Day 36: Tuesday, October 10, 2006
the Cruise is over. We had gone on several 7-day Caribbean
cruises in the past and always thought that seven days was
enough. Now after our 12-day cruise we will never do seven
days again. The ship docked in Venice during the night. We went up to the
Lido deck and had a huge, huge breakfast with our Calgary
friends - our last meal on the boat. We sat and enjoyed
the morning sunshine and watched over the side as they loaded
supplies for the next cruise. They disembark the boat by
colored and numbered tickets and, because we were staying in
Venice for awhile and not catching a plane or train, we were in
the very last group to leave the ship. We went down the
gangway and claimed our luggage
Al R, Dave,
Ken, Carol, Donna, Arlene and Kathryn. Photo by Al
We caught the shuttle bus to the
Piazzale Roma which is the main bus terminal.
Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an
archipelago of 122 islands formed by about 150 canals in a
shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are
connected by about 400 bridges. In the old center, the canals
serve the function of roads, and every form of transport is on
or on foot as
their are no cars or trucks in Venice. We purchased tickets
for the vaporetto (motorized water bus) to take us to our hotel.
Each vaporetto has its own route and stays only on that route.
Each vaporetto has two workers: one driver and one person who
lets the passengers on and off. The person who lets passengers
on and off is also responsible for tying up the boat each time
it reaches the pier. We struggled getting 4 large and 2
small pieces of luggage on the crowded boat. We sat down
in the empty seats
Vaporetto on the busy Grand Canal
toward the back of the bus. This looked
like it was going to be a big
mistake as the vaporetto quickly filled up. We watched
people without luggage fight their way through the crowd at
front were the exit was, trying to get off at their stops.
Luckily when we got up at the stop before ours talking about how
we were never going to get off, an older Italian gentleman said
"No problem" and he helped clear a way for us and our luggage.
Kathryn had found us a nice, relatively inexpensive (for Venice)
hotel on the Grand Canal. The Hotel Galleria was
next to the vaporetto stop at the base of the Ponte dell'Accademia, one of the three large bridges that crosses the
Grande Canal. After we checked in, Kathryn went down and
took my picture (in white shirt in second floor window).
Then we changed places. I was
standing at the base of the bridge getting ready to take
Kathryn's photo when I heard someone
name. It was our Calgary cruise-buddies who were passing
by on the way to their hotel. Al MacDonald quickly snapped
the photo at left of me with my camera in my hand. What are the
chances that I would have been out there at that exact moment.
As we were checking in, we discovered another amazing
coincidence. Another couple had just checked in. It
turned out to be Brenda and Dan, a couple from Vancouver who had
the cabin across the hall from us on the ship and the table next
to us at dinner each night. What are the odds that they
would have checked into the same small nine-room hotel that we
did - small world.
Ken (red arrow)
waving to the MacDonalds and Lunns as they passed by.
our innkeeper for advice on what to do. He told us to "Get
lost!" - literally. He suggested we avoid the touristy areas
of Rialto and St. Mark's square until later in the day and go
explore the western district of Venice behind our hotel called the
Dorodoso (hard back, for its relatively hard ground).
Because Venice is an island intersected by hundreds of canals, he
said we couldn't really get lost. If you keep walking, you
eventually come to the Lagoon which separates Venice from its
surrounding islands to the south or you run into the Grand Canal.
This turned out to be the best advice we could have received.
Whenever we told people after our trip how much we loved Venice,
they almost always replied that they thought it was too touristy.
They must have missed the wonderful part of Venice we saw. So
if you are ever in Venice, GET LOST! Really! Turn down an unfamiliar
calle (street), and find yourself at the edge of a rio (canal), or at the entrance to
a small courtyard, in front of a never-before-seen shop, or an
out-of-the-way trattoria. There are wonders all over the city, and
it is by getting lost that you will find your very own Venice.
set out from our hotel strolling by a small elementary school.
We just followed the narrow streets. After a couple of
blocks we would come to a small bridge over a small canal.
On the other side we would go either left or right and take
another narrow street. This would open on to a campo
(square) or campiello (small square). These
squares would have a church that would be remarkable in Calgary
but was unknown in Venice. In addition there would be a
cafe or two with an outdoor patio where people were
sitting drinking coffee or wine. There would also be a few
shops selling masks, clothing or artwork. We noticed that
most of the shop owners brought their dogs to work with them. Then we would
cross a bridge, down another couple of streets and this would
open on another square and church. We walked through these
streets for hours, stopping for pizza in a small shop and just
enjoying the scenery and the friendly people.
Kathryn on a
small bridge over a canal. To the left is a typical
campiella with a church.
After several hours and countless little bridges, we
finally made our way around to the famous Rialto Bridge.
This shopping area is full of tourists - even the bridge has
shops on both sides. We walked along the Grand Canal and
then headed south for St. Mark's Square, where Kathryn
bought popcorn to feed the pigeons , then screamed when then
"attacked" her. Here we saw the famous St. Mark's
Basilica, which was built between 1063 and 1094. We noticed several large tables
stacked around the Square. We later found that these were
unstacked and pushed together so that they could be used to walk
the "friendly" pigeons
on when St. Mark's floods, which it does several times from
November to January. The Piazzo San Marco also has a
famous Campanile (Bell Tower). It is the oldest and
newest of the city's great structures. The oldest because
it was built on Roman foundations from the 9th century and the
newest because it collapsed in 1902. An exact replica was
finished in 1912. From the belfry you can get a
spectacular view of Venice but there was a huge line-up, so we
passed on this. Opposite the Campanile is the Torre
dell'Orologio (Clock Tower), another of the city's popular
tourist attractions. Two life size Moors figures of Moors
strike the hour since 1497.The southeastern part of the square
is the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, was the seat of
the government of Venice for centuries. As well as being the
home of the Doge (the elected ruler of Venice) it was the venue
for its law courts, its civil administration and bureaucracy and
— until its relocation across the Bridge of Sighs — the city
jail. We again avoided the tour of the Palace because of
the long line-up. On the east side of the Doges' Palace is
a bridge that was used to transport prisoners to the jail across
the river. The name "Bridge of Sighs" was invented
in the 19th Century, when Lord Byron helped to popularize the
belief that the bridge's name was inspired by the sighs of
condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the
executioner. (See Day 5 slideshow for Cambridge's Bridge of
heard that several people from Canada who were part of our AMA
cruise were going to meet for drinks that night at the famous
Harry's Bar near St. Mark's. We walked up and down the
Canal after receiving conflicting advice from several local people.
By now Ken's knees were acting up, so it was decided he would wait
by the Canal while Kathryn investigated some of the side streets.
As Ken was leaning against a wall, waiting for Kathryn to return, he
looked across the alley and saw a sign etched in the window of the
building on the other side. It read "Harry's Bar". When
Kathryn came back, we had a good laugh. We walked back to our
hotel for a rest. Later that evening we came back to Harry's
but didn't recognize anyone inside the small, packed bar - being
teachers, we were, of course, early. Kenny was not feeling
well and we knew that almost all of these people would be "old
farts", so we decided to head back to our hotel. We found an
excellent restaurant nearby called Taverna San Taverso, and
learned about dining Venetian style. You start with a first
course of pasta, then a second course of meat, then antipasto and
finally dessert. They almost seemed offended when we only
ordered one of each course and shared. After eating a great
meal, we walked back to our hotel and fell fast asleep.
Click here for a slide show of Day 36 photos.