Monday, July 12, 2010


The first pleasant surprise that Venice greeted us with was that there was no road in front of the railway station. Instead there was water with boats on it. Another first in my life, that was courtesy of this Europe trip. We were warned about the smell of water that supposedly hits one when putting foot on Venice the first time but somehow it didn’t hit us.
It was really hot in Venice. Our hotel was located at a very good location: near the Giardini or Garden created by the great Napolean, sometime in the past. It was located at just the edge of the famous Venice island, near yet away enough to save us from the hustle and bustle. Our hotel was a full four floors above the ground and there was no lift. We hated those stairs for all of our three days in venice.
Venice is a collection of many small islands which are close enough to be joined by small bridges which have become so famous. They used to be made of wood in the medieval times but have been converted to the current stone structure as recently as the 18th century. The canals running between these pieces vary in width a lot. The biggest and widest canal is the Grand Canal that divides Venice into two. It looks spectacular at night. Water is said to be very romantic. If this is true then Venice is the most romantic place on earth, for there is a lot of water and in a very gentle form. The best way to pass time in Venice, in my opinion, is to sit on the banks in the evening and just see the water play, always promising to touch your dangling feet.
Venice is also a very happening place. There are numerous beautiful shops. The island is almost a never ending bazaar. All the biggest names in fashion are here, along with innumerable street side cafes that serve a variety of European food items. Surprisingly, the variety in non-European food was almost absent. It seems that there is only one Indian restaurant there and that too did not have good reviews so we skipped it. We lived mostly on Pizza and pasta. We must have walked a lot in Venice but it was a breeze compared to the earlier part of our trip for there wasn’t much time to walk. It was exceptionally hot in the day.
Did I say hot? It wasn’t hot, it was scorching. Here was how we spent a typical day. We would get up really late, 9:00. Leisurely do the routine of toilet plus brushing the teeth with just enough time for the breakfast. After breakfast, leisurely do the bathing and preening routine. Then lie down on bed to read something or watch tv. Sleep, get up, watch tv, may be sleep again etc. At about 4:00 go downstairs and outside. Find that it is still hot. Go upstairs, curse the stairs, lie down. Until about 6:00, the time when it became good to go out. Leisurely get ready again and step out at 7 to curse the wasted hour from 6 to 7 that could have been used. Enjoy Venice from 7 to 10, just walking in the beautiful streets, running between beautiful houses and shops decorated with flowers, to meet the beautiful water, alongside beautiful people. At 10 the interiors of the island turn suddenly quite. The activity then concentrates on the banks of the Grand Canal and major squares. The streets becoming so deserted as to appear unsafe. Of course they must be safe but we were new and helpless because of being ignorant in Italian. Before 10 we would reach San Marco square, from where we knew we can just keep walking on the side of the Grand Canal to reach our hotel. At San Marco, or thereabouts, we would find a spot near the water and just spend time watching it. There is always some music playing in the night at San Marco. Music, lights and water combine to create a serene dream that marvelously seems to have persistence about it. It is not ethereal but real and has been there forever. Almost everything about the place is beautiful. I suspect that it appears even more beautiful while remembering then it must have been because until now I felt that InterLaken and Cinque Terre were the most beautiful places in the trip. I guess it takes time to take in the beauty of a place as exquisite as Venice.