Venice on Foot: San Marco

If Venice on the canals was chaotic — on land was far worse! We were woefully short on research and needed to find directions to our departure point for the ferry that went up the Grand Canal to the airport. The Italians are hopeless at directions.

The ticket officer for the ferry line we were using sent us in totally the wrong direction. She sent us back into St Marks square — over the narrow canal bridge and into the hordes of tourists which flock here in the summer.

All of my senses were telling me we were going in the wrong direction and Mr P had to agree with me that something was wrong when I fished out our basic map and said we should be going that way not this way.

I took refuge from the heat of the sun under the arches of the Doges Palace while Mr P went off in search of someone who knew their way around and to get us some sensible directions.

As you can see, I was not the only person hiding from the heat!

After my experiences, in Vienna I almost automatically found myself looking up — the view did not disappoint and gives a good indication of how narrow some of the spaces in Venice are.

This next picture is the most accidental photograph of a worldwide landmark ever taken. I thought I would go down to the canals edge and photograph up the canal alongside the Doges Palace.

Like the English woman I am, I dutifully waited in line to let a large family with several children each have their photographs taken leaning out from the pillars into the canal. I thought nothing more of it at the time.

Yesterday, when I am looking at the layout of St Mark’s Square to make sure I get all my names and spellings correct I note with great surprise that I did see the Bridge of Sighs and not only that — I had a photograph of it to boot — all without realizing it!

Meanwhile, Mr P returned and confirmed we were going to wrong way — time to run the gauntlet of St Marks Square again but not before I managed to catch this detail from one of the columns.

The symbol of Venice — the winged lion is everywhere — this one is on top of the San Marco column in Mark’s Square.

One last look back at St Mark’s bell tower before we ask the local policeman how to get to our next boarding point.

He confirmed we had been sent in the wrong direction and explained in broken English and a lot of gestures that our boarding pier was about a 100 yards down the main canal in the other direction, but to get into it we had to go inland and cross over the adjoining canal and back down to the main canal. Yes we had to do three sides of a square — something that often happens when one of the streets is a waterway and not a street at all.

We decided to fuel ourselves before starting off on the unbeaten track — no visit to Venice is complete without an ice cream.

11 comments

  • I’m so glad you were able to find shade!

    Love the up-close architecture shots! Divine!

    Best line in the story — “three sides of a square” — a perfect description of a confusing moment!

    I want some ice cream!

    • It was sweltering and of course humid too because of the water – I was very glad of the hat!

      I think I am going to have to try and find a map of the route we took – that is part of the craziness of Venice – and just thinking about it now I am sure there was a municipal ferry that would have taken us for a couple of euros to where we needed to be – but we would have missed all the fun!

      Their ices creams are particularly good.

      • I would love to see a map of the route you had to take! I can imagine trying to wend your way on your own would be utterly confusing, especially if the locals are not great at helping understand where to go and how to get there.

        I read somewhere that around 90% of people born and raised in NYC haven’t visited the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and they have no plans to do so. The reason seems to be because since they are locals, they have no interest in the tourist traps that will easily cost them at least three hours out of their day. So, they prefer to just not go…

        I’ve been to the landmarks — when I was visiting! Never been there since I moved to NYC. Janna, on the other hand, loves all the touristy things and whenever anyone from out of town visits us, she’s delighted to be the tour guide time and time again. She loves standing in the heat for three hours waiting to tour the Statue of Liberty. It never gets old for her.

        • HA – I would too! Just spent the last half hour on Google maps trying to work it out – but I think I have it now! We were hopelessly unprepared to wind our way around the streets of Venice.

          I like to do my local sights – but remember I love in wide open spaces and my sights now involve beaches, restaurants and a concert tor two and if you are lucky a trip to Sines or Beja.

          Next week I have a very special trip lined up – I have been invited to our neighbors, the parents of our landlord – ie the bread lady so I can see her garden and her bread!

          I have visited NYC a couple of times …… I have “done” the Empire State Building and Times Square and some other rather more dubious landmarks and flown past the statue of Liberty.

          I have to say after this latest trip in Europe I do think I ought to travel around Europe more – I have a dilemma – if I can, do I do the far off places now while I am relatively fit and Europe later – or start local and work outwards – or just go with the flow and take each opportunity as it comes.

          • I also tried to look into Google mapping — but only found “Google Map Maker” — which appears to want me to add places and streets to their local maps for my city. I gave up trying to trace a route! SMILE! Glad you seem to have figured it out.

            Ooo! A visit to the bread lady! Bring lots of bags and fill them up with fresh bread! Sounds like a most excellent trip.

            I always like having a plan, but oftentimes the best opportunities are tangentially presented — and the trick for me is to know the difference. I have learned that having things presented to me tends to work out really well in the end — if I can get out of the stasis of my plan-mapping and mind melding. SMILE!

  • @David – I had hoped to use Google earth or Google maps to do the mapping – but it was not going to play ball – in the end I have used another map and very crudely added our route. I could not use the trace function in Google earth or Google maps …..shrugs.

    Yes the bread lady ! They have quite a garden where they are and another house and garden down by the river – also they have access to the waterfall – hopefully once introduced we can go on a second trip down to the river and take in the waterfall.

    I like to have a plan – in fact we have a list of places we want to visit – some in Portugal and some outside of Portugal – we have chosen one outside of Portugal each year so far – which have combined several of our loves and interests.

    We are also open to opportunity if it beckons …… such as Venice – but when we take those opportunities we must research more to get the most out of them !

    • I think it is grand you have a plan for things you want to do and places you want to visit. Too many of us just whistle and dream about the things we want to see and do before time takes us over.

  • Pingback: Venice on Foot: The Backstreets « Boles Blogs

  • I have learnt to – its a bit like DIM – do it myself – rather than wait for it to be done – I have to do my part to make it happen.

  • Pingback: Venice Grand Finale: The Grand Canal « Boles Blogs

  • Pingback: Mask City: Venice in Retrospect « Boles Blogs

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