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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

12th June, 2015

The weather has been just a little steamy over the last few days, hardly any wind and full sun, so it was probably not surprising that the horizon was somewhat disguised by haze when I arrived on the bridge shortly before six. Already it was very warm and by the time the pilot boarded thirty or so minutes later the upper deck was becoming populated.

The campaniles and domes were not evident at that time, but only slowly became clear as the ship sailed slowly ever closer. I could see, with the bright light and vagueness of outline, why some of those Canaletto painting are so memorable. But all became so much clearer after the last ‘corner’ and all those familiar buildings seemed to just ‘pop out’ and be there, right in front of us (well, to the side really, as we passed).

Our folks were offered champagne and strawberries on the aft veranda deck, so they were soon away, leaving us on the bridge wing to dock the ship without vocal ‘guidance’ from above. Shuttle buses to a shuttle boat had been laid on to transport our passengers back to the ferry landings a few hundred yards down from Piazza San Marco and by the time the first arrived the relatively quiet water front we had passed an hour or so before had become busy. Venice was coming to life.

I did pop over in the early afternoon in order to meet Mrs. R, and to take a wander for an hour or so. But strolling around Venice is not exactly relaxing on a hot June afternoon, particularly anywhere between San Marco and Rialto. Hundreds, thousands, of people seem to be milling around, looking through shop windows, or at menus pinned up outside the myriad restaurants, or down from little bridges into narrow canals as gondolas slowly went by. Then there are the locals who walk with a purpose, probably silently cursing the ever increasing number of tourists who can’t speak a single word of Italian.

It is, however, an amazing place. Perhaps the secret is to try and realise what it was and understand how it manages to survive. One day is never enough and over the years I’ve had the opportunity to walk through many of its narrow streets, over the bridges and through the quieter more ‘local’ places.

We stayed until 11 pm, then left to sail past a much quieter St. Mark’s Square. Many passengers were on deck, enjoying the relative cool of the night air, and no doubt enjoying the opportunity of seeing this rather special place one last time before sailing off into the darkness, leaving Venice and its million lights behind.

Captain Philip Rentell

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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