When nature catches you off guard. A random stranger helps you out.
In the morning, I checked the tidal predictions. I planned to wait for the water to fall a bit and then walk to the bus station on the other side of the city. I had boots right. Aqua Alta (Italian for high water) will retrieve, and everything will be fine.
So I made a deal with the hotel manager to stay in my room for two more hours. I picked a book and placed my self near the window. With a view on the canal and watched the water rise slowly.
For some reason, the tourists really liked the canal under my room window. They kept taking photos. In less than 15 min, three people photographed the random place. It kept me wondering, are the photos I took in Venice even unique? With so many daily visitors apparently not. But I was also curious about the scenery below my window.
At one o’clock, I dressed up and headed out. To take a few more photos and head to the bus station.
The lobby of the hotel was underwater. But when I stepped to the street, I realized that the situation was far worse then it looked from my cozy window view. Apparently, my view was facing a rare piazza of Venice that wasn’t flooded. OK, my boots are high enough. I can walk around. Or maybe not …
I walked around the corner, and the street was full of locals pumping out water from their shops. The bar owner in fishing boots was standing in the middle of the street with a glass of red wine in his hand. Water to his knees. Engaged in the lovely chat with a neighbor. Water was bursting through the air.
Apparently, another Sunday afternoon for locals. We’ll not for me. I didn’t have the fishing boots, and the water was starting to drip inside my boots. I better get out of here. So I went to the part below my hotel window where water didn’t flood everything yet. To my surprise that’s what the other tourists were photographing so passionately:
I headed a bit further and realized that really everything except the square before my hotel was underwater. Water was still rising though it was way past 12 o’clock. Later I realized that the wind was blowing from the south into the city. Preventing the water from moving out. The local flood services even removed the elevated platforms in some parts of the city so they wouldn’t float away.
How am I getting out? We’ll I need to get to the Vaporetto (water bus service) station that should be above water since it’s a floating on water.
I arrived at the Vaporetto station in the north of Venice a bit later. To station Ospedale. Near the Venice hospital. Let’s figure out what’s going on here.
I noticed that the lady from a German family spoke some Italian. I asked her what was going on. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Vaporetto service was not working. ??? She said that they are going to the train/bus station too and that she’ll let me know if locals figure something out.
So I was stranded on a Vaporetto station with a bunch of locals and other tourists. On the far side of Venice. Now what? I have one hour and a half to get to the other side of the city, or I’ll miss my shuttle service back home. I can walk through the city. I’ll be completely wet, but I can make it to the bus station. What to do?
I barely believed what happened next. A water taxi boat comes to the Vaporetto station and driver yells:
Before you know it, we were in the boat driving. And the driver reassured us that he won’t charge us for the drive.
Well, I didn’t believe him and prepared to overpay the water cab. But we were on our way to the other side of Venice. I wanted to travel with one of those water taxis anyway. So here was my opportunity. Whether I pay for it or not. We’ll see.
We slowed down every time we passed a police car. Our driver would put the windshield down and yell at the police patrol why are they just standing around and doing nothing. Cops would just shrug their shoulders and kept doing nothing. OK? Wierd. What’s going on. We passed a few water buses which were driving around empty.
At first, I was too shocked by what I saw before I managed to start photographing. But then I realized. Locals were caught off guard. They didn’t expect the water to stay that high for so long. Services collapsed.
We again slowed down in the Canal Grande for like three seconds, so another guy could jump on our boat. Out of nowhere. Literally. He was standing on some random boat in the middle of the river. Cool :)
Tourists were stranded on bridges all across the city.
We were so lucky that the taxi driver picked us up. German family got off at the train station. I was about to follow when the taxi driver stopped me.
Ah OK. He dropped me off right where I had to go. Water was so high that I had to step like a meter down to reach the shore. And when I offered to pay for the ride, the driver said:
When a random taxi driver picks you up in the middle of nowhere. Then takes you all the way to the other side of the city. Public transport crashes. Police don’t do shit. The only thing that functions are Venice taxi drivers. Way to go. Adventures like that are why I love unplanned travel. They spike a bit of adrenaline
Scenes of the city I saw from the boat stuck pretty deep into my mind. By the time I got to the bus station, it was around two-thirty, and the authorities were finally sending in the extra emergency services.
That’s it from my Venice adventures. In upcoming weeks I’ll dig into some numbers about Venice. So stay tuned for the rest of the series: