We took our regular 9.43 train this morning (we have become almost like commuters), but stayed on it all the way to the end station – Venice.
We walked from the station in the direction of St Mark’s Square. Not surprisingly the initial drag from the station is crowded and over-run by shops selling tourist tat, but sadly the further we got from the station and the nearer to St Mark’s it did not improve. We managed to cut down a few alleys and lose the crowds but found ourselves at the Arsenale having mysteriously overshot the square. On the way we passed the Chiesi dei Miracoli, stopping for a quick look inside. On the last day of our honeymoon in Venice we had visited the church and then found ourselves in a ‘lock in’/impromptu performance, as a German choir were visiting and wanted to test the acoustic and had suddenly broken into song.
We made our way back along the Riva degli Schiavoni to St Mark’s Square.
On the last night of our honeymoon we had agreed that we would treat ourselves and debated between a drink in St Mark’s Square or Harry’s Bar. After careful consideration we had decided we could stretch to a beer in Café Florian in the square, which turned out to be even more expensive with the added music charge! Out of interest, I checked the prices today wondering whether we would now be equally horrified by the prices, or it was just that we were on more of a budget then. I can report that the prices are still steep.
So we went round the corner to find Harry’s Bar and procure a cheeky Bellini before lunch. After 30 minutes of wandering around the right area we gave up trying to find it and went to find somewhere for lunch, which is where it all began to unravel. Trying to find somewhere that wouldn’t offer something substandard for an exorbitant price turned into quite a mission. But we eventually found a lovely little wine bar that offered decent food and very good wine. The couple next to us decided to try one of their wine tasting selections and were given 1/2 dozen glasses which were at least equivalent to a full bottle! They and the people on the table next to them turned out to be Americans who were equally stunned by quite how busy and even more over-commercialised Venice has become over the past 15-20 years and had sought out somewhere a little quieter and more authentic.
After lunch we crossed the Academia bridge into Dorsodoro. We walked up to Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana. It was infinitely quieter on that side of the Grand Canal, so we decided to stay over there for the rest of the afternoon before ambling back to the station. At one point we came across a phenomenal busker playing the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on wine glasses. It was also clear that we were wandering through the more residential districts. And who knew there was even a 60s built university campus over there?
On the train home, we talked about whether we had simply had a rose-tinted view of the city as it was where we spent our honeymoon. However, our lunchtime conversations confirmed that others had the same view. And we overheard a number of people as we were walking round complaining of the crowds and commercialisation, so clearly it is not just us. At one point Mark questioned whether the Venice hotel in Las Vegas may not now be more authentic!