Friday, June 20, 2014

April 2, 2014 - Venice

The Travelpod blog was written by Doug on this day. All his words are in italics and all my new commentary is in normal text.

This morning, I woke up before the sun rose to go for a run. The only times you're easily able to run in the crowded streets of Venice are when sane people are still sleeping. I wasn't sure if I was ready to tackle the often confusing alleys that lead all over the city and make it back in time for the tour we were scheduled to take this morning, so I ran over the 2 bridges we already acquainted ourselves with yesterday and tried to find a route to the main bridge leading into Venice. It's the way the trains, buses, and cars come in, and we saw a guy running on the sidewalk of the bridge on our way in -- so that was my plan.

I managed to find a way out there, and just as I made my way across the street, a pair of runners went by in the same direction going roughly the same speed. I just followed them, creepily, until I figured I had gone out far enough, flipped a bitch, and came back in with plenty of time to spare.


We took breakfast (calzione) in our room. It was an Italian breakfast -- croissants, rolls, jellies, nutella, and some succo d'arancia (orange juice). (Note: my Italian is terrible, but it's better than Lizzie's, so I'm just rubbing it in.) Our lovely hostess brought it to our room when we called her and we ate and got ready for our day.

After our attempts to navigate the oft-confusing streets of Venice, we decided to take the vaparetto down to St. Mark's Square this morning to make sure we made it on time to meet Federica, our guide. Unfortunately, 8am is also the time many of the workers are also travelling down the Grand Canal to work in the morning. We bought our ticket and climbed aboard. Lizzie managed to find a corner where we could stand and make a little room for ourselves without being too crowded.

We waited as the crowd filled up the boat, and we slowly sunk deeper into the water. One stop later, we picked up more passengers than I thought the vessel could hold. I'm pretty sure we could have crammed more people on that boat if we had really tried, but I'm glad that we did not. I am also _extremely_ glad that Lizzie didn't freak out and snap at somebody (me). Public transportation.. in the form of a boat... in a very crowded area. I felt this was a trifectus of things that Lizzie dislikes. But she made it with a smile on her face.  I was also impressed with myself here. I did not freak out at all! Winning.

The end of the line came sooner than we had expected. We wanted to take the vaparetto all the way to San Marco, but we were only paying attention to the line number, not the destination. The vaparetto let off at Rialto, and we had to disembark with the masses. The dock did have another vaparetto, but not for another 30 minutes, and we only had 20 to get to the square. IMG_0364

So we walked the rest of the way. Lizzie, iPhone in hand, navigated our way through the streets with precision, and we made it to the square with 5 minutes to spare. He makes me sound pleasant here. I am sure I was frustrated we were on the wrong vaparetto, but I got us there well enough. I hate being late! Smile

We arrived early and got some photos of the square under a misty sky. It is actually quite pretty.


We met our guide between the two pillars on the square and started our tour. She was very knowledgeable about Venice's history -- and if retain 25% of that information, I would be ecstatic. We went through the Doge's Palace and the Basilica with Federica, and I'll see what points I can remember here in list form:

  • The Republic of Venice was ruled by a Doge. A Kingdom has a King, the Republic had an elected Doge.
  • The government of Venice also ruled over the church
  • The symbol of the flying lion is a symbol of the city of Venice. The lion is also a symbol of St. Mark.
  • Before St. Mark's remains were stolen from Egypt, the patron saint of Venice was St. Theodore.
  • Doge's wear funny looking hats
  • There was a Doge that had attempted to turn himself into a King and give himself greater power than the people wanted. That Doge was in power for less than a year, the people killed him, and in the enormous room that held the thousands of lawmakers for Venice, there is a portrait of every Doge painted along the ceiling. In his place is a black flag that basically reminds any future Doge what happens to power hungry government officials in Venice.
  • Frescoes in Venice are a terrible idea. With all the shifting that happens when building on sediment, your beautiful artwork is only going to crumble into the ocean. Put it on canvas.
  • Much of Venice is a facade. The domes of the church are wooden with lead for waterproofing. The outsides are covered in more beautiful materials. Most of Venice is build with wood and brick with more extravagant facades facing the areas that visitors see. Even the elaborate church displays only brick to areas of the palace that aren't typically seen by visitors. This may be another reason that Venetians are so proud of their masks
    . Don't get me wrong, though, the facades are _beautiful_. And very practical in a sinking city since wood and brick are forgiving to the shifting foundation.

