From Pesaro to Venice
A taxi takes us to the railway station. The driver knows some German words, and the trip costs "sieben" Euro. He is obviously proud of his ability to communicate in German, and I don't have the heart to tell him that we are Danish.
On the train two men obediently move from our window seats. A couple of stations later they must leave the compartment. We're happy to have reservations.
The furry man next to Helle has a breath like mustard gas. He goes to the toilet and changes from T-shirt and shorts to shirt and trousers. The breath remains unchanged.
The train arrives to Venezia San Lucia at three. Venice has an efficient tourist industry. At the station it costs 0.7 € to visit the toilet. At Pesaro's station it was free. There is a ticket office for the water buses outside the station. I buy two 72 hours passes, and we get on vaporetto #1 to San Silvestro by the Grand Canal. It is only a short walk to the hotel, Ca' Arco Antico.
The hotel rooms have artists' names instead of numbers. Three years ago we stayed in "Tiepolo", and this time we're in "Tiziano". The room has golden tapestry and a nice bathroom. The air cooler is put to work immediately.
We stroll to the small square before San Tomà and have a spritz at Ciak. The clientele is international; to our right Americans drink beer, in front Venetians drink beer and to the left two Danish women talk about taking someone to court.
To St. Mark's Square via Canal Grande
We get on a #1 and sail on the Grand Canal to St. Mark's Square. The afternoon sun shines on the basilica's front and makes the gold glow. Twice I am asked to take pictures of smiling American families; I use their disposable cameras.
There are thousands of pigeons and they smell. The orchestra in white jackets plays in front of Florians, but there are no guests outside. A seagull sits on the winged lion's head. In a shop window with gold and silver a sign says: "Special Prices" - ambiguous.
Click for larger image
Back to San Polo
We sail to San Tomà and go to ristorante Il Giardinetto on Fondamenta del Forner, where we dined several times in 2004. We make a reservation for nine o'clock and go to Bar ai Nomboli where you can sit outside.
This is a good spot for watching. Tourists pass by reading maps, trying to find their way through the maze. Locals return home with shopping bags and say: "Ciao Francesco" to the landlord in the doorway. A tourist couple comes dragging their suitcases. He is heavyset, and his grey T-shirt is drenched.
They turn the corner and then return looking lost. The girl asks Francesco if he knows where they can find Hotel Alex. Francesco explains that they must turn right, right and then left. Four workers get a quick drink by the bar and leave.
At half past eight I sense closing activity and ask Francesco when they close. They are in fact closing now, he says, but we can take it easy.
Supper at Il Giardinetto
At Il Giardinetto's we get a table under the fig tree and order a cold fish plate for starters - one portion for two ("uno per due"). For main course Helle orders Venetian baccalà and I liver ("fegato") Venetian style.
The waiter's handheld computer doesn't know Venetian baccalà, and fegato is only Wednesdays (or whatever). However Helle can have baccalà with tomato and polenta. She accepts, and my plan B is a bistecca with fries. With this a vernaccia from San Gimignano.
The fish dish arrives, and I have to ask for two more plates - we don't want to share like The Lady and the Tramp. The food is alright, although a third of the steak is sinew. Helle's baccalà is good.
Service has gone from good to worse since 2004 (new staff). In 2004 they had birds singing in a cage, but now pop/rock leave the loudspeakers like acoustic dum-dum bullets.
Two women sit down at the next table. The waiter asks: "Eat or drink?". They answer: "Eat" after which he says the kitchen is closed.
They get grissini and wine for comfort and are surprised when a fig drops right next to them. We all laugh. "You asked for food!", says Helle. They are in an orchestra and have a bad conscience because they are drinking wine, but what to do when the kitchen is closed?