Travelogue with photos from a holiday in Venice Italy, June 2004
Holiday in Venice, Italy
- 1st day. We arrive and explore the neighbourhood.
- 2. day. S. Mark's Square, trips to Rialto and Lido.
- 3. day. Trip to the island Murano and a visit to the local chess club.
- 4. day. The Guggenheim Museum and a visit to Antonio's.
- 5. day. Walks in Cannareggio and Castello. The worst restaurant in Venice?
- 6. day. Trip to the islands Burano and Torcello.
- 7. day. Shopping. Harry's Bar. Soccer match behind enemy lines. A wailing woman.
Tuesday June 8th we leave for Venice. The sky is clear over the Alps before we dive and land in Marco Polo airport at 13.30.
Our luggage arrives quickly, and at the Alilaguna office we pick up the Venicecards, we bought on the Internet.
A Venicecard is an unlimited ticket to drive or sail with ACTV, the local transport company.
ACTV-bus number 5 is just outside and takes us from the mainland to Piazzale Roma in Venice. Here I ask a fellow passenger for directions to Vaporetto #1, which stops at all stops along Canal Grande (the Grand Canal).
Canal Grande is the main waterway and cuts through Venice like a mirrored "S". There are no cars or bikes in Venice and you must either walk or go by boat. After 20 minutes on #1 we get off at San Silvestro, the first stop after Rialto.
In the Heart of Venice
We're in the heart of the city, in the part called San Polo, and there's but 5 minutes' walk to the hotel - if you can find it! The narrow alleys offer an instant impression of a labyrinth-like city, but even though the hotel, Ca' Arco Antica, is well hidden, we find it with no detours - just two looks on the map and some slight hesitation.
The porter at this mini-hotel with 7-8 rooms speaks excellent English. We are expected and check in is quick. The house is old and the room small, but it has charm with beams in the ceiling, terrazzo floor, golden tapestry and a nice bathroom.
The rooms don't have numbers but are named after famous Venetians. Ours is "Tiepolo", a painter born in 1696. The banister to the first floor is quite something.
It is now 4 p.m. and everything has been very smooth. The porter directs us to the nearest ATM on a small square 50 meters away, and some Euros richer we find a restaurant with tables outside and enjoy a refreshment.
On the small square a man plays classical guitar; pieces by Robert de Visé, Bach and others that I have practiced and practiced but never mastered to my own satisfaction. Now and then he also plays some more romantic pieces.
We explore the neighbourhood, which has lots of useless shops targeting only tourists, and if I don't press on, Helle's speed slows down to less than 500 metres an hour.
Some of the stuff is pretty, but there's nothing you cannot live without. It is one of the main routes to Rialto and during our stay in Venice we soon learn that the number of useful shops increase with your distance to the tourist paths.
Dinner at La Patatina
We find a small osteria, La Patatina near Ponte San Polo, where the menu displayed in the window has attractively few English words, and then go home to rest a bit. Having changed to something less casual we leave at a bit past 6.
There's only 5 minutes walk to La Patatina, which is just opening its doors. We are the first guests and it is pretty early to dine, but we haven't had a proper meal all day - the rubber roll on the plane doesn't count.
Helle orders fish soup and baccala with polenta as secondo. I order parpadelle with mushrooms and Fegato alla Venezia, liver with polenta. Along with this a carafe of the house white.
Bread and nice grissini is served immediately, but the first course arrives as late as 7.15. We're pretty sure the kitchen was unmanned until 7. Two young girls look after the guests. Their aprons are tied to low to be useful, but of course it wouldn't do to hide the bare strip of skin below the short T-shirt.
Most diners are tourists, but many locals drop in for a quick drink or a snack at the bar. The food is ok, but we're not beamed to Heaven.
Helle's baccala is boiled in milk and little taste of fish remains. My Venetian liver in wine and onion sauce is excellent, but the white polenta (maize porridge) fried on the pan is so-so. Two French ladies are seated just beside us, and when they hear our Danish gibberish they chat with no restraints.
I order coffee: "Due espressi, per favore!" and I wonder why the local dialect puts an "a" at the end when the girl repeats the order with something sounding like "spressa".
The explanation arrives as two orange drinks: spritza, which is white wine with Campari and sparkling water. I honestly think I said it right, but maybe it had been safer to ask for "café".
We get our espressi though - and with smiles - and "il conto" at 54,50 € is not expensive. As we leave I say "Bon soir" to our neighbours, and surprised they answer likewise. Their French chat was much to fast for me to understand, but how are they to know? I couldn't resist - naugthy, naugthy!
Evening and Sensor Activated Loo-light
In the velvety evening we stroll to Campo San Polo hoping for some outdoors temptation, but all activity has moved indoors - probably a local rule to insure peace and quiet in the evening.
The beer is red and sweet and not particularly refreshing. Many pizzas are served and the waitresses here have also chosen to expose bare skin and carry the apron low and useless.
I find the toilet. The light switches on automatically when I enter; there must be a movement sensor. I lock the door, prepare what it is necessary and aim carefully.
Any man knows that it is wise to keep still in that situation, but just before take-off, the light switches off. I'll be d.....! I have to let go and wave my arms to reactivate sensor and light, and this happens a few times before I manage to do what a man needs to do with full visual control. Of course I could have sat down, but you must stand up to a challenge!
Through the quiet alleys we stroll to the Rialto market. Daytime this place is teeming with life, but now everything is quiet. Canal Grande reflects the lights as we walk home to bed.