Wednesday, September 9
After our noontime visit to San Marino, it was time to head north - to the famous city-in-a-lagoon: Venice. After a swift and uneventful three hour autostrada drive to the city of Mestre (on the coast near Venice), we parked our rental car at a long-term secured parking lot, then walked to the nearby train station. After purchasing four 1.50 Euro tickets, we awaited the next Venice-bound train.
Mestre Train Station
In all of our previous visits to Venice (of which there have been several), we've always blasted through the city within the confines of a single day, arriving early in the morning and departing in the evening. Although we have that down to a virtual science, we wanted to try something a little more relaxed this time. So, we decided to find an overnight spot within Venice itself - something that would allow us to get a tiny glimpse of what it might be like to actually live in an urban environment with only floating and feet for transportation.
The electric motors of our regional train soon quietly started humming us along the causeway towards Venice. The trip from Mestre to the end of the tracks at the Venice train station is short, perhaps only 15 to 20 minutes long, but it is a nice interlude between the world of car traffic and buses and the alternate urbanity that is Venice. Walking out the front entrance of the Venice train station onto the wide promenade facing the grand canal is like the flourish associated with the lifting of the curtain in a play. Abruptly, a panorama of new sights and sounds are revealed to the arriving traveller.
As arresting as the beautiful evening views of Venice were, stopping to linger near the train station was not an option. We were on a bit of a mission - to meet up with the handlers of the Airbnb apartment we had booked. Fortunately, some very good instructions had been provided by Barbara, the apartment's owner. They directed us southward, to the neighborhood of dorsoduro.
Some Bridges are Wooden
We arrived at the tiny [and deserted] square indicated in our instructions. We were about ten minutes early for our 6pm appointment time, but as luck would have it, the apartment's handler - Natasha - was walking towards the apartment door just as we entered the square. After introducing ourselves, we were guided inside, and up a long, bare wooden flight of stairs with a steepish pitch. This led to a marble-floored level containing a couple of apartment doors. We continued on, starting up another smaller staircase into our apartment, which was located on the very top floor of the building.
Arriving at Apartment
Natasha and her assistant guided us around, showing us the important features of the apartment. It was a very clean, tidy, and space-efficient space: a master bedroom with a bathroom/shower, a living room with two couches that turned into single beds, a slope-roofed kitchen and dining area, and a long hallway with entrance foyer and second bathroom/shower. Modern shuttered windows were present on both ends of the apartment, providing wonderful views over the rooftops of the Dorsoduro neighborhood.
Living / Dining / Kitchen
Of special note was the functioning of the showers in the two bathrooms. They were of the "wet room" variety - meaning that there was no separate curbed or fenced-off shower area; instead, the shower faucet projected out over the main bathroom area. As a result, Natasha noted, it was important to ensure that anything you didn't want to get wet was put properly away before you started your shower. Oh, and a little squeegeeing and leaving the door open afterwards helped dry things off quickly.
Even though the house itself was quite old, it was clear that this apartment had been relatively freshly created and/or rebuilt. Perhaps the only slight downside to the place was the low ceiling in the kitchen area. Anyone even somewhat tall has to stoop or crick their neck to perform kitchenwork. However, it's also obvious why this arrangement exists, for it maximizes the available space in the apartment, given that one of the building's roof segments slopes down at a shallow angle.
Evening groceries and dinner
With the apartment hand-over now complete, it was time to turn our attention to food - of both the long-term and short-term variety. We headed back out into the neighborhood, passing through delightfully deserted Venetian streets (our apartment, thankfully, was located far away from the main touristy arterial routes). We ate dinner out in the open - canalside - at a local osteria. Roland learned not to make an entire dinner out of an Italian restaurant's 'secondi' (they are typically a bare-bones meat or fish course with basically nothing else).
After dinner, we wandered to the edge of the large Guidecca canal - one of the two super-wide main canals in Venice. Along this canal's promenade, we located the neighborhood supermarket, where we stocked up on snacks and apartment food for the next little while.
With dinner and grocery shopping complete, we walked back through the stillness of the night (owing to the nearly complete lack of boat traffic after dark) to the tiny little square outside our apartment, lit only by one bright streetlamp. Apart from the sound of our footfalls on the flagstones, all else was stillness. A fine ending to a busy, destination-packed day.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Venice Day 1 - click map to view