The morning in Innsbruck was c.o.l.d – especially since I had dressed in skirt and sleeveless top for the afternoon in Venice and so were most others and so after a real quick breakfast we started to Venice. A long long drive while we all sang (I sang O Saathi Re and hubby and I both sang ‘Pehela Nasha’).We also played Housie where I won the full house!
We saw the scenery change from Snow covered mountains to smaller mountains and sun flower farms and bales of hay.By then all signs of clouds and winds and cold had vanished to be replaced by HOT sun. We took 1 stop in Italy (remember the driver has to stop after every 2-2.5hrs?) and then went to lunch in main city of Venice. We then drove to the dock yard and took a pre booked cruise to the Old Island of Venice which today just remains as a tourist
attraction and not many people actually live there.
We saw the ST.Mark’s Square (pigeon square),the zodiac clock and the bell tower of the church, the Bridge of Sighs
(saaaiiiiiggghhhhs as the tour guide put it) and then we were rushed to the Murano glass factory-actually Murano is another island town but for the sake of tourists they had shifted the factory to the island of Venice itself. They showed us how they heat the glass and make models out of them which actually wasnt very impressive – I have seen them in India too and they do a much better job of showing how it is done here. I remember buying one such delicate pair of glass ear-rings from Mahabalipuram. And then they just let you loose and start selling jewellery stuff. Somehow though I wanted to buy glass mosaic ear-rings,nothing appealed to me that day-either the way they were showcasing or the crowd and limited time, or the thought that ‘These are so expensive and its just glass at the end of the day, I would rather spend my money somewhere else’.So despite looking and looking, I didnt buy a thing.
We walked out from there and then we were taken for the Gondola ride. 7 gondolas were exclusively booked for us-5/6 in each. So it was a lot of fun, looking at the smart italian gondola men (drivers is the wrong word for them, no?) and just looking at the gondolas as we got into them.
[Warning! For those who ever want to go to Venice and have Romantic expectations of the ride- skip the coming sentences and go directly to the next paragraph] I had huge expectations of romance of the Gondola ride but unfortunately the stark reality quite brought me back to earth 😦 The place where we get into the Gondola smells of
stagnant water. Through out the ride, the canals are just about 6/8 feet wide and we can see the plaster coming out of the buildings, green moss,red exposed bruiks of the old buildings and drainage system coming out of the buildings right into the water you are riding in. Still, you look up,you see some bright flower balconies,cloth boutiques on the water
front,pretty houses.They have these huge concave mirrors at every blind corner for the Gondola riders to know if any other gondola is coming from that direction – can you imagine a gondola traffic jam? 🙂 It was a good 45 mins ride and they just take us a short distance on the Grand Canal which is actually quite wide but mostly its in the narrow canals that the ride is. We even saw one colourful flower Gondola with a couple having lunch/champagne with a live musician. Now THAT might have been romantic! 😉
Once done with that ride,we had about an hour’s time until 6.20pm to meet the rest of the crowd. So we went souvenir shopping-bought glass beaded jewellery for MIL (She loves such beads and artificial jewellery) for her Bday in her fave color of green.And then walked around searching for a good Ceramic Venetian Mask which was a must buy from there. We ambled along so many shops which had beautiful stuff but all way above our range of budget. And I was not at all ready to buy a plastic mask – ceramic/paper mache it HAD to be – because that was authentic and hand made. So we found a shop where the girl explained very well and we got a discount of 5 euros (im not sure if it was an eye-wash, but still) She even gave us an authentic ‘made in italy’ card for it :-).I actually had 1 male and 1 female mask in mind but we werent getting even a single one for 20euros so I compromised on 1 good mask. She explained Purple was for prosperity and blue for calmness etc etc; we liked one in Red and Gold with bells hung on the top – small but very nice which we thought would even suit our brown wall as a partner to the South African mask we already have 😀 And she was so happy with out choice! She said most people went for Blue or Green or Purple because it looked grander but Red depicted Love and Gold for Peace and the Bells for Good luck and we have made a good choice – that also please us and we happily bought it from there 😀 Then I also had to buy a gondola model from there – so we also bought a paper mache’ gondola for 5 euros (the 5 that we thought we had saved) spending 30 euros at the shop. It was 6.10 by then and
we just rushed to the meeting spot only to find nobody there. While waiting for everyone, I saw another small street side shop who had these chotu masks as magnets and I also wanted one Italy magnet-so bought them both spending another 7/8 euros there. And still there was no sign of anyone! Then the thought struck us that the others might have already gone ahead and it was just the 5 of us who were waiting here and we started walking towards the pier from where we were supposed to take the boat back to main land. Then we saw the tour guide coming towards us and he informed us that they all were already in the boat since 6.20 and waiting for us-they all had nothing to shop there… Back to the main land and to the bus for an hour’s drive to Padova where we halted for the night.
Oh! Before signing off this day, I must mention this-the clothes people wore in Italy. We were so much clothed! girls in
low hanging 4 inch long shorts with their G-strings showing, transparent or barely there T- shirts and men in colourful loose shirts and printed shorts. I immediately made up my mind that I would buy something like those printed shirts and shorts for Chuktu 🙂 who had begun to torture me with his thoughts all the time by then. I was ready to go home…