Like Pisa and Florence before it, Venice gets off to a rocky start. Not a good omen considering that we have spent hours getting here and are meant to leave today. It is unbearably hot, sticky and absolutely crawling with people. We set off on foot into the city, unimpressed that in order to pee you need to spend 1 euro per person. I am going to get on a soap box here, but I take offence to this. Venice is a destination city. If you find yourself on her shores you are more than likely a tourist with no bathroom at your disposal. You are also without a doubt spending money and lots of it. Of all the places we have been, this city also charges you for a map in the tourist offices. It’s like the entire city has a cup out on the sidewalk looking for change. But I digress. And of course my kids need to pee.
On principal I refuse to pay for a map. This proves to be a bad decision as this town is a riot of intertwining streets and bridges that even the most efficient tracker would have problems with. No matter. We wander about for a bit, looking for gelato (of course) and coke (of course) and finally decide that if we have any hope of getting a sense of this place we need to get off the streets and onto the water.
Negotiating a boat tour is another matter. I approach a man who speaks English and is standing on a lovely boat (I don’t think I have mentioned this yet, but I have a new love in watercraft as well and it is the Venetian water taxi. Before we left on this trip I had been combing boating sites in North America trying to source one and they are very hard to find on our side of the world). Anyway, things are looking good and then he makes a call on his cell phone and a man across the canal in a beat up boat starts his engine and prepares to collect us. No thank you. If I am going to tour around Venice in a water taxi, it’s going to a nice one thank you very much. This is a beautiful example of a water taxi. This driver wouldn’t even speak to us – I think that he was dispatched from a spendy hotel to fetch some well heeled clients…
We finally secure a boat, spend a hour on the water, wash away all of the tension of the day and regard the spectacle of the city.
And finally, for all the ladies out there, this was our driver 🙂
PS – when we went to the train station to find a place to pee, the Orient Express was on the track right beside us. It was cool to see it in person.