7 November 2015

I sat in St. Mark's Square with my camera, but Rossano Brazzi never showed up.  I guess that was because (a) he's dead and (b) I'm no Katharine Hepburn.  Or it might have been that I was with a group.

(Char took this)

I loved Summertime as an adolescent and have wanted to go to Venice ever since.  It's a lot different than the magic of that film!  But let's go back to the beginning.

It was a big "event" arriving in Venice.  All the decks were filled with people and their cameras and a guide talked us in, pointing out landmarks as they appeared.  I never realized it was so sprawled out or that it consisted of so many islands,

The Little Tugboat that Could pulled us into the dock.

The best part of being in with everyone watching the landing was getting a photo of our favorite...employee?  Ivana seems to be everywhere and is so sparkling and bouncy you can't help but feel good when you see her.

Walt and I had a big breakfast (sitting next to a couple who had lived for 37 years in our old Oakland neighborhood!) and so I wasn't interested in lunch.  Our afternoon tour was to leave at 12:30.  I suppose I should have used the time to pack (we have to have bags out by 10 p.m. tonight) but I sat and read instead.

At the recommended time we left the ship and started walking to the water taxi.  Walt guesstimates it was the length of 2 football fields.  He had seen a transport for people with mobility problems earlier, but there was none in sight and nobody mentioned any so we walked.  When we reached the halfway point (a building we passed through) I asked  the Compassion rep if this was the end of the tour.  She said no.  No sense of humor whatsoever.

[aside:  As I write this, the 5:30 Angelus bells are ringing from some nearby church.  Somehow it's magic]

While we stood and waited to board the boat, I got this neat picture of the ship between statues.

The boat shuttle gave us about an hour tour of the harbor, pointing out various landmarks (in totally unintelligible English).  The one thing I noticed was that the area of St. Marks Square, the Bridge of Sighs, etc. was mobbed.

(Later at the end of the day, when we were going back to the ship, I noticed that from as far as I could see from the left of St. Mark's square to as far right as I could see--more than a mile, I'm sure, it was wall to wall people.  Reminded me of that old Star Trek  episode, "The Mark of Gideon," where Kirk is brought in to introduce disease to a planet that was so full of people (because they never died) that they had no room to move.)

But we did see some nice sights.

The Bridge of Sighs, which condemned prisoners walked over from the Doge's Palace (left) to the prison where they were going to be executed (you'd sigh too, I imagine!).

Another bridge

Another dome

Even the trees were beautiful.

When we finally got to the dock, we met our tour guide, who picked up his little lollipop, #6, held it aloft and took off, telling us to keep up. That's the last we saw of him.  He got so far ahead of Bob and me and we couldn't even hear him in our Quiet Vox, so we decided to just do our own tour.

We finally made our way down to St. Mark's Square and it was so crowded all we really wanted to do was sit and have a coffee, so we went to a very high priced cafe and probably had the most expensive pizza and cappuccino we have ever (or will ever) have...but it was just right.

(please note Jello shirt)

We sat there for a long while, people watching, pigeon watching, and listening to the bells that rang from time to time. Then Linda and Char went for gelato.  Char got pistachio and was a happy camper.

Eventually, Walt, Char and I made our way down to where we could see St. Mark's itself.

St. Mark's Square is more a place to buy souvenirs than anything else!

No romantic interludes for Katharine and Rossano over a quiet glass of wine while a string quartet across the plaza serenades them.  No quiet anything there!  And the line to get IN to the church stretched at least half the distance from the door down length of the piazza.  Good thing we hadn't planned to see it.  I did see the famous four horses, though.  I had seen a story about them on TV once.

From Wikipedia: They are a set of bronze statues of four horses, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga (a four-horse carriage used for chariot racing) The horses were placed on the facade, on the loggia above the porch, of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, after the sack of Constantinople in 1204. They remained there until looted by Napoleon in 1797 but were returned in 1815. The sculptures have been removed from the facade and placed in the interior of St. Mark's for conservation purposes, with replicas in their position on the loggia.

At our appointed time, we started to go to the water taxi meeting place....

...on the other side of the blue square...through all that mass of people.  I did, at least, stop to get the requisite photo of gondolas.

When we got back to where we started, there was still no shuttle and we had, they tell us, ~150 m to walk to the ship, which seemed MUCH longer than it did that morning.  I was really hurting, and hobbling and at one point nearly crying.

The warning came a little too late.

When I called and complained to the Explorer Desk, the girl was defensive and told me the notice WAS in the daily newspaper.  Yeah, but where was the shuttle???  Linda also complained and got no satisfaction either.

We went to dinner at 6 and asked for Angelo's table.  Something was just "off" in the kitchen and the restaurant tonight.  Nothing you could put your finger on, but everyone seemed stressed, there were longer than usual waits for food, and though Angelo was fun, he wasn't his old self.  But the food was good.  I was sorry Angelo was nowhere to be found when we left.  I would like to have said goodbye.

We had to have our suitcases out by 10 p.m. so Viking can transfer them to our hotel in the morning.  I hope I have enough space in my carry on stuff to put everything that I did NOT put in the big suitcase. 

We have to be off the ship by 8 a.m. tomorrow and then a new part of our adventure begins.


Starter was a delicious bri baked in phylo on a cranberry sauce
Main course was Cornish hen on a bed of faro pilaf with zucchini and cranberries
And my final dessert had to be the Tira Misu

I wonder what we will be eating tomorrow.  And where.

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