I didn’t survive entirely unscathed this morning from last nights over indulgencies but a little lay in and I wasn’t feeling too bad! Venice proper was the call of the day! A chance to explore the famed floating City and, after all, THIS was what I was here for! Eager to experience the wonders that may lie in front of me I set about getting into town.
Train or bus? Bus or train? Although the bus route had been explained to me yesterday by the owner of the hotel, I opted for what I saw as the “safe option” of the train. I mean, I knew where the station was, I knew that Santa Lucia was only 10 minutes or so away and, well, I had been getting trains everywhere so far so I should be experienced enough to get the short distance in without any problems. Right?
Mistake numero uno. It seemed simple enough (I should have already learnt from my experiences so far that “looking” and “being” are two entirely different concepts. So I shuffle along the underpass to select a platform. See the board say “Venezia S.L”, see the train was only 15 minutes away and think” Job done”.
Job, definitely NOT done. About 3 minutes before the train is due in, the board changes, farewell Venezia S.L, and hello somewhere completely different. Now, maybe I somehow fell asleep or time stopped but I had witnessed no train to Venice come in or leave and I as feeling somewhat perplexed. A confused little soul now, I wandered back down to the underpass to see if I could locate another train into Santa Lucia. Seeing that about half of the platforms had it listed I opted for the next available one (a few minutes time) and this time a few minutes down the line, I was on a train to famous canal laden City.
Arriving into Santa Lucia station and just generally following the masses out, I figured life should get a little simpler. Yep, bingo! You got it! Mistake number 2 of the young day! I had been told that the Vaporetto #1 would take me down to Piazza San Marco (why not start with arguably the most famous square in Venice) and that seemed pretty straight forward. It didn’t take me long to locate the entrance for said water bus and just as it came in I overheard someone saying that this was heading to Piazzale Roma, which a quick check on the map indicated that I was indeed about to get on the bus in the opposite direction to St Marks. To confuse matters further, the stop for St Marks (Piazza San Marco) isn’t called either of those names. Instead you should get off at Vallaresso and my lack of knowledge nearly cost me getting off at the correct stop!
Hoping I had indeed got off at the correct stop, I was pleasantly surprised, not to mention relieved that as I stepped around the corner, Piazza San Marco stood before me! Stress abated and a new found eagerness to explore, I just had a wonder around the square but felt somewhat lost without my guidebook. Coming across a museum I decided on a whim to just go with it. The Doges Palace or “Palazzo Ducale” is “a combination of Byzantine, Gothic and renaissance architecture”, Grande certainly yet not so much spectacular as bizarre. The mix of grandeur, a maze of rooms without direction (meaning I wound back in the same rooms on several occasions) and the labyrinthine prison cells made for an interesting if claustrophobic experience. I did wonder if I’d ever find my way back out!! 3 hours later I was back in the warm sun and settling down to some lunch!
Ah yes, Lunch. Better chalk this one up as mistake number three. I figured I had got this one right, restaurant off the main drag, check the prices first, order something small. So my Omelette came with the small beer I had ordered. I think it was small all round! I dint exactly get a feasting from the omelette so I made the most of the bread that came with it. I figured I had done pretty well so was, how can I put this nicely, “shocked” when the bill arrived! €9 for the omelette (That was fine, I knew that), €7 (yes, that’s seven) for the beer (!!!), €3 for the water (hold on, I was just brought this!) and €2 for the bread (ditto the water), oh and don’t forget the compulsory €3 service charge. Making for a grand total of €25 for just an Omelette and a beer. The conclusion? I’d been well and truly shafted!
Grumbling as I walked away with directions to the internet cafe I swore that was my only eat out meal in Venice and I would feed myself by alternate means for the rest of my time here. After a walk up and down the street I was again pointed in the right direction to what can loosely be described as an “internet cafe”. In reality it was a shop with a couple of PCs charging the earth to use a connection slower than Victoria Beckham’s mind! It did just about survive me booking my hostels for Munich (I couldn’t get in my first choice and it was a little more expensive than I thought) and for Prague.
Heading back to Mestre was almost as much fun as getting here this morning with no indication anywhere as to which stations any train called at. I wound up waiting to get directions from the help desk who pointed me in the direction of platform 14. The rest was plain sailing and I was back at my hotel before I knew it. Catching up with my washing kept me amused most of the evening along with the TV coverage of Hurricane Rita. An early night and damn, those mosquitoes bite!
Tags: Italy, Piazza San Marco, Santa Lucia, Travel, Venice