1971: June 7, Marina di Venezia

Woke at ungodly hour of 6.30 and had a hasty breakfast before a mad dash to the Punta Sabbioni to catch the 7.40am ferry. Panic at the last minute as David leapt on seconds before they cast off! (“You can’t go yet, our dad isn’t on” said Andrew sternly to the boatman!). Boat mostly full of locals going to work in Lido or Venice, only a sprinkling of tourists. The big, slower boat is appreciably cheaper than the little direct one, we discovered, and wished we had known before as it is much nicer to be on anyway.

Venice beautifully cool and empty when we arrived, and wove our way to theh Rialto, via a bank (at 8.30am!) and seeing a procession of Angry Young Men (Venetian style) demonstrating about something – very difficult in a place like Venice, all narrow little streets. Beat our familiar way through the markets, getting some more cherries and tiny strawberries, slices of coconut, 3 soles from ‘our’ fish man, and some scampi – noted for deliciousness in Venice – for us. All manner of live snails there today, sea snails, but we did not fancy any, or the live eels. Children mesmerised by the man with 2 baskets of tortoises. Had a coffee, visited a lovely cool classical church (S Salvatori) and crossed the Grand Canal by gondola ferry, feeling true Venetians, (2 gondoliers work this and it’s not quite as glamorous as the Gondola Ride, but it’s a lovely way of cross the water!). Bought Gareth his little aeroplane, then went to St Marks, and went inside this time.

The golden mosaics of the ceiling really are fantastic, it’s a pity the interior is a bit murky and you cannot see them glitter properly. We liked a side chapel especially, with a barrel roof and especially nice mosaics. Then to the Doge’s Palace – closed – so out to St Marks Campanile, and up to the top by lift . View from here spectacular, right across the lagoon, and with good sight of the main islands. Underneath, all the red roofs of Venice huddled together, with glimpses of washing and gardens on some of the biggest. Not a canal in sight except the Grand Canal – houses are too tall, and side canals too narrow to show them. Enormous bells in the Campanile, all gagged and bound – I wonder when – and if – they ring.

Then after a chat with some nice Americans, down in the lift and on a loo hunt. Don’t the Italians have any public W.C.s? Eventually located a classy one – expensive too, but who’s going to quibble when desperate?  Then had an expensive snack by the Grand Canal, and walked along the ‘Prom’. Saw various people feeding the famous Venetian cats, with Italian Kit-E-Kat, fish etc. One cat looked remarkably like a Burmese.

Then to our boat, from which we had a fascinating view of the command ship, a battleship, of the 6th Fleet (USS Springfield). They were piping various dignitaries aboard, and obviously some kind of reception was going on under the smart white awning in the stern. Helicopter at the other end, and ship was plastered with important looking equipment. Andrew very interested to have such a good view of a real battleship – there was a destroyer there as well.

Back to the camp, cooked their sole, and ate my lasagne bought at a super cooked food shop, like the one we saw in Vicenza. What a change from take-away Chinese, and fish and chips! Various pasta dishes, mushroom salad, Russian salad, chickens, terrines, gnocchi alla romana, beans, tomato salad, cheeses and endless cooked meats and sausages.

Did some washing, then a farewell visit to the beach and last swim in the warm Adriatic. Sarah’s arms much better so she had a swim too. It’s a lovely beach – lovely smooth sand, and all kept tidy with regular raking. Not a bit crowded at this time of the year either.

Then some packing before the evening rains – got quite well on – but it’s complicated trying to assess food and clothes needs for the next 5 days! (for 5 of us…). Had our Venetian scampi and they were very succulent.

That night we had a terrible thunderstorm – right overhead and everything seemed to vibrate. Rains torrential – heaven help anyone who comes to the Mediterranean with a cheap tent thinking they won’t get rain. Ours was might wet.


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