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November 2017: Shamal is on the hard in Guatemala.Mum and Dad are home in New Zealand till Jan. 2018. *ATTENTION PLEASE* if you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

27 October 2012


Hello again

The morning of Thursday 20th September saw us departing Rovinj - Croatia, and 10 hours later after 60nm, dropping anchor in the Lagoon of Venice just off Treporti and Marina Fiofita.  We were able to sail some of the way but the winds were light and the seas a little lumpy.  The last few miles was slow going as we navigated our way along the canal system inside the Lagoon avoiding the ferries transporting visitors to and from Venice and the surrounding Islands.   This was my third visit here.  Alec and I passed through Venice doing a ferry flight from Europe to the Middle East in 1987, but never had time to venture into the old city.  I returned in 1999 with my good friend Helen on our European trip, and loved it then. So to come back to this wonderful old seafaring port in one’s own boat was quite a buzz.

The birth of this city begins sometime in the 4th century with the collapse of the Roman Empire.  The invasion of Italy by the Barbarians ( Huns ) forced the people on the mainland to seek refuge on the Islands in the Lagoon. It did not take the Venetians long to develop trade, first with the mainland selling salt, then moving down the Adriatic and then soon further afield.  Over time they also conquered lands and built forts and cities as they went.  Hence today we have been able to visit some of these wonderful old places as we have moved not only up the Adriatic, but all around the Mediterranean.  One can always tell where the Venetians have been as there ‘stamp’ is left in stone in the form of ‘The Lion of St. Mark’ as a plaque on all their fortresses.  See photo.

So with a good guide book in hand Alec and I set off to explore the area.  Our first day was spent on the mainland peninsular around Treporti where we find out the easiest way to explore the area. We purchased a three day pass for the ferries which we can use to travel to any of the Islands in the lagoon.  The marina has a great coffee bar which we frequent, and we find after a short bus ride we are in the local village where we will be able to stock up supplies at any time.  Well no not any time, these people also have the Mediterranean habit of siesta, and we found in Treporti that not all shops open in the afternoon, and those that do, may not open till 16.30-1700.

The following morning we head for the ferry terminal to catch a ride to the Island of Burano.  That was only a 15 minute ferry ride.  The belfry of the Church of St. Fosca stands out as it has a distinct lean to it no matter which direction you view it from.  Also what really strikes one as you approach the Island are the ‘bright’ colours of the houses.  At some stage there must have been a ‘special’ on paint, but it does add a cheerful  atmosphere, and the colours continue along the houses lining the canals, with quaint bridges linking the pedestrian walkways.  Traditionally Burano is the home of lace-making.   We saw wonderful examples of this in the shops.  There is even a lace museum dedicated wholly to this art.  It was a lovely day and we strolled about taking lots of photos then sat drinking real coffee watching all the other tourists.

The next day we decided to head to Venice.  We had read up that this small city is besieged by up to 20 million visitors a year!!!!  This means that it really does not have a down season.  Oh well time to join the throngs.  The ferry dropped us off on the north eastern side of the Island.  We now need to negotiate our way to St Mark’s Square from where we hope to visit some of the more well-known sites.  With our tiny print map and Alec who thinks I know where to go because I have been here once before – yeah right – off we set.  To start with we had no idea which direction we were going as the streets are so narrow, it is impossible to see land marks. We noticed one tourist using a hand bearing compass, a wise move !!  We find ourselves in streets that end at a canal or cross a bridge that only takes you back in the direction you have come from, but our guide book does warn us about this.  All part of the fun of Venice.  At least there are plenty of coffee shops about.  We stumble upon the famous Rialto Bridge crossing the Grand Canal, and look down on the Gondolas – the most celebrated boats of Venice, touting for business from any game tourist who is willing to pay the hundred euros for a half hour ride.  As Helen and I had done this before at a much lesser rate, we decided we could skip that ride.  After a few more wrong turns we finally do find our way into St Mark’s Square.  First visit is into the Basilica of St Mark.  Quite spectacular.  Lavish decorations, amazing mosaics, beautiful marble work and a fascinating history.  Even Alec was impressed.  According to legend, the body of the Evangelist St. Mark is said to have been stolen from Alexandria in Egypt  and smuggled to Venice in a barrel of pork. He is now resting under the high alter.  The first building dates back to around 832AD but has had many additions over the centuries.  Behind the high alter is The Pala D’Oro.  It is a gold plaque measuring 3.48mt by 1.40mt with 80 enamel images depicting Christian festivals, the Prophets, the Apostles, Saints etc. It is studded with precious Gem Stones and quite a work of Art.  It has somehow survived the wars and devastation that Venice has seen over the centuries. See photos.

After a lunch break and more walking we had a quick visit to loo.  Alec was horrified.  It cost us more to use the loo than it did for our cup of coffee!!!!  Then it was off to the Palazzo Ducale – the Doge’s Palace.  It was the official residence of the Doges – Rulers - and today houses a fantastic collection of art work including the world’s largest painting ‘Paradise’ painted by Jacopo Tintoretto and his school.  It is said that Jacopo was not only very old at the time he did the painting, but also nearly blind, hence had to ask for help from his sons and apprentices.  It is 7 metres high and 22 metres long.  Also joined to the Palace, by the Bridge of Sighs, is the Prison from which Casanova managed to escape from.

It was now time to find our way back to our ferry terminal.  Alec was still busy calculating the prices of everything.  He found it interesting that Coke and Fanta were the same price as a Beer, a coffee was the cheapest.  We had been lucky as Venice is often flooded by rising tides combined with heavy rains.  Places like St. Mark’s Square flood. In parts of the city board walks are laid when this occurs.

Day three of our ferry pass took us to the Island of Murano.  This is where the glass factories were moved to from Venice at the end of the 13th century for fear of fire.  The furnaces are still working today producing some beautiful works of art.  During our visit an outdoor expedition was on – see photos.  Again we wandered the pedestrian walkways along the canals with little fishing boats tied up along the sides, little cafes and tons of tourist shops all selling the same glass ornaments and jewellery – quite picturesque.   We are never sure how all these little shops stay in business when they all sell the same thing, but, I did help out in several of them as I did some Christmas shopping.  We found a nice place for lunch and enjoyed some of the local cuisine. I had a black ink squid risotto which was very tasty, and Alec had the local fish which we prayed did not come out of the canal beside us!!

So with our three day pass used up we felt we had had a good look around.  Our final day was going to be spent getting a few supplies and finding a café or somewhere to send off some emails from.  Again off we set in the bus. Treporti  - no luck – no public internet there, we are told to try the next town Cavallino a short bus ride away.  So off we set.  Somehow we end up at a place called Jesolo quite some distance away but never mind we are sure we will find somewhere to have lunch and do emails.  NO, it is now after 1.00pm and everything is shut apart from the supermarket and a shoe shop. Siesta time again!!!  Back on the bus and we eventually find Cavallino which is not a town but a couple of cafes and a few houses, but yes there is internet.  So after lunch and computer jobs complete we head back for supplies and back to SHAMAL.  We get on board just before another thunderstorm starts.  Another really good one.  Not too much wind as we are very sheltered in the lagoon, but plenty of thunder and lots of fork lightening.

So after five days in Venice it is time to head back to Croatia.  It is a dull overcast morning as we raise the anchor and head back down the lagoon and out to the sea.  It is has been another wonderful unforgettable experience.  We are so pleased we made the effort to venture this far up the Adriatic.  According to the Italians we were never there, if one does not check in, one cannot check out.  We did take our boat documents into the Marina but they were not interested!!

So we will sign out for this news letter

The Admiral and The Commander

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