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VeniceSeptember 26, 2006

We traveled from Belgium to Venice on RyanAir, which shall hereafter be known as the Greyhound of Europe. Lala mentioned that she knew in her head that it was a plane, but later, when she thought of it, she saw a bus station. It’s true, they herded us like cattle (SO much worse than Southwest) and crammed us in, and made us check our catapults (the nerve!):


But, you know what? It’s cheap and it got us there. We flew into Treviso, and we were still so far away from our destination….. By that time we’d been on a shuttlebus, two planes, two trains, one bus, another plane, and we still had another bus and a boat to look forward to. All in one 35-hour day. Thank god for my nap.

When the bus pulled in at P.leRoma in Venice, it was about ten at night and raining. We got a good little drenching as we walked to the vaporetto (bus-boat) that would take us to our hotel. Lala doesn’t remember this part at all, and was surprised when I told her about it the next day. Venice on a Sunday night is usually rolled up tight. Our food options were limited -- I really didn't want to subject us to a long sit-down dinner, but quick food at that hour can be hard to find. We dropped our bags in the hotel (Hotel Bernardi-Semenzato, my favorite place), and I marched Lala out again. What a trooper she was. We found pizza and beer and took it to sit by the canal near S.Santo Apostoli, an illegal little night picnic, which made it that much nicer.

The rain had stopped, but the canals were still slap-slapping with waves. We ate, and then we made the short walk to the Rialto, where I said hello to my city, and we kissed over the water.

The next morning, after an amazing sleep, we woke to patchy blue skies. I took her immediately out for coffee, because I am a good wife.





I like how that middle picture above makes it very clear that roads are waterways. If you’ve never really thought about it, there are NO cars in Venice. No bicycles. No rollerblades. The only things allowed with wheels are on carts, strollers, and wheelchairs. There are narrow walkways for people, and canals for boats. That’s it. You hear the garbage boats in the morning, honking, and it sounds like being at home, except for that occasional slap of water.

We were at dinner one night, and I asked Lala what she thought of my city. She said she loved it, said all the right things, and then she paused and said, “It was kind of like meeting your best friend, me coming here. Only more important, maybe.”

It was true. Had she not liked it, had she not reacted in exactly the right way, I would have been devastated, I think. Venice means so much to me. I was introducing my two women, and hoping against hope that they got on. They did.

An illustration: in Venice, they drink a local thing called a spritz. It's made with white wine, a splash of soda water, and aperol, an orange, bittersweet alcohol (and sometimes campari, but I prefer the aperol). I told her about it, we ordered it, and the next time we sat somewhere, she suggested it. A small thing, but huge to me.

When I go to Venice, I find myself drawn to people-watching. They ARE the city, in so many ways.


Of course, sometimes the sheer gorgeousness of the city takes over and you have to take the normal tourist pictures like this (click for bigness):


There are dogs everywhere in Venice, even on the crowded vaporetti (this Westie was tucked in the luggage area up front):


Police boat:


From the Accademia, looking east:


And tell me, where would we really be without the gondoliers hawking their gondola rides?


I have never been, and will never be, rich enough to afford a ride like that. They start at about a hundred dollars, and that’s the low rate.

However, if one has the cojones for it, find a traghetto stop, which is the locals-only version of the gondola ride. It takes you across the grand canal, stopping to let taxi-drivers off boatside, if necessary. The locals stand. If you get on first, they’ll take pity on you and let you sit on the only seat.


It’s such a low-draft boat that it rocks quite wildly as the two men push it across the canal, veering between the taxis and heavily-loaded transport boats, dodging buses and other tourist gondolas. Magical and scary.

And we went across on one, for less than a dollar:


Good GOD, I was thrilled.


Some random prettiness.


Mom, recognize our red boat?



The windows could be their own city, really.


Venice ladies!


And a gent.


I am so happy.


I just liked him:


Big colored glasses are very in among the elderly Venetian ladies, and I think we could all take a tip.




