Not a single car, not one white van nor white van man, no trucks, pick-ups, no monster Hilux with statutary gruff guard dog sitting on the passenger seat, no buses loading passengers ten feet from the footpath obstructing flow, no taxis, no taxi ranks, no traffic lights, speed cameras, pedestrian crossings, traffic islands, greenways, red ways, bicycle ways or parking bays, no filling stations, and joy of joys, no traffic wardens ... just boats. Lots of them.
It was 95 degrees in the shade last week, old money. Walking anywhere is a must because water taxi charges begin at €60 and work up to €100, fine if there's four or more to share the eye watering cost, not forgetting the tip. Water buses offer a service that doesn't bankrupt. For as little as €15 a day you can hop on and off them for any length of journey, island to island, and they are every ten minutes. I took a seat. Standing upright means acquiring sea legs - you get buffeted around by solid lines of waves thrown off from faster craft overtaking. Yes, there are plenty over-mythologised dead slow and stop gondolas - eighty separate wooden pieces go into their construction, all painted gloss black by decree so none are above another in status. 50-50 weight distribution would sink them; weight and angle are severely biased one end off-centre to compensate for the man with the paddle and stripey sweat shirt steering.
In desperation for anything with wheels you begin to notice familar automotive names, Honda, Toyota, Kawasaki, emblazoned on outboard engines, and you become aware of the thwack, thwack, rackety-rack as they bounce, pounce, and splash by, the most dramatic and fastest the ambulance and fire speed boats, sirens blaring.
The flotila of so many boats, taxis and buses of all kinds cause Venetian gridlock. Imagine three gondolas, three speedboats, and one small cruiser all converging on the same narrow canal junction at the same time. "Whoa-hoy!" shouts the gondalier in an attempt to warn others of his approach on a blind corner. Thousands of stout wooden poles two abreast, bored seagull atop, sprout out the plastic bottle strewn waterways to denote a parking place. Some properties have an interior boat house, but most are forced to battle for the bay nearest. The profusion of water traffic causes severe degrading of house foundations, the constant lap and slap of waves never taken into account by the city planners in days when speedboats were unknown. Everybody who can owns a boat of some description, the wealthy have two. No change. Boats for cars. Residents experience the same traffic problems as we do and the same frustrations. Gawd, that boat in front is doing three painful knots a nautical mile in a 20 knot zone. What's his problem? Oh look, there goes boy racer speeding in the bloody dark ...
So there you have it, a brief blog about cars that has no cars in it.
And all the restaurants overcharge. €5 for a basket of two rolls you didn't order. What do you take me for? A stupid tourist?