The Quickies: Venice & Barcelona

Venice seduced us, made love to us, occasionally ripped us off, but never, ever, let us down.

So much has been seen and said about this city; that one wonders whether it can really live up to all the hype. It does. And the only way to know this is to experience it, so this post will be short (and instructive).

Pack light as you need to drag your bags about quite a bit, and there are many, many small bridges that need to be crossed along the way  – they have 400 beautiful little bridges – whose beauty begins to pale after you’ve crossed about four of them, lugging a 25 kg bag with you. So pack light.

You walk. Or you take a boat. It’s peaceful and remarkably stress free. If only…

The Gondola ride is not negotiable. You get to pass by the home’s of Marco Polo, Casanova (‘He had a lot of girlfriends? Yuck!’) and Vivaldi; wave to tourists waiting on bridges to take your picture; learn that the city is slowly sinking: in high tide during the winter, water rises high enough to flood the first floor of most homes (which is why the first floors are all shut up); on a happier note, listen for gondoliers serenading their passengers; on the whole, go back in time and spend 20 glorious minutes living like the Venetians did in their hey day.

The Marco Polo square turns into a classical music fest at night. Bands play at cafes that spill over onto the square; people are dancing, children are running around being children and you feel like you have just walked into an old Hollywood movie. And you’re part of the star cast.

The true test of a city is whether the kids love it inspite of there being nothing else for them to do than pound the pavements with their parents – who are busy darting around buying things, whilst denying the kids as much as possible.

The kids loved it. Enough said.

p.s. Artviva had tours to die for in Venice. If you are going, check them out.

Venice

Busy, busy waterways. But some how traffic jams don't annoy you as much. It's the water.

The Gondolas...

and our Gondolier.

Barcelona

The La Rambla is where it’s at and as we had just one evening before we left on a cruise the next day, we wasted no time getting there. Mercifully the shops close only at 10 in this city (in Venice they close at 7!) and so we gadded about, walked in and out of umpteen Zara’s (there’s one at almost every corner), took photos with the street performers, ate a heavenly paella, wondered just why a married couple would want to be photographed at the fruit and meat market (oh well), and then called it a night even as the city had congregated at Plaza Catalunya square to protest something. Seemed more like a carnival (music, food, happyish looking people).But we really had to go. Gaudi beckons and we shall be back.

The street performers - Cowboy Joe was very sweet.

This guy was awesome - what drama!

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