Sunday, 28 September 2008

A childhood revisited

I went on a wander around the northern part of the Lagoon today, and in the process brought all the memories of family holidays flooding back.

At least twice (though in the clouded depths of my mind it might as well have been every year) as children my parents took my sister and I on holiday to Jésolo. It’s a beach resort on the Veneto coast, about 25Km North-East of the Lagoon and filled with the nameless hotels that make up a package holiday resort. The kind of place where the Germans, Swedish and Brits all head to in the summer, and attempt under no circumstance to mingle with anyone other than their own nationality (and the Brits make comments about sun loungers, Germans and their towels!)

On several occasions my parents, trying to instil some culture and appreciation of history and the arts in me and my sister, took us into Venice. I can still vividly recall at the time complaining that there were too many steps and bridges and that it wasn’t the beach. The only reason I liked going was the journey. From Jésolo it was a long bus ride to the ferry on the kind of bumpy and rattley bus that would have made anyone else sick. I however was different, the more a bus rattled and bumped the more I enjoyed the journey and I didn’t feel ill. Put me on a luxury air-conditioned coach with perfect suspension that behaved as though it was flying over air and I would be spectacularly and copiously sick (usually over my poor mum!). Then there was the long ferry journey across to Venice, which was also an adventure, before we finally arrived where the art was, which was where it got boring, until the time came to come home again and to repeat the journey in reverse.

In my memory the journey always took hours, but I can now categorically confirm that my memory lies. The journey to Burano and Torcello required catching the ferry across the Lagoon which stops at Punta Sabbioni, the part of the mainland which forms the top of the lagoon, and the place where the buses to Jésolo depart from. In fact as the ferry arrived, just over 40 minutes after leaving Venice, there were two busses parked up with Jésolo as their destination. According to the map it’s less than 20Km to Jésolo so the entire journey from start to finish couldn’t have been much more than an hour.

As we approached the landing stage, all of a sudden I stopped being a 30 year old man, I was an 8-year-old boy again, the bus was in the same place as it always was (albeit a little more modern than they were 22 years ago, though as the ferry I was on had a manufacture date of 1981 proudly being displayed it was almost certainly the ferry had I had caught previously.), the ferry was docking at the same landing stage, the same small café, the same battered ticket office, and I really had to remind myself that I wasn’t getting off to get the bus back to Jésolo!

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