My photography adventure in Venice began with a short flight to LA and then to Paris changing planes there for my final destination, Venice. I had one hour to make my flight which , of course, was in another terminal. I had my daily workout just getting to the gate but made it with a few minutes to spare!
My plan had been to stay in a B&B near the airport as I was arriving late and did not want to try to find the hotel in Venice late in the evening. I had arranged with the B&B to pick me up but when I called they said their car had to be repaired so I had to take a taxi which cost quite a bit more than did their shuttle. When I arrived, I cashed $80.00 into Euros thinking that should be enough to see me through until the next day – WRONG. The taxi was $40 and for my US $80 I only got about 43 Euros. I arrived out in the country with 3 euros and no way to get any more until I got to Venice the next day. Great beginning!
The B&B was in a residential area but kind of country at the same time. The owner recommended a restaurant and gave me directions. It was a lovely walk through an underpass and then along a country road with fields and flowers. I wasn’t sure where I was going but finally came upon the restaurant. I had a nice dinner and a much needed glass of wine. I started to return to the B&B but decided to try to find the bus stop which was on the main road of the small town. I didn’t find it, but figured I hadn’t walked far enough. It seemed quite a way to carry my luggage but I didn’t see an alternative. I opted to take the bus to where the public boats (vaporettos) took passengers into the city. It only cost 2 euros as opposed to the taxi’s $40 plus.
That night I went to bed without actually knowing the time. I woke up at 3am (jet lag confusion)and decided just to get up as I couldn’t sleep. I decided to change my plans and leave on the earliest bus into town. None of my transformers or plugs seem to be working so I had a hard time doing my hair or doing anything that needed 110 current. What fun! The buffet breakfast was in a basket on the dresser in my bedroom – two kinds of packaged sweet rolls. I made myself a cup of tea. I was on the second floor and there were two sets of stairs to get to my room. I had to carry my bags down one at a time. I should have been working out a lot more to prepare for this trip!
It was a long walk to the bus stop and I had just missed the 6:05 bus and then had to wait for the 6:35am bus. A kind lady came along and tried to talk to me in Italian and I answered in Spanish and English. She told me she was going to the same place I was and would help me. It cost about 2 euros to take the bus but when I went to pay, the driver said never mind so I still had my three euros. It was a 25 minute ride to Piazza De Roma to get the vaporetto into the city. It was a struggle getting off the bus with my luggage and the “friendly helper” was nowhere to be found. By the time I got off, I didn’t even see where everyone went and had no idea where the dock was or the boats. I found a ticket kiosk finally. If you can imagine me going down steps with this luggage. I had one piece on top of the other but the surface was so uneven that several times the luggage fell over. Anyways, I spoke to the kiosk person and he said he didn’t take a credit card but the one down the way did. I asked another woman who was standing near where the ticket place was and she was kind enough to take me there. I bought a 7 day pass which was to be reimbursed by the tour director later. It was very busy at this time of the morning. I guess it was all the workers going to work in the city. It was so difficult managing the luggage and trying to get it onto the boat – at one point the luggage tipped over – the pilot of the boat ran over and helped me set it back up. All the seats were taken so I just stood with my luggage and hoped I would be able to figure out where or when to get off. It took a lot of stops but finally made it into the city and got off at the famous Piazza de San Marcos.
Now I had to follow the directions from the director and the hotel map to find my way through the narrow, winding streets and hopefully not across too many canal bridges with my luggage. I actually made it most of the way with a bit of help from a nice gentleman who carried my luggage up and over the bridge and then pointed me in the right direction to the hotel.
Finally, I had arrived at my destination!!!! I checked in and the lady that runs the hotel brought me a cup of coffee and said the room would be ready in a few minutes which actually turned into an hour. She gave me lots of information so it was time well-spent. The room was finally ready and I had a chance to unpack and get myself together ready to look for a bank to change my dollars. It is a small hotel but well-situated. My room number is 101. It is small and kind of worn looking but cozy enough for me. I tried out my electrical plugs and transformers and everything worked but the hair dryer (which had worked in the B&B) so it may have burnt out.
So exhausted but happy, I set out to meander about and find the bank which was actually back in the Piazza San Marco where I arrived. I made my way over canals and down narrow streets, taking photos as I went. I asked directions several times , found the bank and changed dollars into euros.
There are tons of narrow streets, little shops, and restaurants along with many canals filled with gondoliers, speed boats and tourists enjoying the city. I came upon several lovely plazas and picturesque churches and buildings.
I had a great time and did manage to find my way back. I was worn out so decided to go take a nap and promptly fell asleep. I felt cold when I woke up so decided to go out and find some sun. The weather is exactly like San Diego weather right now. I found a great ledge to sit on in the sun facing one of the canals and enjoyed watching the activities of the gondolas and speedboats passing back and forth carrying tourists of all nationalities.
I returned to the hotel and found a place to have lunch – every place advertised pizza and seafood and all kinds of delicious looking pastries. One of the hotel staff recommended a nearby cafe but I didn’t see anyone in it so thought maybe it wasn’t that good. It was probably just too early as it was only 12pm. I found a place and had a strange lunch of mushroom and vegetables and stale bread. The best thing was the glass of local beer. When I got the bill, I was surprised to see a strange charge called a “Portero charge”. The waiter said the charge was for use of the table. I also found out if you buy coffee in a cafe and sit down – they charge you more than if you buy it and take it away.
I went back to my room and soon after, received a call from Jim, the tour photographer, and his wife. They had just arrived. I told them a bit about my arrival and they expressed regrets that it had been so difficult. He has offered to help me get to the train station via the Vaporetto on Thursday instead of paying 70 euros for the speedboat.
Later, I met the rest of the group – everyone seemed congenial. Several had been on the previous tour to Tuscany and so most of them knew each other. There was an Australian lady and myself who were new and a husband and wife from Arkansas. There were 4 couples and three singles.
That night we went to a nearby restaurant and had dinner. We had this drink called a spritz – made with comprari. The color is bright pinkish and is very bitter and tastes like medicine. They said it was an acquired taste but I don’t think I want to acquire the taste!
Dinner was good and the owner very friendly. Afterward, we returned to the hotel to get our cameras to do some night shooting at the Piazza San Marcos and photograph the lights on the water. We had to use our tripods for the long exposures. It was fun and I learned a lot and it was really good practice.
Guess that is it for the first two days of my adventures in Venice. I am getting behind in my writing as we are kept very busy taking photos and seeing the sights and uploading photos and all that goes along with it.