Venice, 11th-14th September 2004

We had headed to Italy for a couple of weeks in the Dolomites, but the weather was wet to begin with - so we spent two days in Venice first.

Having arrived fairly late at Marco Polo Airport and picked up our hire car (we hadn't decided on going into Venice until last minute, when we'd seen the weather forecasts), it was easiest to book into a hotel in Mestre for the first night. The room wasn't too expensive, and was really quite nice - apart from the sounds of cars stopping or racing away as their occupants picked up or shouted abuse at prostitutes, which continued well into the early hours of the morning.

We found somewhere we could leave the car for free and took the tram into Venice, where we checked into a two star hotel at what seemed more like four star prices.

One of the best things to do in Venice is to just wander around and take it all in. Everything seems to be constantly decaying and crumbling and being patched back up, and the alleyways, canals and bridges have a real charm to them


The view from one of the service boats - these act like busses, ferrying people back and forth along the main canals and around the islands. Within town it's generally quicker to walk!


The waterfront


Rialto Bridge at night. It's worth going for a trip on a service boat after dark, when the canals and bridges are all lit up


A side canal


Boats moored by a housing area


Piazza San Marco


Various views of the Basilica San Marco. Inside is very impressive, with huge amounts of gold and other precious materials - although the floor gets flooded on an increasingly frequent basis.

We also visited the Peggy Guggenheim collection and a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, both of which were excellent. Oh, and I ate lots of pizza, which was also excellent.

We then headed back over to Mestre to pick up the car, then on up North to Cortina and the Dolomites