Christmas Eve in Venice

Saturday 1492 – 24th Dec 2011 – Christmas Eve.

Here I am in Venice again visiting my daughter for Christmas. She goes home on the 28th Dec so this will be my last time. The immediate family is here – me, my daughter, her partner and my son.

The 3 of them took themselves off to Padua this morning to visit the Scrovegni chapel with its Giotto Frescos.  I decided not to go as I wanted to visit Cimitero -St Michele – the Cemetery Island just off the main Islands of Venice.  This is my 6th visit to Venice and I have never been…always intended to go but never quite made it and it has a curious fascination. The island is studded with Dark Cypress trees and the whole is surrounded by a high Terracotta wall and there are some famous foreigners buried there like Ezra pound and Sergei Diaghilev.

As well as individual and family graves there are many remembrance walls like the one below with name plaques and often photos; some are well looked after, others less so. The upper ones are reached by wheeled ladders reminiscent of those in old libraries.

This seemed like a good day to go as Christmas isn’t just about being with family or friends it’s also a time for remembering those family and friends who are no longer with us.  I am not at all religious and don’t believe in God but if I’m in a religious building I still find myself lighting a candle and thinking about those who are gone. This Christmas eve was no exception. In the little church on St Michele I lit candles and in particular thought of my late father Bert who died when I was 17, my brother Geoff who died aged 53,  my ex husband Sydney at 59, his father Jim in his 90’s and  my friend’s daughter Laura who died way too young in her early teens. 

I took a photo of the candles and here they are in remembrance of all those who are no longer here.

 

Later in the day my daughter, her partner and I decided we’d go to midnight Mass at Basilica San Marco in St Mark’s square ( well really my daughter decided ! ) – I had reservations because as I mentioned I’m not at all religious (neither are they) but this was sold to me as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We arrived a little after 11 pm and my daughter had said it would all be over at 12… not so !

We tucked ourselves into a corner sitting on a stone seat against the outer wall . My daughter and her partner decided they’d like to go and stand nearer the middle so they could see more. I was happy to stay where I was and took a few photos before the service started, like the Ascension Dome pictured below with its 13th Century mosaics.

Shortly after they went a very old man came over to my corner and I offered him my seat as no-one else looked as though they were going to;  after all I’d only be standing until 12 !! Ha! Ha!

The service started and went on and on (and on !)  in Italian, of course, so I didn’t have a clue what was being said and could see very little of what was happening ( the choir and incense were good though!) At 12.40 a.m I decided I’d had enough ( I’m not great at standing as I have a bad ankle and I was frozen) and sent a text to my daughter’s partner to say I was going to catch a Vaporetto (water bus) back to the apartment. When I got to the Vaporetto stand I discovered there were going to be no boats! so text to say I was on my way back to the Basilica to wait for my daughter and her partner to come out.

 No reply!  I was tempted just to walk back but didn’t think it would be a great idea to walk halfway across Venice on my own at 1 a.m carrying some very expensive camera equipment.

They eventually emerged at 1.20 a.m, all delighted that they hadn’t been standing at all but had  been ushered to seats close to the altar and the centre of the action ! I was spitting feathers by this time  and confess I wasn’t the best of company on the 1/2hr or so walk home ! !  Ho Hum !

There’s no moral to this story – it’s just a fact of life that not everything goes according to plan ( in fact most things don’t! )

I’ll leave you with a photo of a large house on the Grand Canal all lit up for Christmas with a rather pretty moving snowflake scene.

 

Seasons Greetings to you all from the Saturday Girl.  ‘Til next week .. Ciao, Ciao.

P.s – You can see my other posts about Venice here Departures and Arrivals and here Acqua Alta ,Umbrellas and Wellies 

Departures and Arrivals

Saturday No 1499  5.11.11

I am a perfectly good sleeper. I get into bed, read for as long as I can manage which isn’t normally very long and off I go to sleep.

So why is it that the night before a flight I can’t get to sleep. Take last night. I was all packed, even down to my spare toothbrush, so nothing to worry about there. I didn’t have to leave the house until 8.40 a.m which is a good half an hour later than a normal working day and as I always wake before the alarm I should have been pretty relaxed,  but could I get off to sleep…I could not. Infuriating!  Luckily I’m the sort that doesn’t need too much sleep so woke feeling pretty ok and off to the airport

Airports are interesting places for people watching.  Some maintain a high level of anxiety throughout; hurrying along from check in to gate, making sure they’re there hours before they need to be but endlessly looking at the monitor;  still believing they have probably missed their flight, getting rest where they can.

The anxious rush past people at the opposite end of the anxiety spectrum who saunter along in a semi stupor, seemingly oblivious to time; gliding along the moving walkway never dreaming  of actually walking on it. That would be far too energectic.

Then there are those who take stupor to the extreme like this young man; would he lie on the floor and sleep anywhere else I wonder? Waiting for a train maybe?  Or to get into a concert ? Doubtful! Put people in an Airport and they take on a different persona or maybe their real persona comes to the fore?

Which one of these am I…somewhere between the 1st 2 I suspect though those who have travelled with me might argue one way or the other!

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Now I’ve always been a bit claustrophobic on planes,usually preferring to sit in an aisle seat, but this time I thought I’d get a window seat to get a good view of Venice as we flew over her. Every other time I’ve been to Venice it has been to Treviso airport but this time it was to Marco Polo.Alas the weather gods decided this was not the time, Venice was barely visible through the cloud.

But, as you will come to know,I am a lover of clouds and will photograph them at every opportunity even through the windows of a plane.

This shaft of light couldn’t be resisted.

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Unfortunately when I arrived in Venice on the water bus from the airport I felt unexpectedly and decidedly underwhelmed. Why, when you are carrying passengers to one of THE most beautiful cities in the world, would you design a boat that has the windows so high that you can’t see out of them without half standing up from your seat in the most uncomfortable of positions….. Crazy and everyone was bemoaning the fact. Not even a deck that you could stand on outside…… but then I arrived and there was my beloved daughter waiting at Zattere to greet me; all delighted smiles.

Back to her gorgeous apartment in Palazzo Foscarini for a quick shower, a bite to eat and off out to walk. I can tell you it didn’t take me long to fall in love with Venice all over again; this my first experience of Venice after rain.

The wet streets, softly lit canals and lights in ancient buildings all producing an entirely different view of this my favourite city.

Even the ubiquitous gondolas can take on a new character when taken with a slow shutter speed……..

…and steamed up windows make even a basket of dead fish seem inviting

All in all a very good Saturday indeedy !

P.S on Sunday Acqua Alta was promised and didn’t disappoint…. More about that on another day…..