Saturday, 25 May 2013

Venice Day 1

Awake hideously early this morning i.e. 4:30, when Mum got up to turn the central heating on, and I wasn't able to go back to sleep again after that. Up at 6:00 to be out of the door 45 minutes later, just about did it and even managed to eat a bowl of cereal and have a cup of tea before Doug came to take us to Heathrow.

Upon arrival at Terminal Five we were greeted by much larger crowds of people than we have seen on previous trips, but the fact that it's a bank holiday weekend probably has something to do with that.  Tried to print boarding pass from the magic machine but it was having none of it, so gave up and joined the check-in queue marked 'assistance', since mum now receives this extra bit of help.  After a lengthy wait during which the queue did not seem to move forward at all, we finally reached the check in and offloaded our suitcases, before getting mum into a wheelchair much to her relief.  Whisked through security, the fact that Mum is in a chair magically opens doors and tapes to allow us through in the quickest possible time.  There followed usual airport stuff which I won't bore you with, but eventually we were dropped at the boarding gate before getting the bus which took us to the plane.

Flight was okay, except that we were seated almost at the back next to the bogs, and seemingly surrounded by every single child that was on that flight.  Children really should be seen and not heard ;) We were soon fed with breakfast of a croissant with ham and cheese, which I devoured as I was suddenly very hungry.  Wondered aloud to mum if it would be very decadent to have a gin and tonic since it was only just after 10 o'clock In the morning, but I really do like my aeroplane G&T to get me in the holiday mood, and when the woman in the aisle seat also asked if they were serving alcohol I was encouraged to go for it.  The stewardess said that they weren't really supposed to, but gave us the drinks anyway - happy days!

Upon arrival at Venice we were greeted by a young man with a wheelchair for Mum, and again whisked through passport control as he parted the crowds of people like Moses parting Red Sea and took us straight through to the front of the queue.  There is a definite advantage to travelling with a mother in a wheelchair ;)

Bit of hoo-ha at baggage reclaim, as Mum's folding seat was nowhere to be seen, but it was eventually located from oversize baggage by another young man who took over from the first.  Out through passport control, met the taxi driver who took was down to the water taxi, and finally there was Massimo with his taxi ('Daisy') ready to take us over the lagoon to Venice.

The sky over the island was looking deep blue grey and very ominous, and it has to be said that the temperature was not much greater than what we had left behind in the UK.  Really glad that I borrowed one of mum's coats at the last minute, having consciously decided not to take anything except my waterproof short jacket as it has a hood, but it is not a particularly warm coat.  I was really hoping that the weather would be a lot better, and had mostly packed skimpy summer clothes, but it seems that might have been quite optimistic and I am probably going to have to spend more time in the warmer things that I travelled in.

Bouncy ride across the lagoon in the water taxi, the boat leaping up and down with a bang every time another taxi or vaporetto went past leaving waves in their wake, but it was quite windy as well which made it extra choppy.  Upon arrival at our usual apartment in the Arsenale, Stacy came hurrying out to greet us having obviously heard a rumble of the boat's engine, and much kissing and hugging ensued.  Hefted the cases upstairs to the first floor, and caught up with Stacy who was having a terrible day with grumpy new arrivals (not us obviously) and a catalogue of complaints and other things going wrong.  Learned the unfortunate news that the weather has indeed been pants, and the combination of high tides and a full moon mean that the Aqua Alta is especially high, so there might be flooding in some of the lower areas like Piazza San Marco.  She recommended that we choose wellingtons in our size from the communal cupboard downstairs, and I went down to have a look for both mum and I, finding some normal black ones in mum's size but the only ones in my size were white with pink roses.  I thought they were pretty bad, but apparently they used to belong to Rosie, the legendary caretaker of this apartment before Stacy took over, and she said if any Venetians see me out and about in them they will think I am a local.  I suppose they will at least go with the bright pink coat that I have borrowed from mum, and there will be no danger of losing me in a crowd!

I always have to unpack when I arrive anywhere as I am incapable of relaxing until I have done it, so got this sorted out whilst mum did the same, and then we went down stairs to the Arsenale bar next door to have a hot chocolate and a snack.  Sat shivering out side under the awning, glumly staring at the grey sky and praying that the weather would soon improve.  Soon cheered up though with a nice bit of people watching accompanied by delicious thick hot chocolate and an egg and tuna tramezzine (or handpainted anteater trimetozine - I am dictating this and this bizarre term is what my iPad thought I said!)

Back at the apartment I tried reading but my eyes would not stay open, after a busy couple of days and a very early start for me I was just too tired to stay awake, so went off to have a nap while mum popped out to Francesco's to get a few groceries.  I was asleep for a couple of hours, so when I got up it was almost supper time. Went next door to Paolo's as is traditional for our first night, were greeted by Lily, Paolo, Fabiola and Mrs Paolo with hugs and kisses which was lovely, and then enjoyed a supper of steak and chips for mum plus lasagna for me with a shared green salad, white wine and sparkling water.  By the time we left the sky had got really dark even though it wasn't that late, and about 9pm it started pouring with rain, so I was glad that I was tucked up cosy in bed by then.  The forecast for tomorrow is not especially good, I think wellies and raincoats will be the order of the day, but I just hope that it warms up again soon - fingers crossed eh?