Il mio compleanno… arrivederci Treviso, bonasera Venice!

Well today is officially “il mio compleanno”!  Lots of nice phone calls and emails to remind me I’m a year older! And then most excitingly for Graeme …Coco Pops on the menu for breakfast at Il Focolare. You know when that happens it’s just going to be a good day!

We are reluctant to leave our lovely little hotel and Treviso.  Such a lovely town.  So understated.  Totally charming.   This morning’s plan is to continue our exploration of the city and head to Venice after lunch.  Even though it’s starting to rain fairly consistently, armed with our hotel’s umbrella we are still having a ball exploring the streets of Treviso.

More lovely city-scapes, shops, pasticcerie and “saldi” shop signs pass us by as we stroll  …..and then disaster…I saw the boots in the window.  “Is the shop open?”…”yes, the stylish lady talking to her friend on the street outside has noticed our interest”…”she’s unlocking the shop”… …the tension is building!   “Does she speak English?”  “Will she have my size….?”

More boot disappointment
More boot disappointment in Treviso.

Alas, yes and no!  Yes!  The lovely shop owner speaks wonderful English but NO!  The gorgeous Italian made boots that I lusted after are just half a size too small.  I wiggled and wiggled my toes!   I paced the shop.  I psychologically willed my obstreperous feet to shrink in size.  But Mio Dio!  “Stivali Italiani non devono essere!!!”

Giving up on the shopping we enjoyed a quick lunch in Treviso, picked up our bags from Il Focolare and ….swam to Gino.  The heavens had opened and we were almost completely soaked through by the time we walked the short distance to our car parking spot.  But no matter, we are now on our way to Venice.

Arriving at the massive parking tower for Venice, we somehow managed to figure out the transport system and get ourselves onto a Vaporetta bound for San Marco.    The rain stopped and the sun shone with a rainbow in the distance.  An auspicious start to our Venice visit.

Landing in San Marco square we had a short walk to Hotel Ala, our home for the next 3 nights.   Using Google Maps we managed to navigate our way through the narrow Venetian passage-ways to our Hotel.  An older hotel, we weren’t expecting too much, but we were pleasantly surprised by the size and fantastic location of our room.  We are over-looking one of the main gondolier routes.   But when you closed the triple glazed windows, you couldn’t hear any street noise.  The bed was also deliciously comfortable.  We will be very comfortable here for the next three nights.  Many thanks to sister, Amanda for her recommendation.

It’s been 39 years since Graeme visited Venice with his friend Ralf and 27 years for me. Really? Are we that old? Both of us have only vague recollections of our previous time here. We both visited Venice in winter which meant that although there were tourists, neither of us recall a “crush”of people.

However our first impression as we landed at San Marco was that Beijing had made a take-over offer for Venice! But as we wandered further away from San Marco square and the glamorous shopping district, the crowds of tourists lessened considerably. As the afternoon wore on we lost ourselves in the confusing maze of narrow lane-ways and just enjoyed soaking up the sounds and sights of Venice.

In hindsight, we probably should have thought to ask the hotel for a city map, before venturing out into the Venice maze.  Google Maps struggles here.  The streets are so narrow that there’s really not enough sky for the satellite to accurately pin-point your location.   Google also seems confuse street names here?   I think some street names are duplicated in different parts of the city?    It was really funny to see so many tourists like us, hunched over their phones with their faces illuminated by their screens as dusk fell.   Whilst wandering the streets and basking in the glow of our mobile phone, we’d seen a poster advertising a pre-dinner jazz concert at the nearby Bauer Hotel – a swanky 5 star hotel on the Grand Canal.   Somehow by a mixture of luck and Gra’s superior navigation skills we found our way back to our hotel for a quick change before heading out to the jazz concert.  Here’s a little clip of the performance.

Jazz at the "Bauer"
Jazz at the “Bauer”

What an amazing day!  Morning in Treviso, afternoon in Venice, jazz concert and then a light seafood meal at a restaurant on the way home.

Yes, Venice is seriously touristy…but it’s unique.  Crumbling, a little smelly in places, not that friendly….but it remains an incredibly special place and somehow it just draws you in.

We’ve booked a free guided tour of the city tomorrow morning and then we’ll just “wing it” for the afternoon and see what happens.   My birthday present from Graeme is a gondola ride.  When I was here 27 years ago I couldn’t afford to do one….so I guess some things have changed.  We’ll  do some research and find ourselves a friendly gondolier to take us exploring through the waterways.

 

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