As soon as work was out this past Friday, we set out for the Oslo Airport Gardermoen. We had packed our finest weekend garments and were in vacation mode. We cruised on the highway listening to tunes and expressing our excitement about the upcoming weekend adventure.
We were on our way to Venice!
For our one year wedding anniversary earlier this year, Kyler surprised me with tickets to Venice. The trip was nicely planned around the weekend of our eight year together anniversary. On our trip south, we had a stop-over in Amsterdam. We had just enough time for a beer and a chat with friendly Dutch people before continuing on. At the Marco Polo airport just outside of Venice, we waited for Kyler’s luggage to show up. Eventually, we figured it just did not make the trip and were about to report it to the airline. Then, we were informed that some of the luggage had come out at the other end of the terminal. No excuses. Just like that. Being used to Scandinavian system and order, we were rather surprised and had to laugh when an Italian in the same situation said: “Welcome to Italy!” We proceeded, luggage in one hand and each other’s hand in the other, to the boat that would take us to The City of Water.
Romantic Venice is set in the armpit of the Adriatic Sea. It is spread out over 118 little islands all separated by 177 canals and linked by 409 bridges. There is a road and railway connection from mainland Italy to Piazzale de Roma at the northern edge of the city, but beyond that, all transport is done by foot or by water. Exactly like it has been for centuries! This makes Venice the largest urban area in Europe with no car traffic. Oh, what a joy!
In Norwegian, we say that a loved child has many names. That must be the case with Venice. In addition to being called the City of Water, it is referred to as “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”, all of which are true. Oh, I would like to add one: “The Romantic Haven”.
The Grand Canal snakes its way through the city and is the main transport vein. Public transport boats, called vaporetto, have frequent stops.
The gondole, that Venice is famous for, are used for crossing straight across the canal, for tourists and special occasions. They are pricey, but it is a must in Venice. When in Rome… No, I mean Venice. (I know, I know!)
It is convenient that our together-since-anniversary is in November. November can be a fairly unpleasant month in the North. Darkness and cold temperatures are creeping up on you until there is only a little bit of day light left and you find yourself wrapped up, surprised that winter is marching in this year as well. So, just because of that, going South in November feels like a little pocket of fresh air. A chance for the skin to take a deep long breath before going into hibernation for the winter. We soaked up the sun as much as we could! Outdoor pasta meal in the sun. Italian gelato in the sun. Bubbly Prosecco in the sun. No shortage on reasons for being in the sun!
On Sunday, we strolled over to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It is an art collection displayed in Peggy Guggenheim’s former residence by the Grand Canal. She belonged to The Guggenheim family that made their fortune from mining. Peggy married the artist Max Ernst and started buying art. The collection is spectacular. Big names like Picasso, Monet, Dalí, Braque, Duchamp, Léger, Miró, and Pollock are on the walls.
One morning, when walking to the Piazza San Marco, we were surprised by all the water covering the square. We had heard rumors that Venice is sinking, but had no idea it was this bad on a normal high tide! As a reaction, the city puts up elevated walk ways and clever entrepreneurs have produced and started selling water tight, knee high plastic socks allowing you to wade across the square, while restaurant owners and shop keepers are desperately sweeping the water away from their shops. There are several reasons behind the acqua alta (high water), mostly all created by man. It is said that the city is sinking five times faster than earlier expected and that much of it will be permanently under water not too far into the future. There are plans of a flood barrier system to prevent this, but it seems to still be years away.
For some reason, there are lots of pigeons in Venice. They poop. Once on my hand. Once on Kyler’s head. Probably other times too, but not on us.
As the sun was setting, we were sitting on a dock sipping Prosecco and enjoying ourselves to the extreme. What a cool world we live in and how incredibly fortunate we are who get to see (some of) it!
Bye Bye from Venice! We are back in Norway and the weekend feels like it was just a glorious dream!