“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need… roads!”

Doc Brown hit the nail on the head when it came to Venice. Where roads, avenues, boulevards and lanes turn into canals. Criss-crossed by bridges, linked by piazzas, Venice is Europe’s largest car-free urban area. Get around by water taxi (expensive), water bus (packed), traghetti (cheap and cool!) and of course, your own two feet. Expect lots of walking in this city. Screw the map. Get lost in Venice, window shop, listen to gondoliers sing, take a cafe break, buy cheap souvenirs, eat lots of pasta. In summary, that’s what we mostly did in Venice. Now just read the rest of the post for pictures.

Oh and in case you don’t know who Doc Brown is, you need to watch Back To The Future.

View from our hotel room, looks idyllic yes? BUT (there’s always a but) look out and you realise that the flowers are fake and then look down and realise that you’re actually overlooking a busy pedestrian street and bridge where people linger, talk and walk, and tall folks who do jump shots can actually look into our room. So not quite the romantic alcove you think it is. This is the newly renovated, under-new-management Casa Petrarca. I had stayed here both times in the late 90s when I came with KH. It was darker, simpler, maybe a tad grottier then, but I still prefer that version to this. A bit too slick for my taste.

Glitz and more glitz. One of the many look-alike shops selling masks, dolls and souvenirs in Venice.

St Mark’s basilica circa AD832. Details of the facade. The mosaics glow in the evening sun.

gondolas at rest

Taking a traghetto across the Grand Canal. View from the water.

There are only two or three bridges across the Grand Canal. So smart travelers who don’t want to make the long trek to and from bridges, take the shortcut – by traghetti. There are various points along the shore where you can take one – look for green signs. Its also usually posted on the maps. The traghetti is a gondola, but used to transport people across. Savvy locals stand, nervous tourists sit. You might get a bit of a splash of canal water (my butt got wet on one ride) but at 1.50euros, its a cheap way to get a gondola thrill.

The only minor drawback about the traghetto is that it sometimes lands you at obscure places and you’ve got to figure out how to get to point B from there. Luckily, the yellow signs usually point you in the right direction. Per Rialto means To Rialto and so on. Except this one was a bit weird – it just had directions to the train station and pointed upwards! But that’s the thing about Venice – you stumble about for a bit, but always come out into a piazza or major lane and then its easier to get your bearings.

Doggie leads the way. Venetian on the move with dog and baby stroller.

Gondoliers waiting for prey, I mean, customers.

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