We really did just wander. It was another way that Lala proved herself as magnificent traveling companion, that she was so easily able to adapt to this mode of travel. We’d walk a bit, find a coffee shop, have a coffee, watch people, talk, write, sometimes I’d knit. Nothing better, really.

Tomorrow, another Venice entry in which we encounter Art, meet the Boys, and Knit.


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What a dreamy trip! I can't wait to read about the rest of it. Glad you had an amazing time!

I love the photo of the "gent". With all my heart.

I think it's because he reminds me of my grandfather. Right down to the glasses, and that way of strolling around the neighborhood with his hands clasped behind him.

Your pictures exude joy. Breathtaking. Thanks again for sharing!

"gent" photo is great.
How wonderful trip is!

My mom and I took a traghetto ride and um, I thought I was going to die the whole time. But now that I've done it, I am so happy I did! I was clutching the shoulder of an older man so fiercely that he said, "Prego, prego, it's okay, we're at the other side now." I had to have a little drink afterwards.

Oh, and for your next trip to Venice: New York and Atlanta now have direct flights to Venice. We flew from JFK to Venice (via Detroit) for about $800 this May. We flew home Rome-Chicago.

gorgeous. i love that picture of you looking so blissed out... it says volumes.
isn't it wonderful that you and lala are such good fellow travelers? the first trip i went on with the boy i was so nervous-- what if our traveling styles clashed? what if he wanted to go-go-go and i wanted to relax? and it was perfect. i love that kind of travel, where there's walking, wandering, getting lost and found again, coffees, wine.... yum.

goregous pics!!

So wonderful to see those things and to know that they are familiar. It's almost like being there again.

I knew Lala would love, love, love it! How could she love you and not love Venice? Beautamous photos, Rachael! They're a mini-vacation for me!

awesome! you leave us wanting more.

what beautiful colors. even the ladies glasses are colorful.

What an amazing day. I am loving reading about your trip.

I am in love! I must ask for a trip to Venice as my big 6-0 birthday present.

In the picture of the two of you you look like you are so happy you just want to dance with joy. I love it ... I am enjoying th posts and pictures so much - Venice is one place I always wanted to go to. and I always thought that this time of year would be great to go. Now I know I was right.

Incredible photographs! Venice looks so great!

Thank you so much for this mini-vacation. I needed it!

Makes me want to book a trip RIGHT NOW! Beautiful. You sound so at peace.

Dude. That's a lot of water. I have this need to live near water, but I think that might be a bit much for me... but I definitely want to visit.

Oh my god, I *love* all of these photos! It looks just so amazing, and I'm so happy that your two ladies got along so well.

I just read your 2 posts, and I have to tell you that I enjoyed your travelogue immensely. In no particular order I love the windows, the cathedral, the beer, and the nap. I have a good friend who lives in Brussels and she has invited me to visit, tempting me with photos much like yours. Someday...

Anyhow, welcome home!

I've wanted to go to Venice as long as I can remember. Love the pictures. You've got me thisclose to packing my bags and running away.

Ohff. Those photo's took my breath away. Ex-quis-ite. You and La are exuding warmth and joy. Thank you for sharing with us. I gotta go get me some big aqua blue glasses.

Wonderful, wonderful photos. Thanks so much for posting them, I needed to see something beautiful today.

Holy cow, I want to go to Venice and wear giant orange sunglasses! What a wonderful trip!

Love the photos! Especially love the gondoliers(sp?)! Very beautiful...don't tell hubby!

Since you are a knitter, and knitters read mysteries, and you've been to Venice, you'll have to start the long series of Donna Leon mysteries set in Venice.

Go here:



Delurking to squeal! That's the hotel I stay in when in Venice! I ride the tragetti instead of the gondolas, too. And go to rehearsals in St. Marks to avoid the cost/crowd of the actual concerts. And in your photo -- there's Santa Maria del Salute (or however one spells it). Big sigh. Thanks for bringing back so many happy memories...

I haven't painted in 10 years, but there was something in those pictures that makes me want to get out paints again.

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