Friday, 14 September 2012
Greece 2012, Part 1, Venice
Some time ago I was invited to take some ferry trips with a friend, and then shown the itinerary. The journey for me would start in Venice, Italy, and continue to Patras in Greece, before visiting several of the Greek Isles in the Aegean. How could I refuse a wonderful offer like that? Of course I couldn’t!
Wednesday 29th August 2012 found me flying early from London’s Gatwick Airport to Venice, with my rucksack safely tucked in the hold as, officially, an oversized bag. It really wasn’t but, as an unconventionally shaped piece of luggage with straps, that was where it had to travel, which was fine with me. From my front side window seat I could take photographs once we were airborne, and I was fascinated with the vistas far below me. I could see harbours, ships, mountains with snow and glaciers, lakes, deep green valleys, then the flat fertile plains of Italy under a cloudless blue sky.
With my watch set one hour forward from British Summer Time, we landed at 11.30 in Venice’s Marco Polo airport and stepped out into glorious hot sunshine. Far away I could see a huge cruise ship at what must be the Cruise Terminal, but the small bus took us all from the aircraft to the small terminal to collect luggage and then board the Aerobus (6 Euros) to the city. I knew I could take a water taxi to get there, but the time and cost were too much, and I wanted to see Venice as soon as possible.
The land and plants looked scorched from all the recent high temperatures, but once on the causeway leading into the small islands that are Venice there was glittering water on both sides and ahead I could see some of the many towers and domes of the city.
I was so excited to be here and able to enjoy the sights and sounds for a few hours. From the bus station in the Piazzale Roma I joined all the tourists milling about, but soon met my travelling companion under the new Grand Canal Bridge, the controversial Ponte della Costituzione footbridge.
The shade was welcome as plans were made for the day. Luggage was left in safe-keeping at the Railway Station (5 Euros) on production of a passport being shown and copied, and then we were free to see some sights. We travelled on several big water taxis (the famous vaporettos), which were cheap and fast, and packed with people enjoying the breeze as we sailed along the waterways. Boats of all kinds were everywhere, in a kind of organized chaos. We found a little local café for home-cooked Venetian lunch and then the exploring continued.
We finally had to collect our rucksacks and make our way to the Ferry Terminal, ready to board the first ferry of my trip. We were to sail with ANEK Lines from Venice to Patras, on board the good ship ‘KRITI II’.
To be continued....