I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just one vaporetto

We spent twice as long in Venice as the whole of Slovenia (and about 5 times more than Slovakia). It was kinda worth it, I guess.

Originally we were meant to arrive at just before 8pm, giving us enough time to get to our rooms and shower before making it to the streets for sunset at 8.55pm. The delay scuppered that, but it scarcely mattered. Those of us who had never been to Venice before were suitably awestruck by the place: from the second you step out from the station you're greeted with a canal, a glorious bridge, many boats, amazing architecture, a couple of grand churches, etc. Meanwhile the non-debutants were all glad to be back again. Steve, in particular, was in his element. This was his city, many plans made with help from many contacts.

The rooms were not a long walk. We were staying in a cheap hostel with a curfew and reverse curfew - in before 0030, no going out til after 0700 (so no sunrise tourism). That mattered to me at the time, but not ultimately. Showers were had and phone calls were made: a water taxi was to pick us up at 2145 and takes us to near our restaurant for the evening.

Them boats around them canals are pretty good, eh? What a cracking way to travel. Getting off 10 minutes later we set off through alleys to a small square where 9 seats outside were reserved from us. Max and his pizzeria staff looked after us for a decent while, plying breadsticks wrapped in ham, some kind of savoury doughnut things, and after a gap during which Paul presented his latest photographic masterpieces (really, go look at them), along came a 2 metre long pizza. Actually not a single dish, but 6 or so small pizzas served interconnected and presented on a 2 metre long plank balancing on upside down beer steins. Beer and wine and, somewhat unbelievably, extra pizza came and went. We tailed off with grappa, photos were took and hands shook. It was a fantastic evening...and then the fun really started.

Domus Civica's curfew does not fuck about. Apparently they are ruthless; you miss by 10 seconds and you are locked out. A boat would be quickest in theory, but would require the gamble of a 10+ minute wait. We decided to walk, with 35 minutes on the clock and google maps telling us it was a 24 minute trip on foot.

I was so ignorant of Venice that I'd never heard of St Mark's Square, nor the Realto bridge. Basically the only thing I knew was that it has fewer miles of canals than Birmingham, and that there are gondolas whose punters sing about delicious ice cream made by Wall's. So naturally I was the best person to lead us home. I am chief navigation officer after all, tasked with at all times knowing where we are, where we should be, and how to fix any problems a disconnect might cause. And looking like Jim Royle wearing Micky from Snatch's hat.

I grabbed some walking directions and we set off. As if to prove that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I was overruled a couple of times by people who had been to this city before. I preferred to remain a slave to the blue dot and the blue line, fearing deviation would cause a big problem in such a maze of torment. Granted, being overruled did at one point mean we managed to hit St Mark's square at the crack of midnight, which was quite cool (and inch perfect tourisme grand vitesse), but it wasn't bloody getting us back now was it?

I reclaimed authority and stamped my feet down. We took unlikely looking turns, hit canals and alleys people were convinced were wrong. Nothing looked familiar to anyone, but to me that was the natural state and not remotely a cause for concern.

Our leader, simultaneously the most vociferous of the unsure and most panicky about the curfew, bowed in respect when we got back, which did his back much less good than my ego. Domus Civica had appeared from seemingly nowhere, with 8 whole minutes to spare. NEVER ANY DOUBT. My credentials intact, I intended to put them to good use in the morning.

No comments: