Camping Rialto and Venice. - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2018 to September 19, 2018

Camping Rialto and Venice.

Traghetto, vaporetto, Veneto, Rialto, Lido, San Marco, Murano, Burano, Tintoretto, addio.

September 16 Sunday, September 17 Monday, September 18 Tuesday,    September 19 Wednesday.

Traghetto, vaporetto, Veneto, Rialto, Lido, San Marco, Murano, Burano, Tintoretto, addio.

Sunday: Camping Rialto is slowly coming to life. This place seems to fulfil the function of a starting and finishing point for many travellers and there are a few cycle tourists evident. One nice young Polish chap and his companion are heading to Trieste they tell us. We're not convinced that their diet has too much scientific basis- he seems to smoke quite a lot and she’s tucking into a massive bag of cheezels. However they have made it from the Baltic and they look healthy, so it can't be all bad. I offer him our remaining gas canisters if he can make use of them and he thinks he can.

The haze has lifted for our Sunday exploration of Venice, and the sky is a vibrant blue. Conveniently, bus tickets can be bought at the camp office and the bus stop is across the road and takes us to Piazza Roma in 10 minutes. As we cross the lagoon we try to spot the cycle lane, and yes, there is one. Handy for future reference

And does  Venice live up to its hype?  It certainly does. For a start, it's so different. And we are working off vague memories from a 1976 European trip in our lime green Escort van when one of my lingering images is of rats scampering across the road as we made our way across the lagoon. All that is forgotten- the reflection of the light off the water on this late summer day highlights the colours of the buildings, the emerald of the water and the seeming impossibility of a functioning city appearing to be afloat on an ocean. 

Grand Canal.
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Rio Novo.
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Venezia Sestiere Cannaregio.
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Activity on the water is brisk and continuous, with water craft of every size and style from varnished wood fizz boats to elegant curved and polished gondolas propelled by men (could there be women gondoliers out there too?) dressed in uniforms that could only be described as quaint, to the vast numbers and styles of water taxis. Where in landed cities, trucks and vans fill the roads transporting goods, that function is carried out by barges and craft laden with everything from bottled water to building supplies to rubbish. The sights and sounds of Venice assail the senses but in an invigorating way.

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Oil on untroubled waters.
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If there  are rules for walking in a maze, these do not work for Venice. Our meandering keeps us away from the crowds until we hit Piazza San Marco. Surely Venice is under threat from sinking under the masses weight of these numbers? "Enjoy and Respect Venice," slogans proliferate. The Guardian has  headlined " Boorish tourist behaviour " and that Venice councillors are voting to prohibit sitting on the ground and on public monuments, or anywhere which affords respite to the weary. This seems to include any conveniently place piece of flat marble. With 60,000 visitors per day, policing this must be a task, and there is a force of firm but friendly volunteers who appear to be doing their best. Despite the masses the Piazza San Marco is astounding. On our 70s visit we remember touring the Palace Ducale. Today, the Tintoretto exhibition is on there, so the queues are lengthy.

We scoot around the canal passing shops with window displays that dazzle with Glass, fabric, and clothes stylishly and colourfully arranged.

A Trachetto transports us across a canal buzzing with taxis, gondolas and vaporetti. So close- Do they ever collide one wonders? Our boatman skilfully steers us through the waves and we appreciate a different perspective from the water.

Shopping is still done ‘a piedi’.
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Santa Croce.
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San Croce- a pretty little piazza offering shade.
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San Polo.
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Santa Croce.
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We pop in and out of churches. This morning's  Latin Mass was in pre Vatican Latin style. Six young men serving in full regalia, waving thuribles which puffed out copious clouds of incense and observing more ceremonial rituals than we've seen in 40 years. It is hot work and the head altar 'boy' mops  his brow with a massive white handkerchief, studies the damp residue before efficiently continuing with his ceremonies duties. The cantor plays the organ and sings at the same time in perfect harmony.

The Latin Mass- very pre-Vatican 2.
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The Acadamia and other galleries are on this side, but the light and airiness of the canal keeps us outdoors, happy to wander. When we eventually find a quiet shady spot not being policed by over zealous volunteers, we sit and eat our Lidl filled rolls and listen to the varieties of language floating on the negligible breeze. Italian predominates but the cruise ships have also disgorged a number of American visitors and the harsh vowels of Eastern European travellers can be heard too.

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Priorities.
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‘What news on the Rialto?’
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Ponte di Rialto.
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San Marco
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Saint Mark’s Square. Piazza San Marco.
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The water bus back to Roma is crowded but we hug the rail for the views,  dodging the ticket collector as he 'permessos' his way through the congested passengers. The ferry zigzags along the Grand Canal providing wonderful views of the palaces and balconies, the Moorish windows, and the bright, water and light reflected  colours of Venice.

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Bacino di San Marco.
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The hazards of canal life.
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Back to Rialto and a cup of tea to recuperate.

Monday: Bike packing day. The day passes quietly as we clean the bikes for NZ Biosecurity, remove the protruding parts of our velos- handlebars, carrier , front wheel, seat post, deflate the tyres, zip tie the loose parts together and pack them into in their cardboard cages along with one pannier, the top box and some tools and spares. The €12 spent on each box has been a very good investment as the bikes are an easy fit with nothing threatening to punch a hole through the sides, top or base. For good measure we wrap our roll up foam mats ( good value since their purchase in Arles Sport Direct, back in June) around each cycle. After that, a liberal binding of several metres of parcel tape and the daubing, in black pen, of optimistic, attention grabbing pleas: 'Fragile', 'With care', 'This way up', and some artfully created bike icons - and we're done. Can the boxes be lifted using the two cut out handholds? Easily! The 30 kilogram should present no problems at the weigh in.

Sizing them up.
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Nice fit. Boxes a good size in terms of width and height.
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We then prepare for expected visitors. We are very excited to have Gaylene and John stop with us after their St Francis walk from Florence to Rome. Now on their way to France, they have suggested a Venice rendezvous. We hope the bunks in Chalet 6 are as comfortable as the monastic cells and convent  pilgrim accommodation.

Whilst waiting for their arrival we talk to a young Auckland lass, who asks to hang her towel on our clothes line. She has been working for a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe. She works on contract and has had some time before her next job at the Adelaide film festival.

Tuesday: A shared breakfast of our final grains of muesli and fruit starts our day well. NZ friends, John and Gaylene have arrived latish Monday after a lengthy drive in their flash little leased Citroen, from Rome, via a stop in Florence. We decide on a final trip into Venice to visit the islands of Murano and Burano. The day, again, is clear and sunny and with an early getaway , progress is swift. Murano is a short ferry ride from Piazza Roma and one of its attractions for tourists is the glass objets on sale in a variety of stores. One is warned to be wary of cheap imitations but to the inexperienced eye, it's hard to tell. Through a doorway we watch a fiery display of glass blowing before moving on to view the Tintoretto and Giovanni Bellini paintings in St Pietro Matire. The interior has simple white walls, a refreshing contrast to some of the over the top baroque interiors we have encountered, but it provides a fitting contrast to the rich colouring of the paintings displayed on the walls.

Chiesa di St Pietro Matire.
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Pala Barbariga. By Giovanni Bellini, it was originally painted for the Doge’s palace but was moved later.
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Canal De Cannaregio
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The ferry ride to Burano is a leisurely 10 kilometres and the island itself  is noticeably more distant. Even at this distance though, there are plenty of craft on the water going about their daily work. We even spot a boat speeding along with a flower covered coffin aboard. 'Death in Venice' indeed- Thomas Mann was on to it. Burano is an island of lace makers and colourfully painted houses. The latter are noticeably more brightly coloured than elsewhere in Venice and despite stories attributing their painting to a desire for helping fishermen find their homes in foggy weather, it seems that there is a system organising colour options that has been in existence for some time.

Death in Venice.
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Approaching Murano.
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Rio Del Vetrai
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An arresting moment on the canal.
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Canal degli Angeli.
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Burano is a riot of colour.
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Glass blowing on Murano.
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Lunching on Burano.
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Posing on Burano.
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After a lunch of pizza at a shady table, we catch the return ferry to San Marco via Lido. On our walk from the piazza , we follow John's GPS down narrow alleys and over bridges to the 15th century church of St Zaccharia, father of John the Baptist. Here we view several paintings by Bellini and are grateful for Gaylene's Art Historian's interpretative knowledge.

St Zaccaria.
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St Zaccaria- Madonna by Bellini.
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The crypt of St Zaccaria’s has a problem with rising damp, particularly if the tide is high.
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Back on our final ferry for the day, we are delivered back to Piazza Roma and eventually Camping Rialto on board a full number 5 bus. After a final cup of tea we farewell our friends who are heading west towards Mantova and later Provence.

And a final pack for us as tomorrow we farewell Venice, Italy and the Continent.

Wednesday: Arrivederci Venezia! Our final day and departure is relatively anticlimactic. Our bike boxes are a close but safe fit for the VW shuttle van (€20) and we have no problems with the weigh in. 

Marco Polo- departure day.
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Painless check in.
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Our carriage awaits.
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It seems an awfully long time ago that we were putting our bikes together, having arrived at Geneva Airport! Marco Polo airport has plenty of comfortable seating and with Dubai a mere 6 hour flight away, on a plane that has plenty of space, including an empty seat beside us, and plenty of movie choices, we are relaxed. As our jet climbs high over the emerald of the water bound city beneath us, and crosses into the airspace of Slovenia, we reflect on our fortune at having enjoyed four months of travel without borders, across amazingly varied landscapes, propelled by the power of our own energy; we know how valuable are the memories of people with whom we have come into contact and how enduring will be the images of the special places we have experienced.

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