Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Venice ~ Grand Canal ~ Italy

We arrived in Venice by train after a relaxing day spent enjoying the wonderful scenery from Paris.  Our luggage was on the same car with us so disembarking takes a very short time.  The trains drive right into the station so once we were off the train, a short walk takes us right through the station and outside.

Our first sighting of the Grand Canal in Venice
We all have different expectations of these wonderful cities we’ve only read and heard about but there was a lot of excitement for us as my sister had been before and loved it; her excitement was contagious!  Within a few moments we were looking at the Grand Canal.  It really seemed like a magical moment.  
Busy traffic on the Grand Canal

There was lots of activity on the water, adding to the excitement we felt, with all kinds of boats travelling in every direction on the narrow waterways.  It is hard to believe that there may not be many accidents here but we’ll trust that they all know what they’re doing and we soon learn that they do, we did not even see any close calls during our visit.
One of many waterways in Venice, Italy

We followed directions we’d been given, bought a ticket for the right water boat and got in for our first adventure in Venice, a ride on the Grand Canal.  It was warm and muggy on this September evening and we were anxious to get to our hotel so we could get back out for some sightseeing, so much to see.
Canals, sidewalks and bridges in Venice, Italy

The boat ride was very short and dropped us off to walk to the hotel from there.  The directions were fairly clear and after following a quiet sidewalk, crossing a footbridge and walking through a tunnel, we have arrived.   
The Square of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice
We arrived to our hotel in the square, the Locanda del Ghetto where we would be staying for the next few days. This photo shows a gazebo at the far end tended to by guards.  We were later to learn that since 9/11, the Jewish Ghetto has chosen to hire guards 24 hours a day and they quietly patrol this square to keep it safe. I will share more of this interesting historical neighborhood on another page.
Locanda del Ghetto in Venice, Italy

We soon learn not to judge a hotel by the exterior on first sight.  We are greeted by a very nice young man who opens the door of this nine room hotel for us and although he speaks with very broken English, is able to welcome us to the hotel.  Our rooms have very modern plumbing and a comfortable bed, we were very happy with it.  This location proved to be great choice, also, as it was quiet which isn’t easy to find in the main commercial part of this city.   
The view from our window in the Locanda del Ghetto Inn

The most exciting thing about our room happened when we opened the inside shutters of the two windows.  We were on a canal and were able to watch the occasional gondola pass by when we took a few minutes to enjoy the quiet outside our windows.  As it turns out, most places are on a canal but in that moment, we had our very own canal and that was great!
Boat launching outside our window

We found that even when there were boats passing, they were very quiet, as was our whole neighborhood.  We did watch as a boat was brought out of storage through a doorway across from us but it seems that most boats are parked along the canal at night.
Calm canal and quiet evening walks in Venice
Our unpacking of bags could wait and we were eager to be outside and do some exploring before the sun disappeared and the night was quiet.  We found a nice little restaurant nearby to eat dinner at before it closed.  Most European restaurants serve late dinners but our quiet neighborhood ones seemed to close earlier, or perhaps when they decided it was time.
Our arrival in Venice was perfect and we looked forward to spending a few days of exploring this wonderful city, which I will share with you, as well.
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