|One of the many ships that cruised by our hotel |
via the Canale di San Marco
Australian romance author, Joanie MacNeil, writes short contemporary romances: a blend of sweet, sexy, heart-warming stories about new love and second chances. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling with her own romantic hero. Learn more about Joanie and her books at her website.
Venice, Italy, October 2013
I had been to Venice before, very briefly, visiting the usual tourist attractions: a glass-blowing demonstration at the Murano Glass Factory where the beautiful, intricate designs of the softly coloured chandeliers were like nothing I’d ever seen before. Other attractions: St. Mark’s Square and the magnificent Basilica di San Marco; the Doges’ Palace and Bridge of Sighs; also to be enjoyed, a gondola ride complete with serenade along the Grand Canal and into the hidden waterways that wind through the city. Across the water, the conversation and laughter of the gondoliers echoed in the narrow passages, adding to the atmosphere.
This time, we arrived in Venice via a coach tour from Zagreb through Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and the Dalmatian coast. In Venice we did all those touristy things again as part of the coach tour. Our accommodation for two nights was in a monastery converted to a hotel, on the opposite side of the Great Basin to St. Mark’s Square.
The Basin is the body of water where the Grand Canal and Canale della Giudecca flow into Canale di San Marco. On stepping out of the hotel on the first morning, we were mesmerized by the sight of an enormous cruise ship making its way down the Canale della Giudecca. For a moment, the ship appeared to be coming straight at us before following the slight curve in the canal, through the Great Basin and out to sea. Little did we know that watching these ships come and go would become a bit addictive. The stateliness of the modern cruise ships against the grandeur of the ancient Venetian architecture was a sight to behold.
Once we’d left the tour, we transferred to another hotel about a 10-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square, a good choice as our room overlooked the sparkling aqua-blue waters of the Great Basin. This hotel had its own private dock at the back door, which made for a very easy transfer via water taxi. We spent a week in Venice, and each time we walked from our hotel to the busy tourist area, and back again at the end of the day, we battled through the constant crowds over the many small bridges spanning the canals.
I had been to the Rialto Bridge on my previous visit, and wanted to take my husband there. On our daily explorations, we wandered around the narrow streets, taking in the sights and sounds, getting side-tracked and finding interesting eateries and shops, and along the way discovering lovely little courtyards tucked away in quiet areas. We did find the bridge, worth the walk through the narrow crowded maze.
|A peaceful place to sit and dream in Venice, Italy|
On the last day, we had time to spare before the water taxi took us to our cruise ship. We wandered in the opposite direction away from the tourist areas and found ourselves in a quiet residential area surrounding a lovely big park, lots of tall trees, and beautiful homes. A pleasant place to sit and relax away from the tourist hubbub. The naval training college, off limits to all but naval personnel, is located beyond the residential area at the end of the island.
One of the highlights of our stay was watching the cruise ships glide past our hotel window, four within 90 minutes on one occasion, on their way out to sea. We would lean out of the window and reach out, feeling that we could almost touch them. An amazing sight. One day as we sat by the water having lunch, we were thrilled to see the ship we were to board next day glide past us on its way to the dock. Probably the fact that the upcoming cruise was my first added to the excitement.
The major waterways of Venice are so cluttered with water taxis, barges, and a range of other craft in between, some such tiny boats. To see the cruise ships amongst much smaller craft dotting and criss-crossing across the basin is a remarkable, if not a breath-holding sight.
We were due to leave Venice at 1.00am, and made the effort to be on deck so that we could see the city by night. I anticipated lots of pretty lights showcasing the pathways and the intrigue of the city itself, but instead, there were few lights, and Venice on the whole was in darkness.
As we waved our goodbyes to Venice, we looked forward to our cruise around the Mediterranean and the new places we’d visit.
Desperate and Dateless
Neither Zoe O’Malley nor Liam Reynolds consider themselves desperate or dateless, but fate intervenes when each independently receives a ticket to the Desperate and Dateless Ball and their lives become irretrievably entangled. Can they live by their golden rule—never mix business with pleasure?