VENICE Date: 12th August 2013
Weather: Hot and sunny all day, 33c
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 6.30 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) We have been very fortunate during this holiday that the weather has been good, and that morning was no exception, with clear blue skies and with a temperature already at 27c. With the sun still quite low in the sky it was putting a warm glow onto the buildings. 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 ( 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 were 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 only ship in, but as the morning went on all of those spaces were taken, and we also passed a further cruise ship moored alongside a nearby wharf. In all there were six cruise ships in that day. 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 buy a 12 hour pass, so we could go anywhere in Venice or the surrounding islands where these Vaporettos run. But one of the first routes we take is down the Grand Canal to either the Rialto bridge, the Accademia bridge or St Marks 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 some buildings in the San Polo district of the city, this we duly found and had a look around, and then had our first Ice-cream of the day. The little narrow streets, or in some cases alleyways, are on the whole very well marked to direct you to some of the major sights, but you can quite easily take the wrong turning, we did this and found ourselves in a small square where there were some street musicians playing some classical music, we stopped a while to take in the atmosphere, a nice surprise. Retracing our route to the Grand Canal, 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. This bridge is a wooden one and well used, because a lot of the popular sights are within easy reach of it. While crossing it, we noticed on some metal rails which form a part of the handrails, there were hundreds of locked padlocks all with little messages on them, like “ Nick loves Penny”, someone is doing well by selling these padlocks!!
Our lunch was a pizza each with a side salad and a soft drink, this was eaten at a leisurely pace, as the temperature was rising as the day went on. Off on our travels again taking the vaporetto to St Marks square, when we stepped ashore, I think this is where the hottest temperature for the day was, the mid 30s centigrade. There were masses of people, we`ve never seen it so busy, 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. We bumped into two fellow passengers on their first visit to Venice, both over the moon with what they had seen and what they were experiencing.
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.
We did have a quiet hour before our sail-away. Our captain gave us the news that all the other ships in the cruise ship harbour would sail before us, so it was up onto the deck to watch those ships depart. Then it was the same route out for us, but in reverse. The sun now was in the other direction and you could see all those magnificent buildings in a different light. I try to take photos of the places we visit in the both lights, morning and afternoon, as very often you`ll get a photo from one of those occasions which will spark your memory of “that day”. Everyone, whether on a passing boat, or on the shore always seem to be very vocal, as we sailed passed them, you could hear them quite clearly, hopefully they are good wishes for our onward journey!!!
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 for some hard steaming overnight, as our next port of Dubrovnik is quite a distance. But the weather forecast was good, with light winds and flat seas, so all should be well.
Sorry for the delay in posting, as we`ve just had 3 port days in a row, and it`s finding the time to write up the blog.