Thursday morning was another up early day. I don't think I went swimming in the morning, but we got off to Venice as early as we could (7am?) There were only 8 of us going. Weavers, Amy & Kathie, O'Neals, judiang & me. That seaside drive killed the desire to drive around & go on long day trips. I think it's good that the other couples didn't go - you need more than 5 hours in Venice for the Romance.
The drive, calculated to be 3.5 hours, wound up being 5 hours, nearly. Only one turn astray when we tried one garage, only to decide to park closer. We found a garage that was €19 for the day (Gah!) and where you left your keys in the car (Gah!) Very bizarre.
We bought €10.50 24 hour ferry/bus tickets since we didn't know what the day was going to unfold into. Then we took the #3 ferry to the Island of San Marco to see the cathedral & Doge's palace.
The ferry took 45 minutes & was very warm. (The weather was getting warmer each day, as were the nights). We got to San Marco & looked around. Lots of cool Mardi Gras masks for sale, but I didn't buy any.
When we got to the cathedral, I was amazed by the mix of marble! Very pretty & colorful exterior. So unique! Took photos, of course. Going inside wasn't to be - the line was major long.
So, we wandered a bit in the square, then got lunch at a cafe at the square. €4 ham, cheese, lettuce sammich on floury white roll. €2 for water, too. WE sat on the steps of the square & munched (after being chased away by the cafe ladies cuz we were originally blocking their path to the outside customers). Not a great sammich, but today was not a food day.
Gelato from another place at the square (€2 for vanilla & hazelnut - the vanilla slightly lemony). And then some folks wanted to go to the Doge's palace. When I thought the fee was €5.50, I thought I might, but no, it was €11. Not interest. Judi had already bought a ticket, however, and ended up going with Tammy, Amy, Kathy & Dave. Mary, John & I decided to walk through the streets & I'm glad I did.
Venice is like no other city on the planet. And best of all, it didn't stink! I wasn't looking forward to being in a hot place that smelled, but it was quite fine.
We stuck to shady alleys and enjoyed the city sights. We saw a long train of gondolas ride by - watched for a bit, then walked on. 6 people was the max for any gondola. And they go slow - without trying, we outpaced them.
We consulted John's compass and found a way that seemed to get back to the Grand Canal and in the process, walked by an Internet Cafe. We still had 30 minutes before meeting the others, so I got to go in, read an e-mail from mom, reply, and do a very quick update to my LJ.
John popped in to see if I was done and I was. So I paid €3.90 for the time and moved off with the others.
John & I checked out some of the gondoliers, testing out the prices. First guy said €80 per ride and only 6 could fit. Next one had a tour for €315. The next, €120. This last group was the persistent one. As we walked back to the Doge's palace, one of the gondoliers came by with a deal - we said we couldn't go cuz the other 5 were not with us. He took that as a barter, but we finally fobbed him off.
Soon, a second gondolier came with a very special offer if just the 3 of us went right now. We tried to explain there were still 5 not with us. Including a husband & a wife. Finally, a third gondolier came to us saying we three could ride for only €25 a piece. He even said he was the owner & couldn't go lower due to company policy, but we had to go right then. Once again, we tried to explain ourselves, then made our escape.
So John & I were ready to gondola ride. Meanwhile Tammy & the girls wanted to shop. Guess what happened? Shopping. It wasn't easy to get out of Calle de Rossi with everyone because of all the little shops, but we finally did and got back to the Grand Canal. We saw a gondola company we'd not seen before & they were €80 a boat. So €20 a person.
The ride was the highlight of the trip. Our gondolier was funny & bragging about having 3 bottles of white wine already. He explained that gondolas (gondole in all the signs) were asymmetrical - left side is longer than the right. So it always lists to one side, until the gondolier gets to his position. I asked about right handed gondolas, but he said there were none.
Judi & I were in one with the O'Neals, the others were in the lead gondola. Our guy showed us Casanova's house & Marco Polo's island. They took a slightly longer route, he said, because they weren't tired. There weren't a whole lot of folks doing gondolas that day for some reason. Probably the heat.
When the ride was over, we headed back to the ferry. Of course, shopping happened. And getting everyone to the ferry was a real chore - we kept losing people. Finally, John, Judi, Dave, and I got onto a ferry & called out that we were leaving. Mary & the girls soon joined and we had the hottest 45 minutes of the trip. Gah!
We returned to the garage and thankfully our car was still there. We then headed for the autostrade & got separated when John took a wrong turning & we didn't follow. Still, we got back together & headed home
A stop @ an Autogrill was our supper. I got pesto on that wriggly short pasta & could easily have gotten pesto that bad in the States. Still, the fruit tart was good. A glass of Sprite finished off the meal. It was €11.50 or somesuch.
It ended up taking us 4.5 hours to get back & poor Dave was a bundle of nerves after the trip. Italian drivers are mad. We saw so many swevers & had some close calls too. But we got home safely & I could go swimming finally.
I, of course, took LOADS of photos. I shall include some here.
The Grand Canal. Difficult to steer gondolas on the Grand Canal, but this guy is doing a decent job of it.
The Cathedral at San Marco. This photo doesn't do it justice. Each column is made using different types of marble. The colors in person were phenomenal.
The Doge's Palace & square. Pigeon heaven.
The infamous Bridge of Sighs. It connects the Doge's Palace (left) with the prison (right).
John Astin visits Venice... OK, so not really. I just now realized that guy sort of looks like Gomez from the Addams Family TV show. Note the canal behind him?
Judi and I enjoy a gondola ride! Yes, the gondolier is on his cell phone.
Geez, it's been a month since we were in Italy! *sniff* Still, it's fun to be back at work, even though I'm snowed under with tech requests. But I'm making progress & I'm having fun with my students. (Physics is still in flux - lost another girl today. Alas!)