Early afternoon on Wednesday, we exited the Autostrada, paid the hefty €20 toll, and dropped off the rental car at Venice Marco Polo Airport.
After a ten minute walk on a pedestrian path, we made it to the boat terminal and purchased one-way tickets on the Alilaguna orange line (€15 each).
The first boat seemed too small for the amount of people waiting, and sure enough, we had to wait for the next.
The padded seating areas were in two long and low rooms at the waterline. Most of the windows of the boat were closed and crusted with salt, so the hour and half journey into the Grand Canal was moody and mysterious. Lovers snuggled closer together. Children stood on the seats and cheered when the boat hit waves.
The son of the woman who manages the AirBnB met us at our stop and briskly led us around streets and across scenic canal bridges to the narrow and unassuming alley of our apartment. The scenery flooded over me and I tried to take it all in. It felt a bit like the frantic scene in Amelie when she describes the little moments on the street to the blind man.
Our guide had no keys.
We waited under a vine of fragrant flowers for his mother to arrive. Thirty minutes later, she hustled up to us, opened the door, and explained every detail of the apartment in a combination of Italian and hand gestures. It’s a tiny place, dense with rooms, and well stocked with food and supplies.
Freed from our bags, we quickly started wandering.
We’re on a boat.
Waiting for the keys.
J under the fragrant vines.
Nun on a bridge.
Boat exercise belt.
Old man and the sea.
Building a temporary storage bin for a construction site.
Fixing a gondola.
Crustini and wine on the canal.
Little shoe’s big aventure.
The Dude a’boats.
Nonplussed by eye pokes.
The tough guy and his beast.
Everything is old.
Bridge of the lost children.
Outlined by light.
Another heroic dog.
Feels good to be a tourist with graffiti like this.
On our first night, we ate dinner at an average restaurant overlooking the water. I think people are willing to cut restaurants a lot of slack in this town, as they all are surrounded by beauty. We did the same.
In the dark, we strolled down the The Fondamenta delle Zattere and listened to the boat horns and water lapping up against the marble path.
On Thursday, we bought 24-hour boat passes and took long rides to Lido, Burano, and Murano islands. We subsisted on tasty and cheap bar sandwiches, coffee, and a bag of digestive cookies.
As the sun set, we explored the tourist epicenter of St. Marks Square.
We walked home and made pasta and broccoli to eat with beer and spritz.
My little bridge.
Bond villain spotted delivering helium by boat.
David Beckham as gondolier?
Swirls to Lido views.
Spritz is a popular drink here, two pre-made versions were provided in our room.
My kind of bar: empty and cheap and by a canal.
Greek cemetery island.
Burano gas pump.
Colorful back street, boy!
Woman bends over to examine her plant.
Love birds, bashful.
So many colors.
All hail our new aquatic overlords.
Something about this view feels like the wild west.
Tile name card.
Stairs of books.
An unusually empty view.
Friday morning, we woke early and took a boat to the Rialto Market before the crowds arrived. At 7:30, most of the vendors still hadn’t finished setting up. We walked around their incomplete displays of seafood and perfect vegetables. On the nearby canal, produce on pallets was unloaded by the boat-mounted crane.
At a friendly cafe, we drank cappuccinos and watched the hung-over son of a spice vendor learn how to arrange the goods.
Early morning on the Grand Canal.
Still setting up.
We are waiting for something.
Stairs of reflected light.
Swatches of wetness.
Mark and Donny wall bags.
The man in sea foam green.
Our last turn approaching the apartment.
Saturday was overcast, and we slept in as an army of ants found crumbs on the living room floor.
Around noon, we crossed the Grand Canal and walked eastward to explore the Castello neighborhood.
Tourist crowds had increased with the tides to almost dangerous levels. But the number of people dwindled to nearly none the farther east we walked.
It felt like the quiet before a zombie apocalypse. The streets were empty, the grass overgrown. Our only company was cats.
We felt tired walking back, but stopped in an even more crowded St. Marks Square. A fluttering army of pigeons were getting up close and personal with tourists, landing on their arms and heads in hopes of getting fed. One pigeon landed on my hat, but J wasn’t quick enough to get a photo.
Legs out to here.
The gondola is stalking me.
He went this way.
Ain’t nobody in east Venice.
Someone caught a church.
Weird bench, normal man.
The cat park.
Promenade on home.
We have a Code 4.
We ate dinner at bar near the apartment that overlooked a canal. The food was decently cheap and tasty (€9 per dish), but I was more happy with our isolated table and kick-ass view.
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day researching our trip, saving photos, and using up our remaining groceries.
Easter bells rang throughout the morning, and we cracked open the top of our Italian tilt-o-matic doors and windows to let in fresh air.
I made a quick trip, with headphones on, through the even thicker crowds to buy bus tickets and panini. Due to my annoyed haste, people thought I was a local.
I’ve always wanted to see Venice, and even after the first afternoon I knew there was no place like it. This city is such an interesting mix of water, crumbling buildings, bridges, boat activity, and history. The views are interesting in almost every direction, in every street and from every small bridge.
But this city has also rolled over and allowed everything real about it to get trampled over by tourists (myself included). It doesn’t feel like a place where people live, but rather an ancient amusement park staffed with Italians and toured by people just as annoying as you’d find in Disneyland.
The history is there, hidden in plain sight but only felt at unusual moments of quiet.
In the evening, we took one last walk to enjoy the views and enjoy the solitude brought by the cold wind.
Goodnight little bridge.
Goodnight little canal.
Goodnight Grand Canal.
On Monday, we wake early to leave for our next destination. The hardest part will be getting to the airport from the charming island of islands.