Date: *Monday 25th May
- Lat:* 45 deg. 26.2 min. N *Long: *12 deg. 18.7 min. W
- Weather: *Some high cloud on arrival, sunny the rest of day 21c
- Position: *Latitude 45deg. 26.2 min. N Longitude 12 deg. 18.7 min. E
We were up early to see ourselves arrive into one of the most beautiful cities in the world from a cruising point of view, this is one of the most spectacular arrivals you could imagine. It was an early start 7.30 am, we were not ready for the whole day yet, just a quick dash out of bed and out onto Promenade deck so as not to miss a thing. We had just passed the new flood defences which will protect the city from future flooding, it will work on the same principle as the Thames barrier, when a high tide is predicted the barrier is then closed. (These flood defences are not complete yet, but well under way). The weather was pleasant with some high cloud, and everything seemed quite still, in the distance the sun was catching the top of some snow- capped mountains. Being low tide, some parts of the lagoon were quite shallow, and on one of the mud banks some local fishermen were up to their knees in the water, and we found out later, they were after Clams.
With the assistance of a pilot our sail in is a quiet slow affair, with the occasional motor taxi or vaporetto (they are their water buses) going by. We then passed a park, with occasional joggers on the tow path. The sky line of the city with its many bell towers now in full view, we started to see much more boat traffic all scurrying around. As we neared St Mark’s square the waterfront properties with their different colours were all looking resplendent, another thing that catches your eye is the little side canals leading off into the back waters of the city, all with their low arched bridges.
We`re now level with the bottom of the grand canal with the sights of the “Doges Palace”, “Bridge of Sighs”, “ St Mark`s square” the bell tower of the “Campanile di San Marco” all in full view, and your inner excitement thinking you`ll be in amongst all these fabulous places soon.
Our berth was at what they call their Maritime Harbour, there are enough spaces for four large cruise ships, when we arrived we were the second ship, a Thompson was already berthed, and later a German ship came in. To get into our berth the ship needs to turn at right angles to the passing canal, to complete this operation we were assisted by two tugs.
With breakfast over, and our bags packed for the day`s events, we made our way ashore. Again it’s a thing we like doing on our own and finding out what the city has to offer. From the cruise terminal we made our way to the overhead Mono-rail, which is a fully automated service running between the Tronchetto car park and Piazzale Roma with the cruise terminal in between. We like using the Vaporetto water buses, and we brought a 24 hour ticket, (on a previous visits a 12 hour ticket was available) so we could go anywhere in Venice or the surrounding islands where these Vaporettos run. But one of the first routes on a “No 1 vaporetto” we take is down the Grand Canal to either the Rialto bridge, the Accademia bridge or St Mark`s square, but you can be sure all of these places will be visited at some time during the day. But for this visit we wanted to see what is known as the “Arsenale”.It was the greatest shipyard in the world, for 700 years before Napoleon the republics galleys and galleons were being built here, and they were the first to use a conveyor belt system or mass production as we know it. These 16,000 masters and builders were highly respected citizens in there day. But sadly, all that is left is these days is the façade of the entrance to the dockyard and an open water space. There was a naval museum near- by, so it was a photo shoot and back to the waterfront where we hopped onto the next vaporetto to the Accademia bridge, for the purpose of stopping for some lunch. As we`ve been to Venice a few times we always use the same restaurant because of its proximity to the bridge . This bridge is a wooden one and well used, because a lot of the popular sights are within easy reach of it. Also on this trip we have noticed on some the waterfront bridges that they have wheelchair access ramps on them, giving the disabled some limited access to the city.
Our lunch was a pizza each with a side salad and a soft drink, this was eaten at a leisurely pace. And we were able to use some the free WIFI as well. Off on our travels again taking the walking route to St Marks square. Every major sight is very well sign posted even in the smallest of alleyways so it`s impossible to get lost. There were masses of people, but it all adds to the atmosphere. We never cease to be amazed by all the wonderful buildings everywhere. To get out of the heat we used the covered walkway which surrounds St Marks square, milling with every nation under the sun. We were now following the signs to take us back to the Rialto bridge, again we were on one of the most popular routes between two major sights. The Rialto bridge along with part of the Basilica in St. Marks square is partly covered with scaffold, this seems to happen a lot these days, but these fine buildings must be persevered.
We were now making our way back to our ship, we picked up the vaporetto for the Piazzale Roma from the Rialto bridge, and the water buses were still as busy as they were when arrived in the morning, but still it all added to the fabulous day we had just experienced. So for us it was the reverse route from the morning run, the mono-rail then the walk to the ship. Our stay in Venice was an extended one because we did not have to be back on board until 10.30pm, some passengers took the opportunity to have an evening ashore but we declined.
Always a little sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, but with the impressions of what we had seen that day very fresh in our minds, you can only feel good inside. *Thank you Venice for a great day!!*
Now to our next port of “Koper” in Slovenia which is only a short distance away so we had leisurely overnight sail.