Europe 2012: Day 64, Florence to Venice

Venice Train Station (Italy)

Thursday, 8/8/2012

Woke up at 7am.   It is sunny and hot.  Another day over 100 degrees is forecasted.  But today we travel to Venice where it is supposed to be a few degrees cooler.  At this point, I will take any cool weather I can get!

We leave for the train station as 9:30am to catch out 10am train to Venice.   We arrive with 10 minutes to spare, plenty of time to find our car and settle in our reserved seats.   The train leaves on time and the ride is uneventful – except that the air conditioning was not working.   Still, I made the best use of my time as I could —   I sorted through some pictures on the laptop.  So far, I have taken over 4000 pictures – can you believe it!  My DH listens to music off the Kindle.

We arrive in Venice shortly after noon.   The sun is shining and initially, the temperature does not seem all that bad.  But as we drag our luggage through the crowded street, with every step I can tell it is going to be another hot day.

On route to our hotel in Venice, Italy.

We find our B&B, easy enough.    The sisters who own this B&B are nice and provide us with a map and a lunch recommendation –  “clean with a good price”, she says with the emphasis on “clean”.   Our room will not be ready for another hour so we leave our bags and go to lunch at the recommended self-service restaurant over the bridge and down the street.

FYI — I hesitate to tell you the name of our hotel (even though it is lovely and comfortable and fairly close to the train station) because we overheard one sister say to the other sister that the “Mafia” stopped by that morning to collect their “payment.”  I find that a bit disturbing, don’t you?

Lunch was OK.   The self-service restaurant (similar to a cafeteria) was nice enough and the food selection good.  But the pasta was a bit under cooked and the sauces a bit tasteless.   The mozzarella and ham salad was good, however.  But, as she said, the palace was clean and the prices were good.

Beck Restaurant — our first meal in Venice, Italy.

At 2pm, we go back to our B&B and settle into the room.   The air-conditioner works and so does the WiFi – yippy!  Since we are in Venice for only two nights, we feel compelled to start our visit here immediately!   Both my DH and I have been to Venice before (September of 2007 to be exact) so we know where to go, where the action is at, St. Mark’s Square.   We consult our map and we are off!

As we walk our way through the maze that is Venice, we realize just how really hot it is.   The heat is only made worst by the fact that there are so many people here!   The closer we get to St. Mark’s Square, the thicker the crowd gets, the faster the heat seems to rise.

Venice street by the hotel.

Venice street crowd off the Rialto Bridge. (Venice, Italy)

The crowd approaching St. Mark’s Square.  (Venice, Italy)

The crowd at Piazza San Marco, or St Mark’s Square as it is known in English. (Venice, Italy)

Lots of people…

By the time we reach the square, we realize what a mistake me made.  Thousands of people!  Young and old.  Strollers and dogs.  Mobs of tour groups moving like groups of ducks criss-crossing the square looking for shade.  Everyone is  dopey from the heat.   There are just too many people pushing and shoving and standing in the way.   Today Venice is not a tourist destination, it is a refugee camp!

My DH is feeling the heat.  Like every one else, he is looking for shade for relief.   The only seating available at the square are the tables and chairs in front of the restaurants.  Here, you will need to pay 3 Euros each (cover charge) for the privilege to sit and bake in the sun – before you order food or drink.   Needless to say, this small sea of pretty tables is virtually unused.  Like everyone else, we find a shady spot on the stone steps that frame the square.   My DH gets comfy and takes out the Kindle.  I step out into the sun to takes some pictures of the square.

…we found some shade!

When I return to my DH 15 minutes later, he is standing in the shade waiting for me.   Apparently, shortly after I left, he was informed by a young lady in an official uniform that he could not sit on the steps.   She suggested he sit at one of the expensive tables sitting on the hot tarmac.   My DH tells me that she went around the square informing other people of the same – “you can’t sit on the steps” translates into “sit at the expensive tables where you can drain our vacation budget AND bake your brains out both at the same time!”   My DH said he watched as this young women told a man with is screaming toddler to “move along” and he looked like he was going to cry.

Empty tables in St. Mark’s Square, Venice. The “cover charge” is 3 Euros per person — that is before you order your over-priced food.

Of course, we move along as a whole bunch of new tourists sit on the steps.

We move down a few more narrow streets to a church where we stop to get out of the sun.   The church is shade but it is no relief from the heat.  We pull out the map and survey it to determine that fastest and least crowded way out of the St. Mark’s Square area.  We decide to find someplace to grab a bite to eat and get a cool drink.   After a while, to venture out again, this time we avoid the crowds and use the back streets.

What a smart idea!   The shade is cool between the old stone buildings.   These streets are less crowded and we feel better almost immediately.   We find what seems to be a nice place, take a table inside the air-conditioned dining room and order a pizza and cold bottled water.   I also order a cocktail made with Campari – a bright orange bitter orange liquor that popular throughout Italy and is usually mixed with white wine or vodka.   The pizza was good, the cocktail was better! 

Pizza with mushrooms!

Campari Cocktail, cool and refreshing! I love the color!

Also, there was no cover charge!

After about an hour, we are both feeling better.    Following our plan, we find our way back to our B&B without too much trouble or crowds.  The air-conditioner in our room is on and it feels wonderful!   My DH falls asleep and I work on the blog.

Around 10pm we went out for a walk.   It was cool with a slight breeze.  It began to sprinkle as the skies darken.   The rain feels good and it holds the promise of a better tomorrow.

Quote of the day:  “If the city of Venice can’t pony up for some public seating in their precious square, than the faster it sinks into the ocean, the better!”  — Anna ranting to no one in particular.   I blame the heat.


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