Venice in the Sun – 17 June 2015

Today was a much better day than yesterday.  Today there was light cloud that soon burned off and left clear skies – no sign of rain.  We took an early vaporetto in to St Mark’s Square and walked away from the square then into one of the back streets.  From there we just wandered the streets for a while and had a coffee in a wee cafe.  Before we knew it, we found ourselves at St Mark’s Square again.  Actually, we found our way back to the little close we had sheltered in yesterday, just along from the square.  Scamp thought it would be a good idea to go left this time, past the square instead of through it.  This led us through an avenue of trees with lots of people selling the usual tourist stuff from kiosks.  I got a Bluetooth iPhone remote that seems to work very well.  We walked around the Accademia area and Scamp found an old church that had been turned into a museum for musical instruments.  Really, really interesting.  One particular exhibit showed the stages in making a violin.  I remember some of the steps from guitar making at college, but we didn’t put 40 coats of natural lacquer on the finished article.  We thought 10 coats of A/C lacquer was extreme!

We had lunch in a little Italian (of course) restaurant just off a side street.  Highlight was one poor American boy breaking two wine glasses in two separate incidents and rushing off in shame.  His dad, or at least I took it to be his dad, went after him and brought him back.  Poor boy seemed shattered, like the glasses.  Scamp had macaroni with fresh tomatoes and basil.  I had linguine a la pesto.  Mine was delicious and I think Scamp’s was too judging by the tiny amount she left.  After we left we walked further into the Accademia area and Scamp found a shop selling Murano glass bracelets, so that was her present from Venice.  I found an art shop and bought myself a sketch pad and a watercolour block.  After that, we headed back to SM’sS which is really easy to find as almost all roads lead to it.  We stopped on the way for an ice-cream.  I was trying to get a photo of Scamp in the square when I accidentally got in the way of a German bloke (poor bloke only had a Canon).  He said something rude to me in German, so I just turned round and told him to “Fuck Off!”  Fuck Off! is such a great expression, isn’t it?  It doesn’t matter what language you speak, Fuck Off! is Fuck Off!  Anyway it worked, because off he fucked!

Got back to the vaporetto place just as the boat was coming in.  Scamp nicked away to take a photo of one of the street performers dressed up in a fancy ball gown and wearing a mask.  Talking about masks, there were a lot of Japanese in Venice today and loads of them were wearing masks like surgeons wear.  We were talking about this with Derek and Sue during the week and they thought it was a fear of contracting Bird Flu.  It could be.  One of the girls I saw had a lovely lace facemask.  Pretty and functional.

Back at the ship, we had two new playmates at the dinner table.  Can’t remember her name, but Scamp says his name was Andy.  Scamp will interrogate them tomorrow if they come back.  She scared the other two away.  Tomato Cheesecake (strange) for starter, Venison for main and Limoncello Panacotta (which didn’t taste in the slightest of lemons).

Watched the sail away from the very front of the ship and it was quite a dramatic exit.  Venice is lovely.  Very expensive, but lovely.  I really hope we can come back some day.

Venice in the Rain – 16 June 2015

At last, a late rise.  We were not picking up the pilot until just after 11.00am, so for once we had the luxury of a long lie in.  Had breakfast and went for the last dance practise of this week.  It was the American Swing Jive again and we are beginning to get the steps to fit the music at last.  Then it was off to watch the show.  By 11.00am, people were already standing three deep at the rail on deck 14 forward.  Scamp and I managed to wangle our way almost to the rail and for most of the time we had a great view of the passage to the berth.  We passed close to St Mark’s Square and had a good view of the entrance to the Grand Canal.  The commentary from the entertainment officer was given in an Irish accent with little or no thought given to the Italian pronunciation of the words or names.  I could see Scamp cringe with every mispronounced.  Really, P&O, if you are going to stage a thing like this, spend some time thinking about the preparation and presentation. 

After we were secure and had received the warning not to “carry anything on board for the benefit of strangers”, we were good to go ashore.  If the foregoing warning is to be taken literally, does that mean we can carry a couple of kilos of heroin on board for a friend?  Like a lot of things in the P&O world, the phraseology is from a different age.  To allow the majority of the punters to go ashore, we had a quick lunch and then I went for a snooze while Scamp sat out on the deck and read.  Around 3.00pm we disembarked and walked the half a mile to … a bus!?  The bus was a shuttle that would take us to the vapouretto which is the bus-boat that scoots people around Venice.  The bus sat for 25minutes until it was full then drove around the ship to the other side of the dock.  Honestly, we could have walked that distance in about 15 minutes from the boat itself.  Waited another 20 minutes for the vapouretto to take us to St Mark’s Square.  The trip on the bus-boat was quite interesting.  Scamp said it was strange to be so close to the water after a week of looking down from about 50 metres.  We did notice that the sky was getting very dark and Scamp was sure she saw lightning.

Arrived a little bit along from St Mark’s Square just as the first drops of rain began to fall.  Before we could take a few steps, it was chucking it down.  We managed to get some shelter in a wee covered alley leading to a hotel, along with about 40 other folk.  Then the lightning and thunder started and the rain intensified.  Now it was really torrential.  You could hardly see across the street at the worst of it, with no chance of seeing any of the buildings across the lagoon.  The patter and banter from all those sheltering kept everybody amused.  Two young Italians wearing thin cagoules walked through to go to the hotel. One was walking in bare feet with his legs bare.  As he walked by he apparently said he had nothing on underneath.  An American girl standing next to me said she was shocked by this, but turned and stared hoping for a better look.  They say irony is lost on Americans.  It would appear to be true.

After a while the rain lessened and a few hardy souls risked it with umbrellas.  We waited a little longer as Scamp had left hers in the cabin, but the rain had almost stopped by the time we left our shelter.  We walked over the bridge to St Mark’s Square and saw the strangest sight.  There was a teenage Korean? girl in full wedding dress being photographed by a teenage boy who looked like the same nationality.  He was dressed as a groom, but was photographing the girl who was posing.  Then he set the self-timer on the camera and posed with her in strangely symmetrical poses.  I don’t have a clue what they were up to.  St Mark’s square is always full of nutters.  We saw two boys lying in a puddle and rolling around in it.  Nutters!

Walked through St Mark’s square and on towards the Rialto Bridge.  We went in to a wee cafe to write some postcards and have a slab pizza and a coffee.  I’ve always wanted to have one of these slab pizzas in a wee cafe like this.  The pizza and coffee were great and one of the postcards was written (Hazy).  Posted the card and walked over the Rialto.  Saw a bloke with a wooden tripod.  Ooh, that looked nice.  I could make one of them.

Wandered round the shops a bit more.  Scamp bought me five glass sweets.  Sort of Morano glass, but probably only sort of.  Then she decided we would have dinner at a restaurant on the side of the Grand Canal.  Scamp had Spaghetti a la Vongole and I had a Pizza Romana.  Two pizzas in one day.  Walked back to the vapouretto station and just got into the shelter when the rain came on again.  Got the boat back to the ship and were just having a cup of coffee when the thunderstorm started.  It was great watching it from the restaurant on deck 14.  We were just having coffee or hot water for Scamp.  Another day of excessive eating.

There were a lot of little things that could have been done more easily than they were by P&O today.  I’m beginning to lose faith in this company who seem to be living in the past and trying to enforce an old order in a new world.  That never works, P&O.  I don’t think we will be travelling with you again.

Looking forward to another day in Venice tomorrow.

No tears were spilt today, I’m glad to say.