Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why not Venice?

First of all,  in the “dumb as a post”  category,  I have a bit of a confession.
In spite of having numerous maps of pretty much all of Europe,  and this was due to the less than stellar performance of the navigation system in the Audi that we had in the Netherlands,  we managed to drive to Italy and back without taking along any hint of a map. 
Kind of dumb I suppose,  but if it came right down to it,  we did have a meagre map of Verona,  and I could have pointed the car east and made my way back to Austria.  
But we KNEW that Venice wasn’t all that far away in the grand scheme of things,  and maybe it’s a Canadian thing,  but we think nothing of driving far and wide at the drop of a hat.  It’s not as easy when one gets a little “on in years” and I would no longer consider working all day and then heading off to some distant city three hours away to hang out with friends.  
Did that kind of thing when I was 24….not 54.  But roughly an hour’s drive to go to Venice for the day?   Why not?
So that’s what we did on Saturday.

Once again,  you can read all about Venice to your hearts content on the internet,  but I’ll try and sum up Venice in one word. 



See,  if you take any Old World city and replace all the streets with waterways,  that would be part of the equation.   The thing is,  in recent years,  to keep the amount of particulate down to a manageable level,  car and truck engine manufacturers have had to jump through hoops to meet certain pollution control standards.   If you drove a diesel thirty years ago,  there was a very good chance that that sucker STUNK.   Diesel engines still tend to be a tad stinky,  but you can actually walk around the hind end of the BMW (it’s a diesel btw)  and you’re not going to gag in the slightest. 
I vividly recall the first time I came to Europe and was studying at the British Institute in Paris,  just how bad the fumes could be.  (That would be 1978 by the way, for those of you with score cards)  There were a couple mornings during the week when my classes started at 8:00 a.m.,  which meant having to brave not only the smelly subway,  but also a mix of diesel fumes and French cigarette smoke.  Man,  I want to tell ya,  I’m a little “gaggy” in the morning as it is,  and there were a couple times there when I just about tossed my cookies.
Oh,  and I was a smoker at the time!!

So here’s the thing:  While the gondolas are human powered,  all the other boats are driven by engines.   Most of them are diesels,  and none of them seem to be required to adhere to the same pollution control standards of land based vehicles.

So no matter in which direction you looked….stinky diesels.
I did see a couple Honda four strokes,  but we know how pricey those things are,  so they were as rare as hen’s teeth.

Um…so…ya,  SMELLY.

The other thing too about Venice is that well,  “you can’t there from here”,  which was an expression that we were fond of using when we lived in Puerto Rico.  Remember what I said about waterways?   Well,  we had the car.

See that line of vehicles?  We inched along in that line for a good half hour waiting to get into a parking lot.   Sure glad the car is air conditioned.
Unless you’re actually sitting on the toilet at this moment,  I don’t want to tell you what we paid for parking,  the water “bus” and so on,  since you’ll crap your drawers. 
There’s  a certain frame of mind you have to put yourself in,  and it’s sort of like the semi-comatose state that I try to put myself in for air travel.   You just suck it up,  and do what you have to,  or pay what you have to pay.

At first we wanted to get into the Garage San Marco,  which is about the farthest you can get by car,  but as we were coming over the causeway,  the signs indicated that that parking garage was full,  so we opted instead to park at the Isola del Tronchetto,  and take the “People Mover” over to the island.

That one, I must say,  was the cheapest ride that we had,  since it was only €1,00 per person each way.   Of course, it only had two stops,  so it’s not like we’ll need to alert the media or anything.

In spite of some slight motion sickness issues (which I didn’t experience in Venice for some reason)  I love hanging around boats of all kinds,  so just the whole idea of having to board public transit that’s on the water somehow makes taking public transit (read: being squished in with many,  many people)  just that much more palatable.   Or maybe, “less onerous”?  Anyone who has been following along has a pretty good idea of my views on public transit.  
Not my first choice.
There’s something unique though in chugging along on a water “bus”,   hearing an ambulance,  and then seeing the boat fly by at about 40 knots!    Not sure where else you get to see that.  Not any place I’ve been so far,  that’s for sure.

Without getting into all the silly little details,  we basically wandered around,  took a few pics,  had a nice meal,  then meandered down to the canal to sit for a while with a couple libations, watch the boats,  the people and so on.    Then there’s that moment when we look at each other and we know that,  “that’s enough”,  and we made our way back to the car,  and back to Verona.  It was getting past six p.m. by then anyway.

Now,  having said these things,  you might think that I didn’t enjoy going to Venice,  or wonder whether Venice is worth seeing at least once in your life?  Hell yes!  Venice is cool.    I knew it would be crowded.  I already knew the weather would be hot.  So? Who cares? 

We were an hour away by car.  To not make the effort to go there would have been just pitiful,  and something we’d regret for an awfully long time.

Will we go back?
Well…   We pretty much figure we’re “done” with Italy,  as far as we can tell, but like I said,  we were in Verona with time on our hands anyway,  and there was no way we were NOT going to visit Venice.    I’ve shoved a bunch more pictures of scenes from Venice here..

But hey,  there might be another opera that we feel that we’ll just have to go see,  so who knows?  Never say never.

Speaking of which,  I’ll leave all about Aida until tomorrow.



  1. Loved your pictures of Venice, interesting to see things from the canals.

  2. Great pics of Venice, thanks. I'd definitely drive an hour to visit Venice. Heck, I'd drive all day even if it was smelly when I got there.

    Glad to hear you got your font problem fixed up.

  3. Well, thanks for the help. Some times I just sit here in a quiet stupor, so any time someone wants to pipe up with an idea or two, that's OK with me.

  4. If you go in April/May it isn't really smelly yet and much less crowded. If you ever go back, definitely do it in the mid-season. The difference is like Vienna in the winter vs. the summer.


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.