Monday 14th July.
We set off today to catch the Vaporetto to take us on the thirty minute ride to Venice. Unfortunately somewhere on the way we turned left instead of right and walked for an hour in a big loop nearly ending up where we had started from. How we managed to drive from England to Greece without ending up in Finland I'll never know. However, we found a nice beachside cafe where we stopped for coffee and croissant (we'd forgotten how good croissant are) and then a nice restaurant where we had pizza washed down with prosecco. By this time it was too late to set off for Venice so we came back to the campsite for a little hammock time. We've done a little more research along the lines of "Venice in a day" and intend getting an early start tomorrow.
Last night we went to the hotel next door to watch the World Cup final as they had told us it would be on their TV. What they didn't tell us was the restaurant would be rammed with diners and we felt a little uncomfortable pulling up a couple of chairs and ordering two beers. So we came back to the campsite and asked the lady who owns the place where we could watch the match. "Here" she said and invited us and a few other campers into her dining room to watch the game on a nice 42"HD television. She gave us cake, prosecco and fetched beer when the match went to extra time and we watched the game with her, her husband and a few French and Italian campers. I asked who they were supporting and they all said Germany because they are a European team. I said I was supporting Argentina. Despite this we all got along well and when I thanked our host again today she said that this is a family campsite and we are all family here. Lovely. Of course, there is a big hole in my life now where the World Cup was but at least it means I won't be going to bed at stupid o'clock after watching games that went to extra time and penalties. And the Premier League starts soon!
Wednesday 15th July.
We are still parked up tonight at the AgriCampsite in Cavallino - Treporti but today we made it to Venice! We caught the ferry for the thirty minute cruise and booked our return journey for the last boat at 6.30pm. Not much chance of seeing Venice by night then. We arrived and walked the short distance to St Marks Square. I've never seen so many people in one place since the night Bradford City beat Arsenal at Valley Parade. It was packed. The queue for the Basillica was about 50 metres long and the one for the Campanile a little longer. To be fair most of our recent trips to churches, palaces, temples and various archeological sites have been made out of season so we've pretty much had them to ourselves with no queuing. We knew it would be busy in the middle of July but the sheer number of tourists took us by surprise. We didn't so much walk around as shuffle. Determined to get our culture fix we joined the relatively short queue for the Doge's Palace which was suitably impressive and suitably expensive for admission. A bonus for us was that it provided some respite from the sun. After a few days of overcast weather the sun came back today with a vengeance.
Obviously you can't "do" Venice in a day but last night after extensive research we decided on six places we would visit. We managed two. Partly because we spent so long in the Doge's Palace and partly because moving around was so slow. We went to the Rialto bridge which was just about visible through the throngs of people taking photographs and generally clogging the steps. What we saw was impressive though. We spent the rest of the time wandering about crossing pretty bridges over minor canals and marveling at the number of folk who had paid €80-100 for a Gondola trip. No wonder the Gondoliers were singing. Venice is beautiful and I wish we had more time to explore it but it's not inexpensive. We went for a cheap Menu Turistic for lunch and it still cost us an arm and a leg. I think to get the best out of a sightseeing trip here you need to get to Venice early in the morning with either a city pass or individual tickets bought in advance to jump the queues. And bring plenty of money.
A ceiling detail in the Doge's Palace.
Bridge of Sighs from the Palace.
The Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.
One way Gondola traffic.
Tomorrow we head for Verona knowing that we haven't really seen all we should have done in Venice but maybe we'll come back one day.