Monday, 25 September 2017

Today I took a train to Venice. Another iconic location that we’ve seen in many different forms of media over the years. Because of this, I almost didn’t want to go. I guess the word is “cheesy” or “over-hyped” and also because the city will be filled with tourists. But I made an effort this morning to not judge before I have a look for myself.

Again I walked to the train station (around 4,500 steps). Today I took my phone charger so I wouldn’t run down the battery before the end of the day. On the way to Venice I saw the usual small farms and we made a couple of stops along the way as well. As the train got closer to Venice, the landscape became very flat, then I saw more water as the train passed over a causeway (built just for the train) into the city of Venice. The station is next to the Grand Canal and provides an excellent gateway to the city’s boat transportation.

So many people in the station. And so many stores which made the train station seem more like a mall. But when you walk through the station to the Grand Canal, then you understand what Venice is all about. It took my mind a few minutes to understand that this is a real city (though no large buildings or skyscrapers) where people live and work next to the water. Between the canals are walkways between the buildings, so if you didn’t want to take a boat, you can walk most places. But eventually, you’ll need to get on a boat.

Pictures below were taken from the bridge over the Grand Canal (near the train station)

My pattern is to arrive somewhere, do some, but not a lot of research beforehand. I want get the “lay of the land” before committing to visiting anything in particular. Like what I recently did in Florence – just walk around for a little while and get a feel for the place.

But where to go first? Since I was hungry from not having breakfast, McDonald’s was on my mind. Guess what? Only one McDonald’s in Venice. I took the longer route to the McDonald’s so I could see more of this particular island – or in this case two islands since the Grand Canal separates the two halves. Before leaving on my walk, I purchased a two-day pass (30 Euros) to ride any of the taxi boats.

After walking around for nearly an hour, I arrived at “the” McDonald’s. Was almost difficult to find since the building codes, I expect, do not allow for the Golden Arches. While eating my two cheeseburgers, it gave me time to decide what I wanted to do next. And I decided to take a taxi boat to Murano, where some of the finest glass is made.

The main taxi boat launch is back at the station. After figuring out which boat leaves from which launch, I was on my way. I didn’t have enough time to stay on the island, but I knew that this was one of my main interests while visiting Venice. I will return tomorrow.

Enjoyed the light breeze as the taxi boat (which I guess can carry about 50 people above and below deck) traveled down the Grand Canal into the Venetian Lagoon towards Murano. The trip lasted less than 20 minutes, but gave us on the boat a break from the busy city and time to enjoy the surrounding waters of Venice. The three pictures below show where Venice is located in Italy, the larger picture of Venice and the surrounding islands, and then the city of Venice (showing the location of the one, and only one, McDonald’s).

Location of the One McDonald’s Restaurant in VeniceĀ 

When we were let off the boat at Murano, everyone headed in different directions. There was a guy as we disembarked who pointed out the direction of a glass factory, an interest of mine. I had seen glass blowing before and found it fascinating. Along the way to the glass factory there were a few cats walking around near some of the homes. I realized that this small island is very safe for them because there are no cars or predictors and they can freely roam around.

I had thought that the one factory that was open for visitors would be crowded, but it wasn’t. Now that I know where it is, and after walking around for 30 minutes, I can return tomorrow and allow more time for a longer visit. Before I left to meet the next taxi, I thought: Wouldn’t this be a great place to live? Very peaceful and quiet, but with (fairly) easy access to a larger city and transportation to the rest of the world. Milan, a central transportation hub in Europe, is only about a three hour train ride from Venice. For some reason, the idea of being around water, on an island, in a town where many of the people are in the business of making glass.

View from Boat Returning from Murano

Was thinking about staying longer, but when the taxi boat got back to the train station area, I had enough for one day and didn’t upgrade my ticket to stay longer. Just had enough time to make a reservation for a small (no more than 6 people) guided tour of the Grand Canal for tomorrow.

The weather today was perfect. Partly cloudy, slight breeze, and just warm enough to wear a light coat, or not. Before I left, as I was entering the train station, I saw the look on people’s faces as then came out of the train station and saw Venice for the first time. The look in their eyes I guess was like mine when I saw it for the first time as well. For me, it almost looked like some dream that Disney created. Who would ever think about building a city in the water?

I road back on the train to Bologna with a smile on my face – feeling glad I’m visiting Venice when I am. When I got back home, I sent a note to friends Clayton and Stacy, who had visited Venice only a few weeks ago, for their recommendations. Looking forward to Day 2 of Venice.

17,354 Steps Today

 

 

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