Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just like a postcard

Edit: This post has been sitting on the internet half written for the last few weeks since we've been home. I've been extremely busy (and I hate saying that because everyone seems to have busy lives and whenever I say I'm busy I feel like I'm just making excuses...which, of course, I am). Work is hectic again. I've been handed an urgent piece of work that has to be in 2 weeks before Christmas to cater for the rush, and my developers are in Singapore and the RĂ©union, so its going to be a rough 3 weeks of orchestration on my part to get this thing across the line. I'm also managing an interesting lineup of testers to help me with this, so I've been contemplating staggering their shifts so that I have people working the same hours as my developers. Oh boy, I'm tired just typing this!

Then, of course, the tragic events that unfolded over the weekend in Paris. It's devastating, especially since its just over a month ago we were there, soaking up the Parisian atmosphere and feeling so lucky and privileged to be in such an amazing place. Now I feel extremely grateful for our time there; blissful and innocent. I can only imagine how chaotic Europe would be right now. I'm so grateful to be home, so glad to be in little NZ.


Venice is just how I imagined it to be, from the narrow alleyways that take you to squares that branch off to bridges and canals, and all the while there are boats or gondolas passing by, and birds that are not people shy and come up really close to peck at the crumbs you drop. Venice is exactly the way I expected, just like a postcard.

I was planning for us to leave Venice on Sunday (25th October), but when I checked flight timings and availability it was a lot more manageable to fly out on Monday instead. So that worked out really well, because we got a chance to explore some more of what Venice had to offer. We headed off on the water taxi and decided to get off one stop after San Marco, on the other side of the grand canal. The nearest bridge was about a kilometer away, so it was a good chance for us to have a wander around. This side is a lot quieter and just as interesting, I reckon. We hopped off the taxi practically right in front of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

It was nice walking around here; definitely not as busy, so give us some space to look around the beautiful shops full off beautiful Venetian glass. We explored the streets that weave around the canals connected by bridges.

We wanted to find a supermarket so that we could buy some stuff for another picnic - no point going to expensive restaurants when we can get high quality delicious food for a fraction of the price. We happened to stumble across a supermarket just as it was about to close for the day - I think it was only 1pm or so. That was very fortunate. We sat across the road from it and had our lunch, and Kien loved feeding the birds.

After lunch we walked to St Marco square, which wasn't far from where we lunched.

The pigeons at the square were a lot less wary of people, and would eat straight out of your hands, much to Kien's delight.

And that's all folks. The following day we caught a very long water taxi ride to the airport. Getting out of Venice is a story and a half!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Good bye Norweigan Spirit, hello Lido

A week and a half ago we were disembarking the Norweigan Spirit for the last time. We had been living on the ship for 12 days, and we had seen some amazing places. So it was sort of sad that we were at the end of our cruise, and knowing that as soon as we hit Venice we were nearing the end of our holiday.

By the way we are now back in NZ, back at work, back at school, back to normal life and routines and packing lunches and cooking meals and washing dishes. Back to reality.

We got off the ship with no hotel booked! We took a water taxi to San Marco hoping to find some wifi so I could get online and find us something.

Every hotel in the main centre that we stopped at was full. The last one we stopped at (admittedly we only stopped at 2) I could have gotten an award for how desperate I came across, and she took pity on me and gave me their wifi password. 15 minutes later I had lined up some accommodation on one of the outer islands. So another short water taxi ride and we were sitting in the sun on the deck of our quite hotel at Lido.

After taking our time to settle in we went for a wander to explore the island. As it was now off season there were hardly anyone here. The streets were so quiet.

The canal is just around the corner from where we were staying. It looks like this dock is now closed for the winter.

We headed over the beach on the other side of the island. The beach really isn't that much to write home about. I am certain us NZers are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches.

We then walked about a km zig zagging along the coast back to where the ferry dropped us off - the "happening" area of the island.

Reminding ourselves we are back in Italy, so pizza for lunch again.

We stopped by the supermarket to grab a few beers and headed back to our hotel to watch the NZ vs SA rugby match. Kickoff was 5pm local time (which I suppose was 5am NZ time). After we saw the ABs beat the South Africans we went to the canal around the corner and had a picnic.

Wine for a euro a litre, fresh warm crusty bread, a wedge of italian cheese, beautiful smokey prosciutto and italian hot chorizo - a perfect assortment for a picnic.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Arriving in Venice

Last Saturday (24th Oct) we arrived in Venice in the early afternoon after being at sea for a night, a full day, another night, and a half day after leaving Athens. I was very excited; Venice is another one of my must-see-in-my-lifetime cities, so I had quite high expectations for this place. We sat at our cabin balcony relaxing and waiting for our arrival, and then we went up on the top deck for a better view.

The ship cruised through Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal, providing us with a spectacular sail via the centre of Venice, passing Piazza San Marco. We were very fortunate to have been able to do this, as it looks like this route is under intense debate with environmentalists and celebrities petitioning for the banning of large cruise ships.

After docking at port there was a massive rush with people wanting to get onto the water taxis and into the centre. So we took our time and waited. We also wanted to make the most of the limited time we had left on the ship.

It was late afternoon when we took our water taxi to St Marco. By then the sun was on its way down. Sunset at this time of year is really early - around 5pm.

We wandered around for a bit until it got dark, meandering small alleyways and over bridges through the canals. Venice is exactly how I imagined it to be.

We decided to head back to the ship for dinner since it was our last night on the cruise liner.


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