"The fortnight in Venice was sweet - too sweet; I was drowning in honey, stingless." - Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead RevisitedNot quite a fortnight but my five days in Venice were certainly stingless. What a place: I've never been to Italy before and was worried that my gluttonous readings of Forster and Waugh would have spoiled me for the experience - but I needn't have worried. It was a sublime holiday - perfect walking weather, excellent company, beautiful hotel in a fantastic part of the island near San Marco, the extra comfort of knowing we got an amazing bargain, not too many tourists so never felt crowded out of places and everything was even more enjoyable because we were not on a budget. Ahh, the luxury of not having to debate whether to have a nice lunch and a budget dinner or the other way round, whether to have a bottle of wine and no pudding or drink tap water and have two courses... avoiding certain galleries and sights because they charge entry and walking everywhere because you can't afford any other form of transport rather than walking everywhere because you want to.
I have never drained the minibar in a hotel like we did over those four nights. Although I regret the Campari (never again...)
We had only two trips on the water in the entire week we were there: the first was the overlong waterbus from the airport that took us on an hour-long trip through all the islands, in the dark, that were not Venice before dropping us all off near San Marco, seasick, tired and woefully jaded about the whole experience of finally reaching this fascinating place. We were not very enthusiastic about boats after that stuffy, baffling, dark and crowded trip.
Our second trip lasted about two minutes and was quite an experience - it was a traghetto, a gondola that goes across the Grand Canal to save people the trouble of finding a bridge (there are only three that cross the Grand Canal so traghettos are convenient and necessary). It wasn't quite the romantic, languid, honey-hued Waugh-type journey: it was standing room only, at the end of the school day so there were fidgety children in there with us and we had to shimmy down some makeshift wooden poles to get into the incredibly shallow boat that was rocking and rolling like nothing else I have been on - and remember, this boat was going across the Grand Canal, cutting in front and dodging behind all the traffic going up and down it. It was beautiful, standing in the middle of the Grand Canal, looking up and down it as we bobbed about between boats - but it was something we felt we could dine out on for a while, and not necessary to repeat...
It happened to be Taxloss's birthday while we were away and we had a breathtaking evening, dining on lobster by the Rialto Bridge and sauntering back to the hotel, holding hands, stopping frequently to look at the view and sighing a lot. It really is the place for lovers - how can you not fall in love in a place that looks and feels like Venice?
The whole week was rather splendid and it made us realise just how long it has been since we have been on holiday together - not to visit family, not for Christmas or Easter or any other enforced holiday period, it was just us, going away when we felt like it, relaxing in a place that was in equal parts cultural tour, city break and romantic getaway.
I think we may do this again: but where? Prague? Barcelona? Lisbon? Hull?
Further blogging to follow, now I've broken the silence - and with pictures, perhaps!