Thursday, 24 November 2011
Tutti i Santi
All Saints Day. I remember a long weekend many, many years ago, in Venice, with Tony, Brendan and Alistair, and Ella. The weather was much as it has been this weekend but with misty mornings. One of our best visits to Venice. And here we are again, Venice on All Saints Day. The autostrada was deserted. Oh, the joys of travelling on a public holiday. We arrived in Venice in good time, too early even, but better that than too late. The causeway. Ferry port. No. that wasn't our ferry. It took ages to load the ferry. Lorries first, they had to reverse on. Nightmare. Then cars with caravans - usually the caravan was reversed on by one of the dock workers and then the car was re-hooked up. Oh but it was a slow system!!! We mused on how ever they would get a full ferry loaded as this one wasn't even a third full. Finally, we got on board and found our cabin - I had originally booked an inside cabin but changed to an outside one with a reasonable sized window. Not bad. We dumped our things and headed outside ready to enjoy our departure. Hungry, we quickly ate the most unappetising giros, not wanting to miss anything of the start of our journey. Two hours later: Still waiting, even the crew are out watching. Whatever is going on? (Later we discovered that this was the first time this particular boat had been in Venice… so the authorities decided to do a full safety check. Two hours of safety check!!!) And during that time they were still loading lorries. But eventually we got underway and got a bit camera happy trying to capture the essence of Venice. Canals Buildings Piazza San Marco, can you make out the crowds? The canal was extra busy there as well. More Piazza San Marco Yet more. More boats, more buildings and, as everywhere, a crane. Would that we were travelling on this luxury boat… but a week later it was still there. And finally, almost out of Venice now, some autumn colour. When we were having lunch in Bardolino the day before I noticed an ATM machine and the thought went through my mind, maybe I should get some more cash. Through my mind and out again. I forgot to get the cash. Tony also didn't have any euros. Oh well, I thought, as we boarded the ferry, we can pay for everything by card. Wrong!!! Very wrong!!! We used up the last of our euros paying for the ghastly giros. No… we managed to find enough for a couple of coffees in the afternoon. Something had to be done. Someone suggested the Pursar. First find Pursar. Hmmm. Not so easy. Once we were underway, everything closed. We had at least established that we could use our cards in the Dining Room and in the self-service restaurant so we wouldn't starve and there were a couple of bottles of water in the fridge in our cabin. We wouldn't die of thirst either. Oh, but the need for coffee… Pursar to the rescue. Eventually his office opened and Tony was able to change some £s into €s. Joy, I could have a coffee… but I chose to have a glass of wine instead. After all, we were on an adventure. Dinner in the Dining Room was good. I chose to have a selection of Greek dips: Tsatsiki, aubergine and spicy cheese. Yummy. And then a traditional Greek stew. Washed down by some more wine, of course. Tony had gnocchi followed by pork. And, as a reward, we received a bottle of Cretan olive oil. Thank you very much. All paid for with our Visa card… it required a visit to the shop with the waiter. They didn't have a machine in the Dining Room. (Am I twittering a bit too much?) We enjoyed a very peaceful night, a flat calm sea, just the kind I used to hope for when we were making a night crossing. The captain didn't manage to make up time so we were two hours late getting to Igoumenitsa. Back to the Dining Room for lunch. We both chose what turned out to be the strangest dish ever. Ravioli stuffed with pears on a bed of caramelised sun dried tomatoes . Well, it tasted ok. But maybe it would have been better on the dessert menu. It was all so sweet, the ravioli with the pears and the tomatoes, well, they were more like… jam. Interesting. And finally, Land. Albania. Nearly there. All in all, we had enjoyed our ferry crossing.