Sunday, November 16, 2008

Frolicking with the Pigeons at St Mark's Square

With only 2 days in Venice, time was very limited. There wasn't time for us to rest and relax at one of its quaint cafes in the morning or get lost (and still find it fun, like in Rome) in the streets of Venice. So it was quite annoying to find ourselves hopelessly lost while navigating the complex streets of Venice. Our destination? St Mark's Square. Time taken to get there? Give or take, an hour on foot (which would probably be much shorter if we weren't lost).

The streets were dizzily difficult to navigate, the alleys were a confusing array of turns and forced detours, the street names were unreliable, so the map was unhelpful. You may wonder why we did not simply take a vaporetto or water bus there. Well, honestly, I cannot remember why. Could be because we thought St Mark's within walkable distance, and we wanted to experience strolling through the streets of Venice. Getting lost wasn't really that bad, it's just that getting lost meant we were late in queuing to get into the cathedral at St Mark's, and time was tight enough as it is - that unfortunately we hadn't time to visit other famous Venetian sights, before leaving for the train to Interlaken in the early evening. :-(

Here are some sights seen en route to St Mark's.

One of the bridges across the Grand Canal (not Rialto Bridge, seen further below)

On the steps of the bridge

Venetian lace is very famous and sought after

Street stall selling Venetian masks

One of the little canals in Venice

One of the alleys that leads to St Mark's eventually

St Mark's square - just look at the crowds. You can't take a snapshot anywhere without capturing other tourists as well. Oh well...

St Mark's church

The crowd numbers, it's staggering

Facade of St Mark's Church

Owing to the snaking crowd, we decided not to join the queue into the church. As a consoling thought , we say to ourselves, we had seen enough churches in Rome and Florence anyway. hah. And so we took pictures and frolicked with the flocks of pigeons at the square instead. The pigeons were definitely not people-shy, when it comes to food!

Cute little boy feeding some lucky pigeons french fries

Ms Rehau has a pigeon eating out of her hand. Literally.

Breaking up the larger biscuit crumbs on the floor helped us earn the pigeons' gratitude

There was also a miniature 'performance' by the clockwork constellation clock at the square. It is really quite a pretty clock, quite comparable to the one in Berne (which I will post in my subsequent posts).

At the edge of St Mark's square is a boat quay where numerous gondolas were docked. We would have loved to sit in one of those, except that it would have been too ridiculously expensive.

'Docked' gondolas

Ms Rehau's a fan of Roger Federa, the former World no. 1.
He happens to be gracing the billboard in St Mark's for Rolex

After dallying a while, we attempted to make our way back to our hostel. Yes, we got lost again. Here are the sights we saw along the way.

Rialto Bridge

Scenery from Rialto Bridge

The bazaar down Rialto bridge

In the morning, this place was a flurry of wet market activities

Since we couldn't ride on a gondola, Mr Irish reckons, he could at least pose with one

We couldn't walk past an authentic venetian mask shop without taking pictures and trying on the masks. Mr Irish couldn't resist getting a mask for himself, reasoning to himself that he might need it for some masquerade party. Most likely nothing to do with the fact that we mentioned he looked better with the mask on. haha.

Look at the dazzling variety of masks!

A shop selling Murano glass pendants and accessories

We really oughtn't be distracted by shops and sights since we were in danger of running late in catching our train. In any case, we walked at a break-neck speed towards our hostel once we figured the way back (from asking locals a few times along the way).

Once we collected our backpacks/luggages, we hurried to the train station. Truth to be told, dragging a suitcase along cobble-stoned paths at high speed wasn't quite a piece of cake for me, but I managed to do it anyway. At the risk of running late, we stopped by a deli to grab some sandwiches to take on the train for lunch. The train journey would run to several hours, there's no way any of us could stand not eating for that long.

There is an anecdote that I want to relate, just before I end this post.

Before we set out for St Mark's, we stopped by the train station to make inquiries about the train routes that would take us to Interlaken. The guy at the ticket office was the most unfriendly local we've met so far on this journey. As we were on a tight budget, we needed to know which routes would cost the least to get to our destination and hence we asked about the various options and the cost. At some point, this guy got irritated, and actually said this,"You want to know what's the cheapest way to get to Interlaken? You walk." Our jaws dropped - we were dumbfounded by this guy's rudeness. Seriously, is this what customer service is about? If so, then they are going to lose a lot of business from such brusque service. As if this wasn't enough, he had the gall to ask us if we were from Korea (a lot of Koreans visit Europe, something we noticed during this trip), probably ready to stereotype us in his minds. Anyway, we didn't bother to grace with him with an answer and bought our tickets (although we'd rather take our business elsewhere, we really did not have the luxury of time to queue up again to get tickets).

This was by far the most unpleasant experience we've encountered so far in Italy, but it does not by any means, detract the pleasures and wonder we've experienced in the country, nor will we forget the friendly locals we've met before this encounter. I am definitely NOT going to pigeon-hole the locals, unlike what that rude man tried to do, simply from this single, unpleasant experience.

Venice, in retrospective, is a wonderfully charming and romantic city (what city with numerous waterways and bridges wouldn't be?). With alarming reports that Venice might be sinking to its demise (I think with advances in technology, they should be able to delay or prevent this), I was glad to have visited this city.

Highlight of the day was frolicking with the pigeons, not that I mind. =)


somepinkflowers said...

great photos!

i stayed very near the market
you showed here
everyday i bought apples there
for my day*pack!


thanks for sending me
the link!

I plan to go back in 2014
i can be $$$ mindful
and save!

Fleurgal said...

Thanks! ;) The photos aren't very much compared to yours. Really, you stayed near that market, fresh fruits every day - cool!

Good luck in your savings plan and I hope you get to go Venice once more in 2014!


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