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On the Geneva Express to Venice

13 September, 2017

Panaroma from Chateaux de Tourbillon showing the nearby Basilique de Valere both situated at Sion, Switzerland

We departed Chamonix early in the morning to catch the Mont Blanc Express to Sion. The reason we planned to stay in Sion is because this fantastic direct train from Geneva to Venice stops in Sion for a pick up. And this little stopover turned out to be an unexpectedly fantastic 24 hours. We arrived at 10 am and Sion did look a little industrial and dour, but we dropped our bags and wandered into the ‘old’ part of town and there was a street market going on – by 11am everyone was drinking wine, there was a fabulous flamenco guitarist playing, little kids were dancing and I was won over instantly.

   

Sion Friday morning markets  A fabulous flamenco guitarist

The music must have triggered the need to have a Spritzer at 11.30am especially as everyone else seemed to deem it was ok to have a drink before lunch. There is an easy-to-follow numbered tourist walk through Sion – it has two quite impressive castles and some very, very ancient history. Sion is one of the most important pre-historic sites in Europe. The oldest trace of human settlement comes from 6200 BC during the late Mesolithic age. (1) I doubt I would say to people – Sion HAS to be on your must visit list, but if you are like us and it is a pick-up point for the direct train to Venice, then definitely do it. (Friday would be the best day – with that street market and all).

The train network is spectacular in Europe- I wish we had something similar in Australia. It’s so nice to sit back and watch the country side speed by while writing a blog. Departing at 9.15am we arrived at Venice at 3 pm. Unfortunately it was raining, but it has always been very hot, sunny and dry in Venice, so it makes for a nice change.

The Art Biennale happens every 2 years, alternating with the Architecture Biennale. As Bob is an architect, we have only ever attended the Architecture Biennale (for professional CPD reasons). What drew me to Venice this trip was the fabulous sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn called Support – his inspiration being the prediction that Venice will be lost to the Adriatic Sea in under 100 years due to rising sea levels caused by climate change. The hands symbolise the support needed to hold up the magnificent buildings that have existed for thousands of years.

      

The reason we came to Venice! Bellisimo Lorenzo

When government coffers are dwindling and budgets are tight, often the first funding that gets mooted to be slashed are those funding the arts, but when a sculpture can be so ‘visible’ and generate such conversation with just its ‘visibleness’ (I made that word up) then no amount of Senate Committee estimates and research can match that. Arts funding is essential to fight for, just as climate and environmental research is. This terrifying article shows us the future and it isn’t all rosy unless by rosy you mean the colour of our skin when we step out of the house without sunscreen to put the clothes on the line. I have a friend who is right into the science of Climate Change and I asked him to fact check the article I have linked and he has said – yes you better believe it.

Venice didn’t disappoint – we had another beautiful dinner at Vinaria – their food is so special and different to the usual enormous menus of spaghetti, pizza and seafood that Venetian restaurants often have. But at the same time as being delicious and different they are quite reasonably priced.

  

Anchovy stuffed dumplings  Pasta with Artichokes and zucchini flowers    Outside Vinaria

The next day we did a fast cruise through the Art Biennale (held between 13 May – 26 November 2017, Central International Exhibition, 57th Venice Biennale 2017, Arsenale and Central Pavilion, Giardini. Curator: Christine Macel.) It was raining quite heavily so we decided to buy a one day transport pass so we could hop on and off the vaporettos rather than walking the quite long distances to the Giardini – our first stop at the exhibition. The transport is fantastically expensive in Venice – a vaporetto is 7.5 euro each regardless if you go one stop or up the Grand Canal to all stops. You can get on and off as many times as you like within the one hour – after that it’s another 7.5 euro. So we decided 22.50 for the day pass (24 hrs) was better value because of the heavy rain and the big puddles!

                

Some pieces from the Art Biennale

The next day we headed to the train station – a short walk from our accommodation Hotel Marin– and after quite a few visits to Venice being close to the train station is a very easy location to base yourself. Dragging your luggage long distances over the cobblestones and bridges of Venice is no fun. So it was back to work for me – our train trip to Florence meant the start of the ICS (International Continence Society) Conference and signalled I had to get my brain out of holiday mode and into conference mode and I wasn’t sure it was going to be that easy…..holidays are such fun.

Hotel Marin 10 minute walk from the train station (very small rooms but reasonably priced and clean)

Farewell Venezia  and hello to Firenze.

(1) Sourced https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sion,_Switzerland 13/9/17

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