Valentine’s in Venice

Gill and I in Venice

On a bridge. Somewhere.

Today there would be boats. The travel tickets sold by the hotel could be used on the buses or the vaporetti – the water-borne transport service that circles the islands of Venice. We wanted to head for Murano and see the glass museum, and hopefully some glasswork being made.

According to the map, we needed to catch the number 42 boat from near where our bus would drop us off. A slight confusion due to the piers being rebuilt meant that it took us a while to figure out where the 42 ran from but we got there a couple of minutes before the next one was due.

It didn’t show up. Today we discovered that there are lies, damned lies and Venetian Water Bus timetables.

The number 41 (same service, running in the opposite direction) went past. As did the next 41 when the following 42 failed to make an appearance.

Giving up, we walked 150m round to the stop for the 41. The next one was indicated on the digital board as being due in 9 minutes, and would take 56 more minutes of our time to get to Murano. The 42 would have taken nearer 20.


A balcony in Venice. One of many!

Quarter of an hour later, the 42 we’d decided not to wait for drifted past as we stood tapping our feet wondering where the delayed 41 had got to.

I suppose in a way it’s comforting to know that regardless of where you are in Europe, whether you’re waiting for something on wheels or with a propellor, that public transport sucks and should never be trusted. Unfortunately in Venice, it’s not like you have the option of walking or driving to Murano due to it being somewhat wet.

At least the hour-long journey meant we got value for our ticket money and a chance to see a huge amount of the region from the coastline. A shame the weather was a little grey (and chillier than the previous day), but had it been blue skies I think we would have sweltered in the boat.

We finally arrived at Murano and had a quick look round the glass museum. It was a little bit of a let-down as Gill was really hoping to see a lot more on the history of how the material is made and crafted. It was more a display of the end products. Still, there’s some interesting stuff about the manugfacturing process and some incredibly delicate work dating back almost 2000 years which did impress. The museum’s entry fee is a fairly steep €8.30 per person, too.

Crowds in Venice

Crowds in St Marc's Square

Finding somewhere to watch glass being blown wasn’t very easy, surprisingly. Most of the places advertising “furnace” kept it away from prying eyes, but we did find one eventually. The two chaps working there were making what looked like decorations for chandeliers, or perhaps candle holders. Interesting to see, but obviously we couldn’t get too close.

The showroom there was also too tempting for Gill and she found several pieces that appealed. One was finally haggled over, purchased, engraved with our names and the date, and packed away to be lugged all the way home.

We headed back to the city centre area for a lunch that turned into dinner when we realised what time it was. Again, the food was good (though Gill has decided pasta is too salty for her in Venice), the service excellent, but in this case the price somewhat higher. While our previous place had been service and cover charge-free, this one had mark-ups (fairly advertised) and higher base prices.

Still, it was a pleasant meal and we walked off in the directon of the Rialto Bridge that we had so far failed to locate.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition

Leo da Vinci's hang glider

The rest of the day into the early evening consisted of wandering randomly again. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition that I’d thought had closed in December. It turns out it has been extended an extra year and, despite the €8 entry fee, was excellent. Great descriptions of the exhibits and very “hands on” with a lot of working examples based on his diagrams. The place could have done with a heater or two, though.

We then managed to “take the scenic route” back to the bus station via Dorsodura which we’d intended to visit earlier, but never got round to it. Well, we’ve now seen most of it.

Despite the huge meal earlier, we decided to have a snack in the hotel. The set Valentine’s menu appealed to Gill a little too much, though, and we ended up having a full meal instead. Bizarrely, the entire set menu – every option with the exception of the dessert – was seafood-based so I had the roast beef instead. Advertised as “English”, it came cold and very rare… and was delicious.

We demolished another bottle of wine, well we were in Italy – it would have been rude not to – and headed to bed to watch Bandslam. Which apparently was better than Bad Taste. I am dating a wonderful philistine.

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