Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
Day 37: Venice, Italy
Day 38: Rome, Italy
Day 39: Rome, Italy
Day 40: Rome, Italy
Day 41: Rome Italy
Day 42: Florence, Italy
Day 43: Tirrenia (Pisa), Italy



Hotel Galleria


Sunny with a high of 24°C


Day 36: Tuesday, October 10, 2006     Venice, Italy

Water, Water Everywhere;
"Get Lost!"

Sadly, 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 MacDonald

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 water

Venice Map

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

A typical 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

shouting my 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.

We asked 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.

We 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

Kathryn feeding 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 Sighs)

We had 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.

Day 37

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