The Grand Tour
Well here we are in Venice.
Allthego and Homealone are off on a ‘grand tour’. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the British went off on ‘grand tours’, as did those Europeans on the other side of the Channel. In the harsh European winters the British and others went off to the Mediteranian, or to the East; perhaps Singapore or Hong Kong. Some even went to New York! It was the thing to do. You went off to have new experiences in far away places. However, some of the young ladies were sent off to have the fruits of their experiences delivered in parts far away! So we are off to the other side of the world for 11 weeks to have new experiences too!
Venice is our first stop after leaving Brisbane. Took 23 hours all up, via Singapore and Frankfurt. Flights were without dramas, fellow passengers were civil. The food on the Singapore Airlines flight was ok, but the Lufthansa legs were lets say…average. Movies were good.
Been to Venice before, about ten years ago. Not much seems to have changed, might have sunk a little we are told. We are staying the night at the Santa Chiara Hotel beside the Grand Canal, not far from the cruise ship terminal. We get to our hotel around 11 am and have the late morning and afternoon to check out a bucket list visit to the fish markets near the Rialto bridge. This is about 4 stops down the canal from the hotel and they close around 1pm. Problem is it is Monday and they don’t operate on Monday, so we do a thorough examination of the fruit and vegetable markets before heading back to the hotel on the ferry.
After finalising check in and occupying the room we have a break for a while. The desire for sleep is strong but Allthego has booked a table for 7.30 pm at what is referred to in a Rick Stein cooking book as an authentic Venetian eating establishment, Antiche Carampane. So it is back onto the ferry and down the Grand Canal to the Rialto bridge were we get off. We have allowed just on an hour to find this place in the back street alleys of Venice as the sun is slowly setting. Homealone has deduced the route on our Venice alley map. So away we go, up an alley, down an alley, over a canal bridge around a couple of corners, back over what seemed like the same canal bridge. Had to ask a local were it was, she kindly showed us the way…….it was just around a corner. Walked in the door just on 7.30pm. Timing is everything!
Very small dining room, but very local people despite the table of noisy South Australians sitting behind us and a couple of Bostonians next to us who had also read about the place. The others seemed to be locals. Probably no more than about 30 or so all up. It is known for it’s seafood. Proudly says: “No Pizza, No Lasagna and No Touristico Menues!” After a plate of Mediteranean bits and pieces to share, Homealone had a crab pasta dish and Allthego a piece of Sea Bass. All very tasty. It was then back to the Canal through the darkened alleys to catch the ferry. Easy!
The next day we were due to book onto our cruise ship. But we still had some time on our ferry tickets, they expired at 11am. So, as it was now Tuesday off we went to see those fish markets near the Rialto bridge. What a sight! Some of the stall holders here have held their spots through several generations of fish mongers. Fish from all over the Mediteranean, North Atlantic and prawns from Argentina. A few eels and octopus etc as well.
Next stop was to be an unusual book shop, seemingly to Allthego not far from the fish markets, across the other side of the Grand Canal and down a few back alleys. Well off we went, too and fro. The map doesn’t seem to match the alley ways. But we made it. Thousands of books, postcards, photos, maps etc and other stuff, including a staircase made of them. All crammed into a little shop front and side rooms. A stocktake would be a nightmare…….….
So it was back to the ferry, Homealone had determined the route. We made it just before the 11 am ticket expiry, Saved 15 Euros!
Back at the hotel we picked up our luggage and checked in at the cruise terminal, boarded the Viking Star, had lunch, put our feet up. Later in the evening after dinner, we stood on deck as we cruised down the Venetian Lagoon out into the Adriatic. Headed for Koper in Slovenia.