Venice Italy, the start of the Croatian coach tour.

Venice, Italy…the first stop on our recent coach tour…
This destination was a first for me,and the beginning of a cultural overload that would last
for almost two weeks.
It is difficult NOT to be overwhelmed when dwarfed
 by a building like the Basilica di San Marco.
The reception of our hotel in Mestre.
Hotel Venezia, old school check-in, with actual room keys rather than plastic access cards.
Staying in Venice is prohibitively expensive, but this hotel, on Mestre, suited our needs perfectly.
The bus ride into the city was about 15 minutes and the bus-stop was 3 minutes from the hotel.

Unlike South Africa, cycle lanes can be found everywhere…as can cyclists of all ages.
Most of the bicycles that I saw were old style and not the ultra modern type.
Tourists need to be aware of the fact that cycles are coming at you from the “wrong” direction.
I was shouted at on more than one occasion for standing in the lane to take a photograph

Scooters also feature prominently in the day to day traffic.
I suppose that Vespa has a lot to do with that.
In many countries that brand is seen as a status symbol or a collectable,
here they are used for everyday transport.
In addition to the 30% on offer, there was a variety of street entertainment,
no doubt to entice the shoppers to visit the various stores and eateries.
From music to acrobatics…and a lot more in between.
My wife and I strolled the streets around our hotel taking in the sights, sounds, and smells
of what was on offer. And seeing that it only got dark after 21h00, 
we could enjoy the open air market as well.

Our first view of Venice as we stepped off the bus.
We have all seen the canals on TV or in a movie, 
but to actually be standing here was hard to believe.
The word “gob-smacked” comes to mind when trying
 to describe what was unfolding in front of us.

This is what a Venetian traffic jam looks like.
Amazingly I saw no accidents, neither did I hear any voices raised in anger.
Although I am almost certain that both do occur.

My wife and I tried to keep to the back streets 
where we could be away from the tourist hordes.
Getting lost is not a problem as the locals will give you directions,
and the town is actually very small and easily navigated with the aid of a map.

These windows caught my attention.
The flowers that I thought were plastic, were real 
and added to the ambience of the streets that we wandered along.

A gondola ride is very expensive…between R1200.00 and R1500.00 depending on the time of day.
The gondoliers that we did see looked disinterested 
and were more involved with their mobile phones than paying customers.
Some of our tour party that did go for a ride and discovered that first hand.
I bought my wife a glass gondola with two small hearts as a memento instead. 

Washing is hung on lines that work on a pulley system and strung between buildings .
As we were to discover in every city and town that we visited.

The populace is diverse as we were to discover.
The fellow in the turban, together with the lady (with her back to the camera)
were selling hand-made jewellery in one of the many small squares we discovered.
Later we sat here having pizza and gelato ice cream for dinner. 

By looking straight in front or to the sides you will only see some of what is on offer.
Cast your eyes skywards and a whole new vista is revealed.
While looking at the intricate architecture, keep an eye open for pick-pockets.
We were told that these gangs have taken that age old “trick”
and turned it into an art form.
Luckily none of the group that we toured with experienced this phenomenon first hand

Even the window latches are beautiful, but are probably not seen by the majority of tourists.
While listening to one of the local tour guides my attention was distracted by this one

I was under the impression that this was a painting…how wrong I was!
It is a mosaic…each piece placed by hand. The artisans and artists back “in-the-day”
had a pride in their work that is lacking in modern buildings.
The Basilica was built in 1063
How many modern building will still be standing centuries from now…probably none
I am not usually at a loss for words,
but when I stepped into the square for the first time I was speechless.
If you suffer from enochlophobia, a fear of crowds, then this is certainly NOT the place to be.
Do you have a phobia about selfie sticks, then you should not be here either.
You can buy them from vendors in the square at a cost of R45.00,
much cheaper than back in South Africa.

Proper Gelato ice-cream.
In flavours that I had never tasted before, like lavender.
I quickly decided that pistachio was my flavour of choice.

Any reader keen to take a stab at this “maths problem”.
We discovered it on a walk to the Jewish Ghetto
Answers on a postcard please…

I do believe that if the Italians did not invent the pavement society,
they certainly had a hand in perfecting it.
The guy in the striped shirt is a gondolier, not a mime artist.

The mask was an early birthday present for me.
We found this in a shop called La Pietra Filosofale,
that made leather and papier-mache masks.
We had found one earlier in the day, but it was too expensive.
We had to wait for this fellow to open his shop post siesta,
but we did save €35!

Scalzi Church…
Just one of the many churches that we visited during our stay in Venice.
We happened upon this one by accident as we were heading to the Jewish Ghetto.
Once inside we discovered that they were hosting a Murano Glass Easter exhibition.
If you are going to be in Venice before July 16, 2017 pay it a visit.
A final moment in Venice
and a special one for my wife…
We share a moment at the “Bridge of Sighs”
Goodbye to Venice, we will always have fond memories of our time here.
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