I like to write about being a tourist/traveler using a bicycle. But biking is illegal in Venice, regardless, it’s impossible to actually ride there. I visited Venice in 2013, but at that time I was pretty road weary after 4.5 months biking on the road. I hid in my room, worked on the blog and enjoyed the air conditioning. When I left I took the train, to Slovenia, and the rest is history.
It’s only a 2.5 hr drive to Venice from Ljubljana, we used GO-OPTI, by the time you pay gas and parking, it’s about the same and we didn’t have to drive!
SOME QUICK VENICE HISTORY
Venice is in a lagoon, that early settlers used for safety from the many invasions, the first time being in 421 AD. Venice consists of 117 islands with 150 canals and 438 bridges. It was built on 10 million trees logged in Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro. The trees were stuck into the mud and built up from there. The logs are totally immersed in the salt water, that’s why they don’t rot (no oxygen), the logs actually get harder by petrifying. Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant from 1271-1295. Attila the Hun or Attila the Destroyer, of whom it was said that where he stepped grass never grew again; Attila the Scourge of God, who declared that he would cross over into Italy to hunt, and when they asked him what he would hunt, said with a brutal laugh, “Hunt? What should I hunt, but Romans?”. Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the region between 1796-97. It’s so interesting to visit the actual places that I read about in history class growing up.
VENICE WITH NATASA
I suggested to Natasa that we celebrate our 1 year anniversary in Venice, Valentines Weekend! We waited until after the Venice Carnival. I made a reservation at the Hotel I stayed at last time,( because I was too old for the Hostel part of the building}. Natasha’s friends accuse her of being with a hippy and that she’s becoming one too. We brought our hot water pot and made coffee in our room, coffee it turns out is 4 euro & no free re-fills. We brought homemade granola and shopped for some yogurt and fruit. We used our window ledge as the refrigerator. The internet was timed for a 1/2 hour, then you had to log in again. Made watching the Blazer game a little frustrating.
Last time I was here, I never figured out the boat system (because I was hiding in my room). This time I wanted to go to Murano Island, where the famous glass blowing workshops are. You can buy a 24 hour boat (bus) pass for 20 euro.
I find the tourist information people, train tickets, boat tickets whatever., short and not very helpful. We ended up taking the long way around to Murano, down the Grand Canal, then out through the Lagoon. It was beautiful, but we ended up at Murano at lunch time so there were no glass demonstrations. There’s a boat a 2 minute walk from our hotel where you can catch a non-stop boat to Murano (next time ;). We went to Burano Island too, with it’s Pastel painted buildings. The best photo was one that Natasha took on the boat ride back.
The next day Natasa thought we would like to walk the entire Eastside of Venice. My friend Emily from Portland, thought I should see the Biennale part of Venice, the extreme southeast. By the time we got there, I could hardly walk. We took the boat back to San Marcos. When I think Italy I always think Mafia (movies like the Godfather). There’s the Gondola mafia, 80 euro for 25 minutes, I read they make $150,000 a year. The rights to be a gondola provider are handed down through generations.
The last day we just walked to San Marco Square, up the tower, ate some awesome street pizza.
After our time in Venice I really felt like there was more I wanted to see. When we got back I told Natasa that I wanted to go back. Her response “maybe we can go back in a year” I said I was thinking like next week. So I found a window of 4 days and headed back.
EXPLORING VENICE BY MYSELF
I headed towards my familiar hotel from last time, but I thought how much I disliked the 1/2 hour internet, so I walked up the stairs to HOTEL ADUA. That turned out to be a great decision. I got a nice room for 30 euro a night (winter rates). Unlimited & password free internet, just that is worth it. They had a small kitchen where you can have a 5 euro breakfast, I had my french press coffee cup, they had hot water & coffee!. It’s also just a five minute walk from the train station.
Now that I’m familiar with the boats, I grabbed the non-stop boat to Murano. I get off at the first stop, Colonna. In 1291 the they moved the glass foundries to Murano, because of the fear of fire burning down wooden Venice. Winter travel can be the best. The first gallery CAM VERTI D ARTE sr 1 I was the only one in the store, so the salesman walked me a talked me through 3 floors with probably 4 rooms on each floor, FULL of amazing glass work. They had some tourist priced pieces, but the real art was there too, in abundance. The pieces ranged in price from 5,000 to 150,000 euro. I asked who famous has shopped here? Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio I thought so. Your not allowed to take photos inside the glass shops. I took a few photos of pieces from the sidewalk. One shop owner told me the Asians come in, take photos, go home “Made in China”! I went to 4 different workshops, 2 were for tourist and 2 seemed like actual working shops.
I wanted to see where the James Bond Movie, “CASINO ROYALE” was filmed. A few failed attempts, but soon I found it, across the Grand Canal, from the Rialto Farmers Market. Something that’s very Venice is called bacari, A wine bar with french bread appetizers called, cicheto. The first time with Natasa she wouldn’t have any, since she (nor I ) drink eating was really our only option. It’s the best Venice experience. She stood and watched me eat, it wasn’t that fun. So I went alone and stayed and enjoyed multiple places & many cichero’s. I really liked vini Al Bottegton, seems like the local hangout. I come upon a funeral in progress, by boat. I went to the glass museum for the “free” tour, no free tours in the winter, sometimes winter travel has drawbacks. I looked into taking a mask making workshop, next time (like next winter), Leonardo Di Caprio took a mask making class, then so should I.
Having an old building here in Skofja Loka I have sympathy for “historical” town owners. There is always maintenance, but here you have to contend with the water.
I had 4 great days here, the weather was awesome. The last day it was the rainy and windy winter weather I had been told about. I sat in a coffee shop and watched people come around a corner and their umbrellas would turn inside out. One after another, I sat inside with the souvenir guys from Bangladesh just laughing and laughing. Every garbage can in Venice had broken umbrellas in them.
IS VENICE SINKING?
Yes, but it’s also being swamped by a rising ocean. The sinking was caused by the pumping of fresh water, which they stopped in the 60’s. The boat’s waves also wash away the salt mashes that are supporting the trees, that support the city. On top of the wood pilings, are marble building foundations. The marble resist the salt water and on top of that is brick. They used brick because it’s lighter, but it is also porous and absorbs the salt water during storm surges and high tides. Which can occur as many as 100 times a year. The salt eats the brick, they are repairing the results of Climate Change, but not the causes. There are plans for inflatable barriers to block dangerous tides at the 3 ocean inlets to the lagoon. There are problems with that too. Some older buildings use the canals as the sewer system, that is cleaned out twice a day with the tides. If they block that natural flow, Venice might start to stink some. They better do something soon, here’s a few PHOTOS of San Marco Square during the flooding and a video.
That was my 2 trips to Venice in February. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Go see Venice, I loved it and “I’ll be back”
Take Care and Ride Your Bike while you can.
Next, The plans to make Skojfa Loka an Active Tourist Destination, visiting Postojna Caves
Going somewhere? Try one of the 10 places named as most ethical travel destinations from Salon.
The ethics of air travel
One thing to consider is the ethical dilemma of air travel itself; for many of us, getting on a plane is likely our most serious ecological offense. “One roundtrip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person,” writes New York Times environment reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal. “The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10.”
Nearly a decade ago, New York Times writer John Tierney put the impact of flying in terms of recycling plastic bottles. “To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger roundtrip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles” in coach (or up to 100,000 for business or first-class seats, adjusting for the additional space pricier seats take up). So if you’ve permitted yourself the significant upsizing of your carbon footprint that air travel will bring, choose coach. Your impact will be less than twice that of someone in business or first class.