Venice is a noisy, bustling, colorful place. This is vastly accentuated when a bunch of your friends happen to turn up in the place.
After 12 months of debate planning and booking, we had nearly all arrived. Graham and Bet had already had their adventures just trying to leave Melbourne Airport. I wont steal Nico’s thunder but ask him how he feels about Melbourne taxi drivers and whatever you don’t mention lonely laptop bags containing passports and wallets!
Cheryl, Mike and Kim had already been away for a week checking out the sights of Italy including a cycle holiday. Looking forward to seeing their photos! After their appartment in Rome, the Rialto’s three person bedroom was a bit more cosy. Michael complained to the concierge that the room didn’t seem anywhere near as big as the one on the website.
“Its like when you buy a hamburger. It never looks as good as the one in the picture”
Michael had no answer for that one!
Alistair and Tracy kept sending us tantalising images of their balcony at santorini in Greece. It looked incredible but they weren’t going to eclipse us. Venice was equally enjoyable and we had the added benefit of sharing it with our mates!
Debs and Mark regaled us with wonderous tales of their bike riding trip from the Dory Hotel. They were highly recommending it as the next great Bandido adventure. A bike riding hotel, run by cyclists, for cyclists and with everything included. Even their kit looks great, well on Debs anyway.
Denise and I had flown in from Zurich to Venice. The small Swiss Air plane landed and literally skidded to a halt (learner pilot?).
We were greeted by a man with our name on it who escorted us to the water taxi stand. We loaded our bags aboard a lovely cream coloured motor launch with highly varnished timber cabin top. We proceeded to speed away from the mainland toward a hazy venice down the water highway identified by the tri-pole marked shipping lane. There was so little room that the passing taxis had to briefly turn to each other as they passed in order to jump each other’s wake. Denise said it felt like being in a Bond movie as we slipped past the carbinarie hiding with a radar gun at the entrance to a canal. Airports, shops and other vestiges of the modern world melted away as we sped through ancient canals with their houses and buildings that defied any logic regarding structures that should be able to defy gravity. I know they’ve been here for centuries. But how?
We arrived at the hotel Rialto to be greeted by Mark and Deb who said “glad you’re here, we’re meeting for dinner in 10 minutes”. Denise and I were loaded with bags, smelt bad and wanted to collapse. Checked in, dropped bags and back in the foyer to be greeted by Graham and Bet, Mike, Kim and Cheryl, Deb and Mark. We made our way through the yet to be identified (by me at least) maze of streets that make up Venice. Mike had organised a table for dinner and we were to meet Mark and Sue there.
Sitting down and eating after negotiating extra tables to be joined (an ongoing Bandido tradition), we enjoyed food from the ‘touristico menu’. Lesson number one: never go to a restaurant that has a ‘touristico menu’. It means that you will be tempted by the low menu price but receive small food portions, water and wine at exhorbatant prices and once you have eaten feel that ‘it is time to leave’. As Alistair said, knowledge costs.
The following day, Denise and I got up at 6 to go for a run. What a great time to be up. No one around and we had Venice to ourselves. Back to the hotel for shower and breakfast with the others. We were off to san marco square to realise a bit fantasy. San marco square is iconic. Ludlum has used it in his novels as has Le Carre. It has appeared in numerous hollowood movies over the year and finally we were here! Along with a few bandidos and a thousand other people. We dutifully cued to visit the basillaca and walked around a space that has seen kings an nobles doing so for hundreds of years. We don’t have this ‘built’ history in Australia. Our indigenous history is no less impressive but is less tangible than this. Lavish interiors supported by stone structures that have you wondering “how did they do that in those days?”.
We then walked across to the tower, the highest point in Venice. For some reason, Michael had to keep going back to the ticket office to seek the assistance of the girl behind the counter. Was it her eyes, blond hair or something else? The natural beauty of Venice never ceased to amaze us. The view of the tower provided the necessary context for understanding where and how Venice was layed out. In essence, it was a cluster of small islands in a lagoon. Each island had a church built on it and they were eventually all linked by a multitude of small bridges over many centuries.
Needless to say, we saw our fair share of gondolas. We even went on one ! Two actually after Mike sent in his key negotiator, Senoir Nico. I think the price actually went up but “it was a good deal”.