We rode the vaporetti from one stop to another, taking in the sights of the old buildings by the banks. We jumped off at a stop and walked around for sometime, stopped at a pizzeria for some snacks, bought some gelato and ate it, leaning on a bridge to watch the boats and people as they floated by. It was pretty much free flow and we thoroughly enjoyed just being there and soaking in the very characteristic environment of Venice.  

Here are some pictures from the morning of exploration :

First views of Venice

A charming narrow waterway

A pretty little ancient church that we walked into while exploring the many alleys of Venice

Gelato section at a road side pizzeria

The tasty thin crust Pizza that we ate before Gelato :)

A colourful spice store

For the next half of the day, we visited Burano - one of the many islands in Venice which is famous for its colours and lace making. This was a longer boat ride from the main island and we enjoyed the sights of expanse of water with far away banks. We landed in Burano after about 30 mins and walked on inside, to explore the island. The narrow waterway lined with colourful houses on either side, the market place bustling with restaurants, shops, bakeries and tourists, the quiet residential streets with trees, beautiful plants and houses painted in bright colours were all such a treat for the eyes. It happened to be my husband's birthday and as we sat at a restaurant to eat lunch, we had him cut a small piece of cake to celebrate. By the side, a street musician played a string instrument, singing along beautifully and a mild shower added to the magical ambience. 

Waterway inside Burano

Here are some pictures of the very beautiful residential lanes of Burano with their stone roads, beautiful trees, plants and flowers and the brightly painted houses. 

It was around 4 pm when we jumped into the return vaporetti from Burano. We sailed to famous St.Mark's Sqaure to see the clock tower and walked around the sqaure. It housed some very posh restaurants and had musicians performing by the side. We then walked around some small streets and spent some time watching the Gondala boats, with the boatmen sporting their famous typical attire with hats on, as they maneuvered the narrow side waterways skillfully. 

One of the bridges that we stopped at had a doorway at the dead end before it led to the street via a starcase. It made me think about the local population who had their homes amidst all the shops and touristy bustle. I wondered how it must feel to have crowds of people from around the world walking by your house, clicking pictures and looking at your home too as part of all the sights that they have come to see. Many of them probably owe their livelihood to the bustling tourism but am sure they yearn for some peace and quiet too. 

The famous and expensive Gondola with its boatmen in costume

St.Mark's Sqaure

The Doge's Palace 

After spending the whole day wandering around the streets and waterways of Venice, we took a vaporetti back to the main land. It was close to sunset and the lighting changed from the golden hues of the evening to the dark of the night even as we were on this journey. As the old buildings and bridges lit up for the night, the sight was so magical. It was literally like visiting a bygone era and induced such a sense of awe that made us get totally get immersed in them. Here are some pictures : 

We went back to our place of stay in a trance like state after that beautiful day spent at a wonderland. Next morning, we packed up, vacated our place of stay and went to the train station at Venice. We had about 2 hours left before we boarded the train to Florence, our next destination in Italy. There was a huge line for the locker room. So we decided to take turns to do one last round before we left Venice. The husband and kid visited a nearby church while I watched our luggage. For my turn, I just bought a gelato, climbed up a bridge and savored it staring at the waters below, watching boats pass by and looking at the buildings, houses and shops lining the banks, taking in one last piece of Venice before we left :)