Venice. One of Europe’s most romantic destinations. The birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi. A city my wife and I had longed to visit. It did not disappoint in terms of archaeological splendour and artistic delights.
The launch took us to within a hundred metres of St Mark’s Square. We strolled past the stalls festooned with colourful, ornate masquerade ball masks. (We were, of course, in the City of Masks). We jostled past countless tourists as we sought a better view of the Bridge of Sighs, before entering the Square itself.
We spun in a circle, taking in the surrounding buildings, before heading along one of the narrow streets, thronged with people peering into small shops. There did not seem to be a lot of purchasing going on. Passing over yet another small bridge, the canal was awash with gondoliers in resplendent straw boaters. It reminded me of prep school. Such was our brief time capsule, we had little time to enjoy the Basilica di San Marco or Doge’s Palace.
Back at the Grand Canal, carabinieri patrolled the waters. We stopped at a café overlooking the canal as water taxis swept in and out of berthing posts. I ordered a large beer and vodka/tonic. Basking in the late sunshine, we had another chance to take in the vista.
Asking for the bill, the waiter mumbled and wrote on the paper tablecloth: €25. Having picked myself up off the floor, I paid the outrageous fee. It felt like an assault on an unwary tourist. What a sad memory of an otherwise glorious experience.
Images from top: Masquerade ball masks; Bridge of Sighs;; St Mark’s Square; Gondolier; Ah, Mr Bond (yours truly)…
Next stop… Kotor, Montenegro