It has been a while since I posted the last installment of last year’s cruise holiday – I have excuses: I’ve been busy and I bought a new computer, so had to get it all set up again. The main reason, though, is I just haven’t got around to it. I am determined to finish this mammoth task however, so I persevere, and what better way to spend a wet Bank Holiday Monday than to reminisce about my last holiday.
We had been looking forward to Venice. My wife and I had been before briefly, on a day-trip from Croatia when we were there on holiday there a few years ago. On that occasion, because we only had a few hours, we rushed around like loons taking pictures. This time we thought we would do things at a more relaxed pace: enjoy the ambiance and, perhaps, spend time to visit some of the sites in more detail.
Arriving by ship is a great experience – definitely one of the benefits of a cruise. Stood on deck, with cocktail in hand, you can watch the majesty of Venice slowly drift past you; it is an awesome sight.
The good thing about this particular trip, although time was still relatively short, was that it was split over two days. We arrived at 2.00 pm on October 27 and were in port overnight, departing at 1 pm the following day, giving us the chance to experience Venice by night.
As we prepared to disembark from the ship you could spot the people who were going to take the sophisticated approach: they looked cool and elegant, dressed in smart linen suits and chic dresses with their sunglasses perched elegantly on their heads. Most, though, were bundled up in sensible walking shoes and cagoules with camera equipment swinging from their necks. Sad to report that I was firmly in the latter category.
We had booked up for the Venice Panorama tour, which took you around the islands by motor-launch. This was quite a good tour, giving you the opportunity to see Venice from a different angle, but toward the end it was beginning to get dark and cold and, on balance, I would have preferred to give it a miss and spend more time in Venice.
When we did finally get into Venice it was getting dark and – you guessed it – we ended up rushing around like loons taking pictures. Well, Venice looks so good at night that it would have been rude not too! We did, however, get to relax a little, enjoying a coffee in a nice, authentic looking cafe and, later, sampling the local drink, spritz, which is made from Prosecco, soda and Campari. We got this from somewhere which was half way between a bar and a pastry shop – very odd, but it had a nice vibe. We all agreed that the spritz was horrible, but it’s good to try these things – we just had to find another bar to have a cocktail to take the taste away.
We returned to the ship by shuttle boat, provided as part of the excursion, and headed to the buffet to eat, although by now it was late, so options were limited. Just as well we’d managed to get some proper local food inside us.
The next day we were up early to head back into Venice. Rather than paying $22 each for the shuttle boat we decided to be more adventurous. A short walk from the ship was a ‘people carrier’ monorail, which cost €1 and took you to the water bus station, from where you could get a water bus for €6.50. This was not only cheaper, but it allows you to arrive into Venice like a commuter, which is a much more authentic experience.
We had intended to take a water taxi to experience the canals, but it was very expensive and, because of the high water levels, they were not allowed to go through the smaller canals, so we would not have seen much more than we had from the ship and water bus, so we gave it a miss and just rushed around like loons a bit more.
We returned to the ship by the same route we had used coming out, arriving back in plenty of time to grab a cocktail and watch Venice slowly glide past again as we moved on to our next destination.