Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 37: 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


Cool in the morning but sunny with a high of 24C


Day 37: Wednesday, October 11, 2006     Venice, Italy

What Do You Mean the Bank Card Doesn't Work;
Where's Fred?

We were served a continental breakfast in our room in the morning.  We ate it looking out the open window of our room.  We watched all kinds of kids coming off the Bridge or vaporetto on their way to the schools behind us.  Most of the younger ones were accompanied by a parent.  We also noticed several people getting off the vaporetto with a dog on a leash.  We wandered back to the Dorodoso to find an Internet cafe.  We read our email and sent an update to everyone back home.  Kathryn was running low on cash so she tried to get money from a bank machine.  She received a message saying her card didn't work and to call the bank. Since it was about 3:00 am in Canada we decided to wait until later.

It was another lovely day and our plan was to begin by visiting Lido, an 18 km long sandbar south of Venice.  Lido is famous for its lovely beaches.  We jumped on the #1 vaporetto and had a rather bouncy ride across the choppy lagoon.  There was a bank by the main terminal so Kathryn tried her card again.  This time she got through but it said there were not enough funds in the account.  This did not sit well with Kathryn.   She bought a phone card and tried to access the international operator to call her bank.  She was becoming very frustrated as she followed the instructions on the wall of the phone booth and kept getting phone operators or messages that were in Italian.  Ken, being a smart lad and realizing that any helpful phone assistance was not being well-received, suggested that we catch the vaporetto back to Venice and look for another phone before Kathryn had a complete meltdown.  We never did make it to the beach. 
We wanted to take some photos of Venice from the boat.  Although we were first in line, we waited for the third vaporetto which was one of the few which had some seats in front of the pilots cabin which would give us a better view.

We rode the vaporetto back across the lagoon and then down the entire length of the Grand Canal to the railways station near the Ponte dei Scalzi (the third Grand Canal Bridge).  This was an interesting trip as the Grand Canal is full of all many of boats.  You will see vaporetti, water taxis, gondolas, garbage barges, delivery boats, and traghetti (a gondola which costs 50 cents and goes directly back and forth across the Canal at various points because there are only three bridges that cross the Canal ).  You can see some of the photos I took along the way in the slide show below.

View of Venice heading back from Lido Island

We went into the railway station and found everything we needed to know for our train trip to Rome the next day.  Kathryn went to a tourist information centre and received proper instructions on how to use the phone card.  She got through to TD Bank and they had no idea why it said there was not enough funds.  He increased the daily amount and was just about to give her a collect phone number to use if we had further problems when time on the card ran out.

Kathryn very happy that her credit card now works

We explored the area around Scalzi Bridge and then caught the vaporetto back to our hotel.  We went looking in Dorodoso for a proper bank to get some money.  We had a delicious standup pizza lunch (it costs more if you sit down) and then bought a new phone card.  We tried to phone Kathryn's dad Fred but we only got the answering machine.  Now that we were pros using the phone card, we phoned our friend Dan Smith in his classroom as he was teaching his high school English class back in Calgary.  Dan did not find the situation quite as funny as we did.  Kathryn went to an Internet cafe to get a list of banks that would accept are bank cards while Kenny sat down at the outdoor cafe and ordered a shot of Grappa, a uniquely Italian drink. Traditionally, made from pomace, the discarded grape seeds, stalks, and stems that are a by-product of the winemaking process, this "firewater" is about 60% alcohol.  It tastes awful but Ken had a glass in honour of his Calgary teaching buddy Romel Raffin who had introduced him to the homemade variety.  Kathryn came back with a list of qualified bank machines but it didn't do us much good.  There are no maps that show all of the many streets and allies in Venice and the numbering system is not logical.  Frommer's guidebook says that "a maniac must have numbered Venice's buildings."  We searched for three different banks in the Dorodoso but were unable to find any of them.  We decided to go back to the hotel for a rest and stumbled across the right bank 15 m south of our hotel.   Kathryn was much happier now that she had some cash.  We tried three more times throughout the night to phone Fred and wish him a happy birthday.  We tried a few more times over the next few days and kept getting his answering machine.  Only when we returned home did we find out that he had actually fallen down on September 19, while we were in Lucerne, and broken his hip and shoulder.  He had hip replacement surgery and was still in the hospital when we arrived home at the end of October.  Kathryn sister made the decision not to tell us because there was nothing we could have done and it would have spoiled our holiday as we worried about Fred.

As the late afternoon sun started to set, we went for a walk, heading east instead of our usual west.  After a short stroll we arrived at the church of Santa Maria della Salute.  Shortly after we arrived, spotlights came on bathing the church in light.  We went back to our hotel, changed clothes and went out for dinner.  This time is was at a small trattoria, a specifically Italian institution more akin to an family-run eating club than a conventional restaurant. The menus are small, the service is casual, the prices low, and the emphasis is on a steady clientele rather than on haute cuisine. The food is modest but plentiful and is served family-style - we shared a table on the backyard patio with another couple.  Once again, "mama" who waited on us seemed disappointed that we shared one of each course.  The food was very good.  We went back to Santa Maria della Salute and took a few photos .  Then it was home to bed so we could get an early start.

Kenny standing on the steps in front of the church of Santa Maria della Salute at night

Click here for a slide show of Day 37 photos.

Day 38

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