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The enchanted canals of Venice


We were going back to Venice after 20 years. Twenty years ago we had visited, back packing across Europe with a Eurorail pass too. But this time we took the one country pass which lets you onto the high speed trains only if you reserve your seat. In the height of summer, Italy is a favourite tourist destination and is crowded with tourists from across the globe, so reserving a seat is a wise move. And anyway a reservation just costs 10 Euros.

Twenty years ago we had gone to Venice when it was winter and so it was dank and grey and the canals looked disappointingly dull. But we came away with Venetian crystals and thatís where my love affair with deep orange coloured corals began. This time we were in Venice in the spring so there was no time to be cooped up shopping. We decided to see the city again, but this time on foot. We had booked a hotel just a ten minute walk from the Mestre Station which is Veniceís Ďotherí station on the mainland. But to see the sights one has to take a train to Santa Lucia which is located on the island of Venice. Again just a one euro ticket from the Tabbachi had us ferried across in minutes after we had dumped our back packs in the room.

Coming out of the Santa Lucia station we were startled by the unexpectedness of the gondolas, canals and the artistic bridges just beyond the steps leading to the station. The afternoon sun glinted on the steel tips of the moored iconic gondolas, which are used mainly to ferry tourists on romantic cruises down the Grand canal. Rather than use a water taxi, we decided to walk, since we were advised that walking along the grand- canal lets us see the tourist shops full of trinkets and also enjoy the ambience of traditional Venice. There were crowds of tourists everywhere, dressed in the minimum of clothing to combat the heat and all we did was follow the crowd like swallows that headed to and from the Piazza San Marco.

Every once in a while we popped into a shop drawn like magnets by food or the art and craft on sale. There is so much to buy and so much to see in Venice and just let yourself go with the flow of the tide of multilingual tourists all come to savour Venice in the spring. Itís a long walk and all the many stops along the way make it longer still. No wonder when you reach the piazza San Marco the crowd looks spent and like the pigeons sit around the piazza enjoying the faintest of breezes eddying around the square. Cafes around the periphery have musicians playing well loved romantic melodies, with a solo violinist picking out the melody with its signature wail, adding to the evenings ethereal ambience. Little children run around selling single red roses which add to the romance of the piazza.

However I was disappointed as the piazza was enclosed with a lot of scaffolding which has become common across a large part of Europe. Itís obvious Venice is decaying with every passing year. It was decaying 20 years ago and I found it in a similar shape 20 years later. But it still is romantic, so give yourself and your loved one up to that gliding canal ride, along the enchanted canals of Venice.

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