There are so many more points I could list here -- and maybe I'll come back to fill in more details. But I don't want to bore you too much with facts. Our tour was very interesting and added a nice twist to some of the major sightseeing attractions in Venice.

Here we are inside the Doge’s Palace:


Doug with the famous horses of St. Mark:IMG_0386

The Basilica di San Marco has become my new favorite church. There is just so much going on with the way the church was built. We didn't get too many pictures because photos aren't allowed, but I'd say a good 50-60% of the people in that church didn't respect the signage. We felt maybe we had to while we were with our guide, but when she left us upstairs to our own devices, we snapped a few pics because it was just too incredible not to.

They only turn the lights on for an hour every day, and the lights came on right around the time our guide left us. It definitely changed the way those golden mosaics looked -- from a dim, dreary looking church to a glittering golden church.. just add light!


From the top of St. Mark you can see the sun came out and cleared the day for us.


My obsession continues with the winged Lion (St. Mark):






My holding the two patron saints of Venice.IMG_0418

The steepest steps I had ever seen leading up to the second story of St. Marks. Little did I know steeper steps awaited us in Cinque Terre. IMG_0419

After our tour, we sat and enjoyed the square…IMG_0426

 and I took the most boring video ever. Watch if you are really bored.

The most boring video ever–but you get to see St. Mark’s Square

After our tour, we started getting hungry, so we set out for a Rick Steve's recommended restaurant near the Rialto area.


We found it without too much trouble, but unfortunately, all the tables were reserved. The counter service was available, but I think we both wanted to sit down after our walk filled morning. If Lizzie didn't, I definitely did. We went back toward the direction we came and stopped at a restaurant in the courtyard, L'Olandese Volante. Lizzie got gnocchi, I got a lobster fettuccini. IMG_0464IMG_0465

Both were delicious, albeit a little overpriced. I think we were both beyond the hangry point for the second day in a row. We do need to get better about when we take breaks for food. I also had a Birra Venezia -- I asked for the darker beer, and I tasted like a bock. It definitely hit the spot after walking around all day.

I loved seeing all the animals walking around Venice! I might have taken a few photos of them…


After lunch, we stopped into another gelateria. This one was planned after the restaurant we were supposed to eat at -- I knew this one was close by. Susa Gelatoteca. I had a suso and panacotta mix that was delicious. Suso was their toffee and caramel flavor. My gelato tour of Italy continues. I have not yet been disappointed. Lizzie can have France with their pastries if I can have Italy's gelato.




We meandered back to our hotel and took a brief riposo before heading back out in the evening to walk around St. Mark's Square at night. This time we walked to the Square and we picked up pizza on the way there. IMG_0508

We listened to Rick Steve's audio tour and the beautiful orchestra playing to the square and dodged the street vendors trying to sell us glowing helicopter pods and roses. They were seriously annoying. I got hit smack in the head this night with one of those stupid helicopters. I should have stepped on it and smashed it.

It was hard to stay mad with such beauty around us.



I LOVE this photo of all the gondolas just floating near St. Mark Square.


Afterward, we caught the vaparetto back to our hotel (because I was too tired to walk. ha.)


(This was the most peaceful ride. I _really_ enjoyed it.)



at the top of the fish and we're back here for the night.


We had another beautiful day in Venice. I'm sad we're leaving tomorrow. This has been a fantastic visit. I would definitely come back here in the future.

As an unrelated side note: I just want to state that bidets are fantastico and I don't know why we don't use them in the US.

Lizzie Fitbit Step count: 22,671
Doug’s Fitbit Step count: 20,083

Love and Hugs, Lizzie

1 comment:

  1. That's it, I've decided. I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow.