Saturday, November 24, 2012

Venice: Like No Other City on Earth

Venice is a great place to visit, but I understand why its population is quickly shrinking.  While 16th century Venice city planners were probably giving themselves a pat on the back for their successes, I'm surprised that 21st century Venice city planners are not committing more suicides.  

Sorry that's a cruel joke, Venice was not intended to be viewed through the lens of a practical engineer, but rather the lens of a hopeless romantic.  Fortunately I'm both.  It is true that Venice is on it's way to becoming a tourist-only museum; it takes a special kind of person to live here full time, and their numbers are few.

One of my favorite pictures for no particular reason

I heard many of the ground floors are empty due to flooding

Closest we got to gondola (why I'm hopeless)

Just another old church - I've lost track of what's what, there are so many

As the only guests in our hotel, the staff put out 2 hardboiled eggs, 2 croissants, and some nice coffee.  Kerry grabbed both eggs.  We then caught the vaparetto back to Venice for our first full day exploring the city.  First stop was the market.

Me admiring more seafood I can't buy - next time we book a room with a kitchenette

Cuttlefish before
Cuttlefish after, I can't tell if the ink actually tastes like anything

Then it was time to walk over to San Marco to tour the church.

We found it using only a compass and the free tourist map from the airport... well the signs helped too.

Kerry tricking a pigeon into thinking she had food for them, they wised up quick

View from the bottom

View from the top!  This view is worth 8 euro(?).

Luckily we visited on the quarter hour.

We then hopped on a vaparetto to tour the grand canal, thanks to Rick Steve's Audio Guide mp3s which we downloaded to our phones.  These give you some nice bits of information abut the history of the magnificent buildings lining the canal.

Kerry got a front row view during our self-guided tour

I question how "romantic" this is with massive boats buzzing by you chopping up the water.

"You don't say, Rick?"

The mailboat

We had one more tour stop that turned out to be the best:  the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.   We saw one of Donatello's wood sculptures, and final resting place of his bo staff.

Jethro Tull fanboy street performer near church

The Friari is big, but not much from the outside.  Beautiful paintings that I can't take pictures of inside, though.

After this visit I decided I'm a fan of Titian; he did some pretty interesting things with paint that I would have never appreciated had it not been for Mr. Steve.  

After this, we were pretty much worn out of looking at things, so we decided to wander and find a place for a glass of vino, and we did a bit of window shopping.

Stopped in a local grocery store and had a good laugh:  Pasta shapes!  Collect them all!

Shops in a narrow alley, probably selling those creepy carnival masks from Eyes Wide Shut
I was right!

It was common to hit a dead end

Stopped for some wine, and they broke out into a tasting session - but then found out it was not free :(.  It was fun listening to a wine presentation in Italian.  Well, I assumed it was wine; I could only make out bianco and rossi.

Best window shopping display in Venice.  A mannequin holding a mannequin baby, wearing a thong that spells out "Love My Virus" in rhinestones.  So bummed they were closed.  A quick post-trip google search later I found this blog post which talks about her experience in this store - Fiorella Gallery.  Here.  She links to the store's actual webpage, but I'll warn you it's weird and uptight folks may find it offensive.

After a late dinner of mediocre, overpriced pasta (we were so hungry, I didn't care that much that I could have made it better myself at home), we headed home to rest up for our 2nd full day.

It started with a bicycle tour around Sant Erasmo (using the hotel's free bike rental).

Dangerous stunt:  self shot while riding.  Don't tell Carol!  Her camera was fine.

Kerry hadn't ridden a bike in years, but as they say, it's like riding a bike.

In America my Ford Ranger looks small...

The local cemetery - beautiful fresh flowers everywhere

A goat

Burano from far away

and then a long vaparetto ride to Burano...

Burano from up close - like walking into a painting

The leaning tower of Burano - it will have have to do, as I'm not sure we'll make it to Pisa this year.

Walking down the street is like going through the home improvement store paint swatch section

Perfectly acceptable house color; wonder what HOA meetings here are like?

Feral hunting cats, classic 3-point tactic:  remain motionless until a bird lands within striking distance.

And then to Murano...

Glass garden

Murano is certainly odd.  Just loads of artistic glass shops; but they almost hate tourists.  You walk into a store and they just can't wait for you to break something.  I saw a glass trout that was going for 6000 euro.  We quickly made our way to a nice cafe for the WC, lunch, and prosseco.

I should time out to say that toilets in Venice are tricky.  When you're out all day, you have to plan bathroom stops with food or drinks (a viscous cycle), or pay the 1.50 to use the public WC.  

For dinner we headed back to Venice to find another restaurant and more walking in different neighborhoods.

Found chestnuts roasting on an open fire!  First time, they're like sweet potatoes, kinda.

The 11 pm vaparetto is nice and warm.

Well, that about wraps it up... we had a morning flight out the next day, so we had an early start to allow time for all the transfers between boats and buses.  It was a weekend to remember for the rest of our lives, and many travel lessons were learned.  Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Great house and canal pics. Loved the cat triangle pic. Didn't love the cuttlefish pic - that did not look good. Glad to hear/see how much fun you guys had there.