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Day 3: Venice

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Since we are supposed to be on vacation, we’re not setting the alarm unless we absolutely have to be somewhere. That resulted in not getting up until 8:30am, a later start than we anticipated. And my body finally caved in to the cold it had been holding off for a couple of days but there was no longer ignoring it was now in full force. And the high today was forecasted to be 38. Joy! Good thing I brought my long johns, and we’re just very glad it didn’t rain today.

Breakfast in the hotel was OK – fairly standard Hilton European buffet fare, although we agreed Milan’s was better. They did have congee, an Asian style rice sort of soup with ginger and peanuts. It was good but not for breakfast.

We missed the 10:20 bus shuttle we’d planned on taking so had to wait another 30 minutes. That combined with getting a late start just sort of solidified it was not going to be an aggressive day for us and several “if we have time” items quickly fell off the list. We figured that was probably the way it should be; take it easier and hopefully I’ll get better faster.

 Dan took some shots around our hotel while we were waiting for the next boat.
 This is just after we got off the boat. This walk along the canal is much prettier than my expression would lead you to believe.

 

 You’ll see lots of pictures of gondolas today. When in Rome and all that. Or Venice I guess I should say. We did, however, long ago nix the idea of a ride. It was a ridiculous price as I recall (€85 a person I believe). I get how it would be worth it to some; not us 🙂

 

Our first stop was Doge’s Palace. Venice was a Republic from about 700AD to 1800AD, and the Doge was the supreme authority. The heyday of the Republic was 1200-1500; this palace was constructed in the mid 1300s, with surely some of the artwork done later. The line to get in was long, but we had pre-paid tickets so swooped right in. This courtyard was the first thing you see. That’s St. Mark’s Basilica in the background.

 Nice shot Dan got of the sun coming through over the canal.
 This place is one of the most ornate we’ve seen anywhere.
Old Venice loved festivals and acrobats were a big part of them. This pyramid of men was fascinating to me, because of the use of wooden boards for stability and so many layers. How did they get up there?
 I took this from the side. Notice how the support guys are planking backwards, with the men on top standing on their legs and shoulders. Ouch? I guess it’s better than all that weight being on your back.
 We’ve seen a lot of ornate halls over the years, and both agreed this boots Bruges off our #1 spot as the most ornate. It’s huge, and every square inch is a work of art, filled in with gold, or both.
 Different room, smaller, same style. There were several of these.

 

An outside staircase we couldn’t go up but we liked the two statues at the top.

 

 This was the exit from the Palace, with St. Mark’s to our immediate left as we’re looking back at it. The winged lion is the symbol of St. Mark, and is on the Venetian flag (both the Republic and the current one).
 St. Mark’s square. Or here, Piazzo San Marco. We’re went straight ahead to the opposite end, where another series of museums were available on the same ticket we bought. There were 3 of them and they all flowed together, we couldn’t really distinguish them. The surprise was when we were done, we came out way on the other side to the left of this picture, sort of parallel to where we’re standing now, essentially crossing the square again from the inside. We had no idea we’d walked that far.
 Dan loves pre printing press books because every page is a work of art. It’s actually bigger than it looks in this picture, but still about the size of my palm.
The Venetians loved their ornate rooms.

 

St. Mark’s was next. Admission was free, and they kept the line moving so even though it was long it went fast. We figured from the way it looked that it’s older than Cologne; turns out it’s older than Notre Dame even, built 1084-1092. Style is Italo-Byzantine.
 Photos were prohibited but Dan managed to sneak a few in.

 

 We don’t think we’ve seen color painted on the outside of a cathedral before.

 

Next was the bell tower, or Campanile. It’s 323 feet high. Original design from the 1514, but this version was constructed in 1912 after it collapsed in 1902. We did it solely for the views. And were disappointed that it was an elevator and not stairs!

 

 

 That’s St. Mark’s in the bottom right.

 

Santa Maria delle Salute. We tried to get to this church but essentially ran out of time because it’s not easy to get to. That’s the Grand Canal running between us and it, and there aren’t a lot of bridges over the Grand Canal (which we find odd for a string of islands, but who are we?).

 

This is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. It’s supposed to be a lovely retreat away from the throngs of San Marco island (where we spent most of the day), with a bell tower as well. Again ran out of time. But it’s pretty! Back in the day, those buildings housed a church and a monastery. Now, among other things, is a theater for performing arts.
 That’s the Doge’s Palace on the left; this plaza leads into St. Mark’s Square.
  The domes of St. Mark’s.
More winged lions. I loved the blue, which you hardly ever see. We went down this passage way in search of lunch.

 

 Who knows.
 Much better.
 This is the same spot where we took the photo last night, came across it from another angle.

 

They’re kinda opulent.

 

 

 Random church we stumbled into.

 

 I see a new cover photo coming.
 We found a cute little place for lunch that didn’t feel all that touristy. It was good. But not as good as yesterday’s and more expensive. Oh well. Dan had a seafood spaghetti dish, I had carbonara (which was pretty yummy I have to say).
 Another random church.
 St. Mark’s Square at dusk. Pretty, ain’t it?
We were hoping for a nice dusk shot of this island as well but the sun was setting fast and there wasn’t enough light by the time we got there, so it’s a little grainy.

And that’s a wrap for Venice. I asked Dan as we were heading back to the boat if he felt like we’d done and seen enough and he said “yes” very quickly. I wasn’t sure; but as I looked through TripAdvisor’s Top 10 just now, we did 6 of them (several are all related to St. Mark’s); and others in the top 15 we didn’t need to do (like more churches or the modern art museum). This was mostly a visual trip for us and we felt like we saw everything we needed to in what wasn’t more than 24 hours. It’s definitely one of the more unique places we’ve been and we’re happy to scratch if off the list.

We got back to the hotel about 6pm. We stopped by our room briefly then brought our laptops down to the lounge where Dan did some work and I did this. I will get to bed earlier than any night so far which is probably good given my condition. We have a 9:25am train ride to Florence tomorrow so will get a fairly early start. Of all of the cities on this itinerary, Florence is the one I’m the most excited about. So we’ll see!

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