Come Rain or Acqua Alta

'What if,' says Adeline, 'It rains cats and dogs on the day of the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge?'

We've never been really prepared for getting wet when we visited Venice before. We own more umbrellas we've bought in Venice than we've acquired in South Africa in a lifetime. Certainly the chances of rain on the day is quite high, given Europe's tendency for a downpour every second day. Mental note: Buy rain-proof cover for camera.

I decide to play devil's advocate. 'What if it happens to be the highest acqua alta in history on the day?'

For the uninitiated, acqua alta refers to the unusually high tide that hits the sinking city of Venice every now and again.  Lately it's been particularly high, turning St Mark's Square into a huge swimming pool and making shopping by boat quite normal.

Now imagine if I have to cross one hundred bridges in Venice on 24 April, rowing from one bridge to another. Or even just sloshing the route through ankle high water.

So this afternoon Adeline came home with a large package and ceremoniously unpacked it on the kitchen table. It contained two sets of wellies. Not just ordinary wellies, but one set with Impressionist flower patterns on, and the other with a kind of Botticelli fantasy of heaven, or something.

Don't worry everyone, we won't stand out in Venice, there gumboots are style accessories. We may in fact be underdressed, depending on  the fashion of the day in waterproof wear.

So come rain or acqua alta the Challenge will go on. In fact, it may just go swimmingly. And we're prepared.

If you haven't done so yet, please support the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge over at Indiegogo, and receive a postcard from Venice, or more!

...and the first bridge is...

Right, where shall we start?

It's quite difficult choosing the first bridge of the one hundred I'll be crossing during the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge. Should it be the prettiest bridge? One that'll make a good photograph in the early hours of the morning? Or one that's at point that is a logical start of a route across Venice, seeing that I've only got twelve hours or so to pass by each one of them. Sigh, choices, choices...

After looking at the map of a while I decided to start at the bridge which is probably the remotest on the island, on it's south-eastern corner - the Bridge of Gardens in Castello. I vaguely recall passing by this bridge on a previous trip when I visited the Biennale, so if you're familiar to Venice you'll know which area I mean. It's an area that's strangely un-Venetian, with parks and open space quite unique to the well-know and much-photographed Venice, which is densely built-up and cluttered in a way. It's in fact quite a nice area to unwind in after a long day of museum visits and surviving the tourist crowds.

Since we're staying in Murano it means an early morning vaporetto ride to the St Elena station, the closest vaporetto station, from where the Challenge will officially start. And from there we'll be making our way across Castello. 

Next time: What bridges in the rest of Castello?

* If you haven't done so already, please check the Challenge Indiegogo page and support the project!

The Indiegogo campaign is live!

That's it. The Gondola has, in a manner of speaking, been pushed into the water. Now it's just row, row, row.

When I got the idea for the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge a few weeks ago, I thought it would just be something to do while I'm in Venice for ten days in April.

But then one conversation around the kitchen table led to another, and I thought to myself, why not make it into a book?

I've published a few photo collections through the years, so if I was going to end up with a few hundred photos of different bridges in Venice, why not do the same?

More-over, why not make it something other lovers of could participate in through social networks on the Internet?

That led me to set up the Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the Challenge, but also to share some goodies I can make while at it.

After a week or so of writing, gathering material and jumping through all the hoops the Indiegogo campaign to raise money that'll enable me to publish the Challenge book in the second half of the year is now ready.

You can visit the campaign page here and find out more about the Challenge and see some of the benefits I'm offering - a postcard from Venice, a poster I'll be producing, and of course, signed copies of the book itself.

Please help me realise this goal by supporting it through Indiegogo!

What if I get horribly lost?

Getting lost comes with the territory in Venice. Its warren of narrow lanes, canals and campi - courtyards - that are laid out in a confusing tangle are easy to get lost in. One of the most common sights in Venice is a tourist, map in hand, looking around in a sort of dazed way, checking for names and direction indications. Except, I won't be a tourist, and I won't have all day to get where I'm going.

While I'm doing the best I can to ensure I can move from one bridge to another without losing my way (I'm counting on you, Google Maps) I'll be quite surprised if I'm not waylaid once or twice. Given that I'm on a very, very tights schedule it's going to be interesting to see how that affects how long the Challenge takes.

It brings up lots of memories from the series Amazing Race, where sometimes competing couples soldiered on long into the night in order to complete a challenge (!!) only to give up all tired and flustered, and be elimiminated from the race.

Fortunately I'll have Adeline with me. I may be the better reader in the family but she's way more direction conscious than me. Which should be make for a good couple to make sure I stay on time.

Preparations are in place!

I'm busy re-reading some of the many books on Venice I've read in the past, just to get a feel for the history of the place again. They're all standards that people who like Venice will know, and all required reading for people planning a visit. Top of the list are books by John Ruskin and Jan Morris, and I'm scan-reading the Peter Ackroyd one. For fun I may watch the Al Pacino version of the Merchant of Venice, an absolutely superb film. All on the iPad... what did people do before the iPad?

All is in place now for the launch of the Indiegogo campaign. I just need to put the promo video to bed, hopefully tonight, with Adeline's help. So I'll probably flip the switch tomorrow, and then there's no turning back.

The gondola has been boarded, and is sailing down the canal.