Date of Trip: July 2009
Friday, July 17: Venice, Day 1
Took the Number 1 vaporetto to St. Mark’s — we wanted to get in the cathedral early & avoid some of the crowds. The line was already long, but it moved fairly well. Walked through the cathedral. The floor was beautifully tiled with many designs. We stood in a line for a while, but got out. I don’t know — see a line, get in it. Why? Don’t want to miss something. Jim later thought that maybe it was to view the partial remains of St. Mark, but looking it up, I think it was to see the jewels at the altar or to go up higher. The line was moving very slowly, so we skipped it — this time. We did walk through the Treasury, at the price of 3€ each, which included an audio tour. There were lots of beautiful things: chalices, intricate gold work, bones (well, not beautiful, but interesting.) No cameras allowed.
In the church gift shop, which had a lot of things and had long lines, also, Cate bought a cross pendant for €2. Great price!
Visited the Correr Civic Museum in Piazza San Marco that details the history of the city from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Many rooms, each with an information card explaining the artifacts or paintings in several languages, including English. After reading the card, we replaced it. There are rooms with armory, ship’s instruments, coins, portraits of city fathers, and different eras from the Greco-Roman through the Middle Ages.
After that, we stopped for…. that’s right, a gelato! Cate had one & Jim had a limone – slushie – €2 each.
We then took the boat to Murano. It was relatively quiet there, not many tourists. Lots of glass shops, of course, about one every 20 feet! Bought a few gifts and souvenir items, mostly for Cate’s gifts to bring home to family. We stayed for lunch at a sidewalk cafe — Ristorante DALLA MORA s.n.c. It was very nice. We paid €54 for 3 entrees, 4 cappuccinos (2,50€), a Coke (2,50€), and a beer (4,50€). – On the bill it lists 5 capp, 1 caffe?(1,60), 1 beer, 1 Coke. (Either we had more, or we didn’t check the bill carefully.) Anyway, it was still great! That’s 3 plates & 8 drinks. A good price for Europe. There was a 1€ cover charge each, and they add a 12% service charge/gratuity. It was right by the canal, and the quiet made it a nice change from the hectic pace of our days. On top of that, the weather was definitely cooler today, with a few low clouds — That right there is good!
Aside: Some of the European websites are poor. I’m talking about the Dubrovnik Restaurant and now the Murano one — lots of buttons but no working links. Well, the Della Mora has one link at the very bottom, a copyright link. I checked it out and found I could access the dinner menu from there, which brought me to the page where the home page should have taken me — this has 3 working links, one that takes me back to the home page and a dead end. They need some American computer geeks to help them!
Back to business: We wanted to go to Burano — next time!! — or Lido Island, but it was quite a distance farther and I had to get back to pack Cate’s suitcase.
Tip: This was mentioned earlier, but bears repeating: The vaporetto must be boarded away from (before) St. Mark’s to avoid the crowds. Get on as close to the beginning of the route as possible. People (locals, also) seem to avoid sitting inside, so there are often seats there, but the best place is in the front sections on the left and right. There are about 10 seats in each, and the left is a little better for a clear view of everything. Awesome photos!
We got some good seats again and headed back toward Ple. Roma. There were now large crowds forming for the evening’s festivities — Festa Del Redentore, Feast of the Redeemer.
Chairs were arranged in the Piazzas with center stages for musicians by the outdoor cafe tables. The canals were filling up with boats, many decorated with flags and balloons. Partygoers were gathered on the boats, ready for the evening.
We rode up the canal and the whole atmosphere was electric. Music and singing could be heard. Bridges were crowded with those establishing their viewing places. And it was only just after 6pm. Fireworks weren’t scheduled to start until 11:30pm.
As we approached our stop, one boat filled with partyers was playing “Mama-Mia” over a loudspeaker, and everyone was singing at the top of their voices. Other boats had music playing — all Italian favorites, of course! We took a lot of photos and a couple of movies of the scene.
Jim wondered why some were swimming in parts of the canals. Though the canals are cleaner than years ago, still they are probably dirty. (One woman we talked to said that on her trip many years ago, the smell was awful. She saw a cat that turned out to be a rat! Then the Dutch came & showed Venetians how to clean the canals.)
We saw a view of the evening’s fireworks from the ship, but it started late, at 11:45. It was large, although a mile away. The final burst that sounded like a nuclear explosion — though I’ve never heard one – came toward 12:30am. We thought it was a little silly that people were saving chairs on the viewing deck as early as 2pm! It’s just fireworks, for goodness sake — far away – imagine spending 9 hours cruise time guarding chairs! Venetian fireworks were a little disappointing in that they were monochromatic. A lot of green, then a lot of red, with no multicolored fireworks. We took some photos, deleting some, & a movie of the finale. Heard that someone took 500 photos — of fireworks!? Hopefully they’ll delete many — or their friends will avoid them!
Packing notes: Cate leaves for home tomorrow and we continue with the second leg of the back-to-back cruise. So I packed our extra books in Cate’s case (places we’d been), the olive oil and Polish foods amongst her clothes — Zip-loc bags. We’ll have a couple of post-cruise days (We’ll have to lug our cases on the train), and there’s no a/c in a lot of places, so I can add some things in her tote that might then be saved (Polish chocolate gingerbread cookies!) She will have help with the suitcase, so we packed it to the max weight, using our portable scale. It was handy having her help get our stuff safely home!