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Friday, May 31, 2013

May 26 – Sunday – Venice, Italy

May 27 – Monday – Venice, Italy

AHHHhhhhhh, here we are at the end our cruise, and our beautiful home at sea is gone.  What a lovely time we had.  We were rocked to sleep at night and fed all the food we could eat and more.  We were entertained when we wanted to be, quiet when we wanted to be alone and met some new friends.  I would recommend this type of travel to anyone who likes to relax and has hobbies like reading and resting, or those who like running around from town to town when there are ports-of-call.  It can be restful or tiring, your choice.  I like the days at sea best.

Well, here we are in Venice.  Our first day, while still on the ship was spent checking out our future hotel and the train station.  We were going to walk our suitcases from the ship to the hotel and wanted to be sure how far this would be.  It looked pretty easy on the map.  Of course the map looks pretty flat.  Venice has hundreds of little bridges, with many little and sometimes big steps. 

Venice (ItalianVenezia [veˈnɛttsja] VenetianVenexia [veˈnɛsja]; (LatinVenetia)) is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshyVenetian Lagoon, which stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.

Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice's comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), with a total population of 1,600,000. PATREVE is only a statistical metropolitan area without any degree of autonomy.

The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals.
Students waiting for their school water bus

The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

History, art, beauty and bridges….Venice here we come.  We left the ship on our second day.  In order to get our luggage to the hotel we walked from the ship to the People Mover, then over two fairly medium size Venice type step bridges.  I’ve taken a picture of some of our lighter luggage at the top of one bridge. 

John was already dragging the big ones down the other side.  It took us under an hour, but we saved about $150 Euros by not hiring a water taxi for a fifteen minute ride.  We are slowly working off the ship calories!  We are also coming to the reality that we are not in ‘Shipville’ any longer.  Everything here is expensive!

After saying farewell to the ship and getting our luggage to the hotel we finally got to explore the city.  The desk clerk advised that there was a free shuttle to the Murino Glass Factory.  We decided to hop on that first.  We got to watch them blow some beautiful glass and then see the show room.  Sorry no pictures as everything is proprietary. 

We then hopped another water taxi to Saint Marks Square to take in all the must see sights.  Unfortunately, everyone else thought it was a must-see, too.  It was so crowded we could hardly move.  As we stood on the walk bordering the water, a complete wedding party passed right in front of us.  I’ve got a movie of this.  Unbelievable to see so many people in one spot.  The lines to get into the buildings in the area were so long that it would take at least three to four hours just to reach the door.  John and I decided that life is too short.  Both he and I had been there before; thus, we walked on.

We loved our walk wandering back to our hotel.  John had the map and navigated.  Sometimes we were not quite sure where we were going, but my navigator saved the day, and we arrived safely back at the hotel just in time for dinner.  Oh….did I mention that during our wandering we stopped for pizza at a little shop and ate it on a step of one of those many bridges I told you about?

The hotel desk directed us to a restaurant that fed Americans before the rest of the Europeans ate (i.e. about 6 o’clock).  We had the best Ravioli stuffed with cheese and spinach I have ever eaten.  The antipasti was also wonderful.  I could tell you where the restaurant is, but not the name.  I think that you might find a number of good Italian pasta restaurants around the Venice train station from what I saw.  There is also a lot of good souvenir shopping.  I loved looking at the glass beads and the masquerade masks.

Tomorrow we are headed to the train station, and it’s off to Zurich.  I have one more towel animal for you.  Sleep tight and I’ll see you in Zurich.

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