V is for Venice

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The Grand Canal

Ah Venice: the lagoon, the Bridge of Sighs, St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, the glass factory. Is there anywhere more romantic? Is there any better way to arrive than by the Orient Express?

We’d already visited once – a day excursion from a rather dour holiday in Yugoslavia in 1982 when, as slightly less broke youngsters we took our first real grownup holiday together. Belgrade was all grey concrete; Kransja Gora a mountain resort of stunning beauty and miserable locals. My one experince of communism, up close and personal just reinforced the idea that capitalism may suck but life under a set of five year plans and zero incentives doesn’t work.

The trip to Venice, via a coach that saw service in the Retreat from Moscow and through a northern Italian landscape still scarred from dreadful mudslides, was grim; arriving in Venice was like slipping through a wormhole to a parallel universe set in a fairytale. We walked around, necks aching from the twisting needed to see everything and vowed to return and see it properly.

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All aboard!

In 1989 the Textiliste and I had been married 5 years. You have to do something, but what? She was freshly pregnant and, hmm, long distance travelling wasn’t  necessarily what was called for. So, the boy scratched his head and came  up with Venice. A popular choice.

I love train journeys – apparent ever since, denied a middle name by my ponderous parents, I added ‘Thomas’ of my own accord, aged 8, my inspiration being the eponymous Tank Engine. So the opportunity to take the Orient Express as the mode of arrival was too much a temptation. It was as memorable and delightful as you would imagine. The baby Grand in the dining car, the day-lounge cabin that turned into a bedroom, the micro bathroom behind a wall, waking up in the Alps – all utterly perfect. Crossing the channel on a Sea Containers ferry with a cargo of booze cruisers and football thugs less so.

The inside of Venice Station is unmemorable – it could be anywhere. But emerging into the light to hail a water taxi was unique.

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waiting for a cab

We sat in our vaporetto, soaking up sights – the buildings, impossibly perched on the canal sides; they extraordinary confection of churches; the lack of any roads and paths. We stared at the crumbling brickwork that our guidebooks told us were evidence that Venice’s days are numbered as a result of rising sea levels and hoped they were wrong. It would be such a loss.

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The iconic tower of St Mark’s and the palace

We stepped off the boat at St Mark’s Square. We studied the tower, the bridges, the lagoon. We noted the choreography of the trinket sellers. We smiled at the feral cats slinking amongst the shadows and into the tourists’ affections. We were in love with each other and the place.

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Just another taxi rank

For a week we walked amongst passages that ended in courtyards full of history. We held our noses at the occasional stagnant pool. We closed our eyes and opened our imaginations as we sat on a rickety gondola while a toothless alcoholic in stripy top and gay bandana manoeuvred us under crumbling structures.

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Up high and down low, there’s always something to see

In short we had a fabulous time.

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Even at a distance, even the smallest island, there’s something to admire

Well as fabulous as constant unremitting morning sickness will allow..

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Any moment know little wiglet (as he was then known) would cause some internal consternation…

Do visit if you can; the sea level fears are far from unfounded. Millions are spent to keep this place afloat in every sense.

This post has been brought to you as part of the Lemon Shark request service

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in A to Z blogging challenge, holidays, miscellany, travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to V is for Venice

  1. Ack! Venice in my inbox! Be right back…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Shortly after the attacks on the twin towers in 2001, Ryanair was desperate to get folk flying and gave away a very large number of seats. We booked a flight to Genoa, courtesy of Ryanair, parked up in the Purple Parking at Stanstead, courtesy of Visa points and hired a car for a long weekend in Genoa, courtesy of American Express rewards. We had to pay for our hotel in Desenzano del Garda, on the shores of Lake Garda, which meant the weekend (including petrol) cost just under £200. We took a daytrip to Venice and another to Verona. Pity it was January, and cold. But we did learn our first Italian word – nebbia! Strongest memory? Italy had just reached the stage of conversion to the Euro that meant they could pay in Lire or Euros, but any change would be in Euros. As we entered a restaurant, we saw a family arguing with the cashier. They left by the time we were half-way through our main course. By the time we were ready to move on to the next course, they were back, continuing the argument. They left again just in time for us to pay our bill. I preferred the Euros. According to the menu, a single serving of our main course cost £17000 or 8.78€.

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  3. willowdot21 says:

    I have never been , not sure I want to …maybe my imagination is better than reality? xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sacha Black says:

    Aww lovely post. Always wanted to go to Venice. Been to Rome, Carrara, Florence, Tuscany generally but never Venice.

    What’s this lemon shark requesting?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    Thank you for this wonderful glimpse of a city I’ve not seen but hope to in the near future. Seems like I’ve read a lot of books set there, and I halfway feel like I know it. I understand the Bridge of Sighs is not named for the sighs of lovers!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norah says:

    Lovely. You make it sound romantic and enchanting. Love the pics. One day, hopefully, I’ll get to see it for myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Charli Mills says:

    I have taken a gondola ride through Venice, the Venice Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, that is. 🙂 Your trip was more memorable and your photos enchanting.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Annecdotist says:

    On my trip to Venice (inter-railing in the late 1970s) we stayed in a nunnery. Despite a 9 p.m. curfew I thought the whole place was fab.

    Like

  9. Rachel M says:

    I love Venice. It’s one of my favourite cities and one of the reasons for this is because there are no cars. Not a single one. You can wander around without fear of being hit by a car and without the noise and sound pollution. I wish more cities would ban cars from their centre.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The pictures are beautiful. I’d love to see Venice. When I was pregnant with my first, we traveled to the Grand Canyon. I remember well the difficulties of morning sickness away from home.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Autism Mom says:

    Yay Lemon Shark! Lovely post!

    Like

  12. roweeee says:

    This was the equivalent of dangling a Tim Tam in front of me and just as I’m about to snatch it, you pull it away. Gone! I did make it to Florance back in 1992 but not to Venice. I love the Taxi photo. It could have been a painting. How I wish I was there…particularly right at this moment. Another storm has hit. No thunder. No wind. Just very heavy rain. It’s quite noisy! xx Rowena

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