Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three weeks and counting

It's only three weeks until we're off to Venice again. It will be trip number four for me and will be the longest, at some 30 days in La Serenissima. I mentioned it to an industry colleague recently and they looked at me and said "30 days in Venice, you'll be soo bloody bored!". I was horrified! Most people remark about how envious they are. Many want to share their favourite sights, their favourite memories. However this is a different trip, as it's in memory of mum. I actually made another colleague cry when I told her the reason for the trip - she thought it was a beautiful idea and having lost her mum two years ago, wished she had also done something to honour her mum's memory and spend time recovering and healing.

With three weeks to go until the next visit, I'm starting to think about what to do. Normally when I travel I have a schedule of sights I want to see, places I want to go, things to do, food to eat, shops to explore etc. This time I've highlighted bits and pieces in a guidebook but there's no real plan. We're going to live there and just soak it up. Literally, afterall it will be during Acqua Alta time! Cold, rainy, flooding. Great for photography!

I've actually never been to Venice in the peak tourist season. It has soo many visitors at the best of times, the thought of tens of thousands more just makes me shudder. It's nice going in off season. The queues are less, you can roam the streets without being pushed day in, day out. Mind you, they still get busy, but it's not the same. And of course, from what I gather, the smells are different. Then again, we've been there while they've been doing work to smaller canals and I can't say that was particularly pleasant, but throw in the summer heat and tourist overload, I'd rather have off peak any day!

That said, there are problems. From November onwards many of the bigger shops and prominent restaurants close for the winter. Places like the Hotel Cipriani and their dining establishments are closed. Opening hours are different. Day trips need additional research as many attractions shut down totally. Reduced daylight hours do have an impact, you can't deny it. It gets dark earlier. You need to be prepared.

But we don't mind. I have very fond memories of the last trip to Venice when we went out to Torcello. It was misty and cold. On the vaporetto from Burano there was no one onboard but us. When we got off at Torcello we walked our way around a canal with not a person in sight. We crossed a bridge and went into the Cathedral that was founded in the 600s. The Byzantine mosaics from the 12th century were mind-boggling. The only other visitor to the Cathedral was a cat who purred away and led us around the church. It was a local, no doubt, and we loved the way it sat on the charity box. We were free to observe the mosaics in silence. It was glorious. As we left the Cathedral we saw some other people who had come in on another vaporetto. It was still misty and cold, but for a while it was all ours. It was magical.

Having seen all the major attractions in this glorious city, we have no plans. We will have time to spend shopping. We can soak up the place without being rushed. We can blend in. We can be at one with the magic. I can't wait.