So we spent the reminder of the first rest day lazing around the villa and then went down to the restaurant for dinner, the food was great. We had an antipasto platter with fresh sardines and prawns etc plus two bowls of really small snails…. I tried them, I didn’t like them.
For the main, five of us ordered a fish parcel. We had had white wine with the first course but we decided to change to red for the main. We explained this to the waitress and she disagreed with us as we were having fish, and she wanted us to have white. So we explained that this was what we wanted, all good we thought, as she nods and goes off. Then she came back and plonks the white wine on the table and says “White for fish”. We again say “No, no, we want red”. She shakes her head and says as she is walking off “White …..fish!”.
Earlier in the day John had asked at the villa we are staying at for ice-cream, there were three 3 choices – chocolate, vanilla and limoncello, so he asked or a scoop of all 3. “No, no”, he was told, “No limoncello with vanilla!”.
We received an email from another rider – who was leaving the tour in Venice and who had stayed an additional night in Venice – to say that the hotel reception had contacted her as I had left earrings and a necklace in my room, and another rider Brett had left his glasses in his room. We emailed another rider, Gen, who had stayed another night at the hotel in Lido but was moving into Venice the next day and arranged we would meet her the next day.
Lido is an island and it’s a 30 minute ferry ride each way. As Italy is currently in a heat wave, we decided to head into Venice early. The villa we were staying at is about a 40 minute bus ride and then a 15 min walk each way. Originally we had talked about having dinner in Venice with Gen and her boyfriend – who had arrived that day to join her. However the logistics of getting back to Mira and with an early start the next day, we decided against it.
So we got up early and got on the bus. We got into Venice and had a bit of a look around, lots of tiny windy streets, and canals, old buildings, churches, gondolas (water boats), shops selling masks, and murano glass (used to be called Venetian glass). As we had left early Gen had not yet replied to her email, and of course we needed Wifi to be able to email her. We wandered around for awhile looking for an Internet cafe but no luck. At one point we were standing by a sign that said “Mcdonalds – 5 minutes away”. As you probably know Mcdonalds has free Wifi. We then saw it was five min by boat (which would be 7 euro each way so we decided against it). Venice is the most expensive city so far.
We wandered up to St Marks Square and had a look at the shops. We saw a man sitting in a cafe using an iPad so went in to see, and there was free Wifi for 30 min if you were a customer . So two beers, two sandwiches, and 50 euro later, we had checked my Wifi and had an email from Gen to say what hotel they were at – the Rialto Hotel by the Rialto bridge. So we figured we would go there and find her so off we set with the map.
Well. Venice – as I said earlier – has lots of tiny winding streets, canals and a mask shop and a murano glass shop on every corner. Plus it was so hot and full of people! There are apparently 20 million tourists a year to Venice, I reckon a good proportion of them were here today.
I also went to a post office to get a box to mail some stuff home, I waited in line, got to the top of the line and was able to buy the box, but was told I couldn’t post it because they were shutting – I had not clicked about the siesta at this stage.
Anyway, we got lost. When you google the top 10 things to do in Venice, “Get lost” is number 1, so tick that off the list. At one stage things were looking familiar and we thought we were on the right track but probably it was just because there were lots of mask shops, canals and glass shops, as just when we thought we should be just about there we came out to the arsenale (old navy base) and when we looked at the map
1. We were on the other side of the island from where we wanted to be
2. We had been nowhere near here before!
So we decided to back track to St Marks Square where we last knew for sure where we were, and start from there. So to cut a long story short we eventually found the Rialto hotel which was right by the Rialto Bridge (which for some reason in my mind I had got confused with another bridge so I sent Kelly photos first of all saying “photos of the Rialto bridge”, then “No, scrap that, it is not the rialto bridge”, then “Yes, hang on, it is”. I don’t know how she puts up with me).
Anyway. We got to the hotel and Gen came down but Tyson was asleep so we did not get to meet him, but Gen did take us up to the balcony of her hotel to see the view. Would you believe it, from there we looked down and saw the same ruddy sign “5 minutes to Mcdonalds” that we had been at three and a half hours earlier!! One can only laugh and appreciate that we probably saw more of Venice than we otherwise would have.
While we were there Gen told us a very funny story. She had done the bike ride with her dad, Rob, and so unsurprisingly they have the surname. Rob was leaving Venice the same day as us to go to Florence for a couple of days and then home. Tyson, Gen’s boyfriend, was arriving the same day that Rob was leaving. Tyson had been sending emails to Gen at the hotel which she was not getting. “Hmm … frustrating and strange”, she thought, however she was managing to get hold of him via her email enough to organize stuff so just put it down to one of the frustrations of travel.
Well it all came to a head when 30 minutes after her dad left she came downstairs and asked at reception if she was going to be able to change to the double room that she had requested. When she was told no, she asked if she could have the beds pushed together and clean sheets. Well to cut another long story short, the receptionist had thought Gen and her dad were married, and that Tyson was her lover!! The receptionist had been really conflicted and had sought advice from her boss about what she should do when receiving the messages from Tyson, and had decided she was not going to be involved, hence no passing on of messages or emails. However when Gen arrived at reception with Rob barely out the door wanting a double bed and sheets she decided enough was enough. Once they cleared it up they both had a good laugh.
One thing I did not do in Venice is go on a gondola ride. The price starts at 90 Euro, and given that I get motion sick I decided it would not be worth it. I saw lots of them, but only men gondolier (drivers). One gondolier also sung opera as he was going down the canal, it was very special to see and hear as he disappeared off through the bridges.
After wandering around a bit more we decided to head back to Mira to get ready for an early start the next day. We got lost again finding our way, we came to one place that we knew we had been at that morning but frustratingly could not remember which way we had been going when we were there. We stopped in a square to check the map and have a cold drink. We found we were surrounded by Irish, English, and Australians. The waiter gave us very simple directions “Go that way for 5 minutes”. So all was well, we found the bus.
As we had not told the hotel by 2pm that we would be there for dinner, we had to go elsewhere. The restaurant from the night before was shut on Sunday nights, but we had been told that the guys who had gone out to do laundry had seen a number of places in the village. Well they were all shut, and the Chinese restaurant that Geergo (tour guide) had seen by the bus stop was in fact a bar with two Chinese guys behind it, that only sold toasted sandwiches. So we had one of those and an ice-cream and laughed at the contrast from the night before.
Venice was more beautiful than I had ever imagined, and I will definitely return and spend some time here.