Our last night in Rovinj and because we had to make an early start we decided to stay in town. I chose a place as close to the departure point as I could. It was expensive but I thought it was good choice, that is until we got there. There are always steps in Rovinj but these were impressive- a fall and it was definitely a stairway to heaven.
Departure was at 7:45 on board the catamaran…. Held about two or three hundred people. Two hours across the Adriatic and then an hour in the Venetian lagoon.
Getting on board was a bit of a free for all but it all worked. We had inadvertently joined a Kompass day trip -Rovinj to Venice return. Much of the time on the journey we were addressed in English, German and Croatian by guides selling their add-ons- the taxi boat to San Marco, a walking tour of San Marco and the ‘unique’ gondola tour. The guides gave us a very interesting history lesson on Venice and when they mentioned that it was the home of the ‘Vituvian Man’ John and I resolved to find that museum and pay it a visit.
I ended up sitting beside a young Ukranian woman from Kiev with her young son. It was well into the three hour trip before I established communication with her. They were cocooned in each other’s space. They had been provided with shelter and food for a month by the Croatian government but now had to move on. Her husband remained in Kiev. She was about to join her parents in Budapest. Her first language was Russian and she spoke Ukranian and English (some) but did not want to speak Russian again. I guessed her son’s age at six and she smiled and acknowledged my guess but when she told me she had recently lost a two year old in a car accident I was just lost. I cannot imagine a horror like that. I was silenced. I suddenly understood her cocoon.
Our arrival in Venice went smoothly. The Italian customs officers did their thing and we were delayed just enough time to let the plebs know who was in charge. Everything seemed to move along just a bit faster when the second boat with its equivalent 300 passengers rolled in.
It was hot but we found the vaporetto number 2 and jumped aboard. It was crowded. It was seven euro fifty each to get to San Marco. I assumed John paid. He didn’t. We arrived and it was only a three minute walk to our hotel. It was hot!!! We were early but they took our luggage and invited us to return in a couple of hours. We decide to lunch. There were innumerable places to choose from around the hotel and we just happened to sit adjacent to Rosco and Michelle from Sydney. Rosco was into stocks and Michelle had just resigned from teaching after twenty-six years. John ‘diplomatically’ mentioned that QLD had won the State of Origin and that a Queenslander had also taken home the British Open in golf. Just a little state rivalry!!! We engaged in light banter. It was fun.
Our hotel was brilliantly located beside and behind the Hotel Danieli, a wonderful place for an afternoon aperitif.
We seriously needed that when we discovered that the Galerie Academia only shows the Vitruvian Man for a very limited time every five to seven years- and this was not one of them!!!! We went in anyway and were seriously overwhelmed with the insanely massive examples of twelfth to seventeenth century religious art and then we were exposed to work by Anjah Kapoor which we both found really disturbing. We had to leave!!!
Venice was overwhelmed, over touristed and over loved. Next year they are introducing a ‘visitor’s tax’. If it reduces the numbers well and good. It is just insane!!!! I don’t think any Italians live there at all, just tourists in hotels, hospitality workers and South Asian stall owners. Despite that – it is still glorious and I am glad we had two nights. We ‘mooched’- a Rick Stein description for wandering aimlessly. Very appropriate!
After a serious day of wandering we had to revisit the Danieli, this time the lounge area for a wine.
The vapoetto to the airport takes an hour and a half and cost fifteen euro each but it is easy, especially as we were located just off San Marco Square and only a two minute walk.
The thing about the San Marco Aeroporto is you either know your way around or …you should. Maybe signage is offensive to the Italians, I am not sure but we inadvertently ended up in security with all our luggage. It wasn’t until we had to grab a tray that we realised!!! What the…!! That has never happened before!!!
It was resolved. We eventually found the ‘bag drop’ and returned to security and of course having been through once, created a dilemma. Again it was resolved!!! I wonder if it is the Italian way to create problems so that they can prove how resourceful and clever they are at resolving them!!!
It was imperative that this flight sequence worked. Initially I thought I had booked a flight from Venice to Porto via Nice but no that is not what I had done. In fact I had two flights- one to Nice and the next to Porto. When we arrived in Nice we had just under 90 minutes to disembark, collect our luggage, find the departures, drop off our bags, go through security and immigration then find our gate. No sweat!!! We frantically achieved this with minutes to spare only to discover the flight would be delayed by one and a half hours- lucky it was this one and not one from Venice. We would be OK. John being a Provence freak was tempted to buy half the products available at Nice airport. He didn’t mind the delay at all.
Our driver, Jesus, met us in Porto with a smile and a cell phone with my name. He was amazing. During the worst of the pandemic he was a truck driver. There were times when he would travel 500km without seeing a soul. He once counted fifty-four ambulances lined up at the hospital at Porto. He was a tenor and sang Opera. He had many friends in the hospitality industry and many had lost everything- their livelihoods, their family, their homes and many their lives. Suicide was prevalent in this industry when these people could not provide for their families they found no alternative. It was so sad.
He was such a proud man and willingly shared his knowledge of Porto and the iconic Fado. As an opera singer he was familiar with all the greats and launched into a serious discussion on the different styles and the aficionados of the genre none of which we understood but politely nodded and smiled at the right time. It’s important to give a good impression.
We had arrived. Our location was amazing. We were in for a treat!