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Posts tagged ‘Venice’

Insights from Italy—Day 15: Back on terra firma

Venice at first light

This morning we pulled into Venice just as the sun was rising. It was hard to resist getting just a few more pictures of the beautiful city as we cruised by the houses and palaces, cathedrals and squares.

Venice has a magical feel to it, something that touches me deep within. Seeing this unique city has been my desire for some time and our original goal as we looked forward to celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary. It’s hard to put into words why it touches me so deeply. Maybe I have connections to it from another lifetime. Maybe I’ll write a book with Venice as the setting. Who knows?

For me, Venice has been one of the highlights of our trip. I’ll remember our time here with fondness and highly recommend it to anyone.

Having just crossed the long bridge to the mainland on our way to Verona, I can officially say we’re back on solid ground, but as I look across the expanse of water, I can still see Venice, its towers illuminated by the morning sun and I bid this jewel of a city farewell with a promise to return.

Insights from Italy (and beyond)—Day 14: Another day at Sea

Today is our last day of the cruise. We dock in Venice tomorrow morning. It’s been a great week. We’ve  seen and done so much; its seems longer and yet the week has flown by.

 

Celebrating 25 years

 

Last night we celebrated our anniversary (again) by going to one of the specialty restaurants on the ship. La Cuisine, an Italian restaurant was charming and the food was delicious. After eating Italian food, I now love pasta. I’ll have to learn to make it the way they do!

Ron is a romantic at heart.  At dinner, he bought me a red rose and then during dessert, he took out a piece of paper on which he’d written out the wedding vows from my second book, A Song of the Heart. We read them to each other and then made a toast. Funny, it felt more significant and meaningful than our vows 25 years ago (can’t even remember what we said back then)

After dinner we enjoyed an hilarious vaudeville act at the theatre. We closed off the evening once again by relaxing in the hot tub.

The sea has been rough. Last night we left the balcony door open and listened to the waves splashing. The boat rocked me to sleep. I love that feeling.

The  cruise has been wonderful. the food is delicious and plentiful! The service is great. Other than super slow internet service that we had to pay 40 cents a minute for, we can chalk this up to a fun, successful and memorable week.

 

Chocolate Pharaoh

 

The chocolate buffet I missed turned out to be a zoo (Ron’s words) but he brought me a plate of delicious bites and has some pictures of the incredible sculptures.

 

Leaning tower of chocolate

 

Oh, yes, there was one other mix-up on our cruise. It was quite funny. When we first checked in, they told us we were registered with a tour group. We told them we weren’t, but the girl at the desk seemed to believe the computer rather than us and informed us that ‘our’ group was meeting for a welcome party on the second day of the cruise. We decided to check it out – more out of curiosity than anything else. It was a formal event, so we dressed up, but still felt out of place when we saw the other couples who were there. As we arrived, we were immediately served drinks and appetizers. We heard a couple near us speaking to one another in French and didn’t think too much of it until we realized that everyone was speaking french and not a word of English could be heard. No one seemed to pay any attention to us, but we didn’t want to have to try and explain why we were there so we left as inconspicuously as we could and barely suppressed our laughter as we exited the lounge. We’d enjoyed the drinks and the appetizers were really good, but we never did find out  how we got put in with a French tour group.

Insights from Italy―Day 8: Cruising!!

Sipping mojitos

In my mind, I hear Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin. I like his version of the song best. “I love it when we’re cruisin together.” I could get used to this life! As we leave Venice, the sun is setting and we have a magnificent view from the back of the boat. We’re sipping Mohitas, watching the Grand Canal, the tower in St. Marks Square and the Doge’s Palace slip away. From our vantage point high up on top deck of the ship, we notice a couple of towers are leaning, evidence that the city is indeed sinking. I hope engineering technology can fix the problem; it’s sad to think this gem may not be around for future generations to enjoy.

Leaning tower

St. Marks Square and Doge's Palace

Our stateroom is nice―a king-size bed, sitting area and private balcony. We’re port side, so we’ll have a nice view of the Croatian coast as we approach Dubrovnik tomorrow.

Our first visit to Venice was surreal. In a city with as many tourists as residents, we felt right at home. Most people we encountered spoke English and were very helpful. Getting around in a city without cars was easy and maybe part of the reason I enjoyed our stay so much. Cars whizzing down narrow streets, pedestrians having no right of way except at light-controlled intersections (and even then motorcycles will scoot right by if they can) makes navigating Italian cities a little stressful to say the least.

In Venice, people stroll. Very few seem to be in a hurry. There are a lot―a lot!―of dogs here. Most are the cute, small breeds, but we’ve seen some big dogs as well.

We sat at an outdoor cafe for lunch. It was fun to watch people pass and listen to the variety of different languages being spoken. I like Italian. It sounds romantic, no matter what’s being said. A simple red house in North America is Casa Rosa here…how pretty. Please is per favorè. Even a busy train station sounds appealing when its a stazionè del tranō. It has a rhythmic elegance to it. Then there’s the fun, playful sounding words like scuzi (skoozie) for excuse me and ciao (chow) for hi, then repeated two or three times (ciao, ciao, ciao) for bye.

Anyway, we said ciao to Italy for a week and we’re off to see three more countries. We’re thoroughly enjoying our time here, the wonderful new experiences and of course our time together celebrating our anniversary. Life is good!

Enjoying one of the ships many restaurants

Venice from the ship

Sunset over Venice

Silhouette

Insights from Italy―Day 7: Exploring Venice

Ron at the Basilica, St. Mark's Sq.

I’m sitting on an ancient-looking Victorian settee on the second floor common area of our hotel. The sun has tried in vain to shine all day, but for a few sparse moments here and there, it has been unsuccessful. The damp weather doesn’t discourage most of the tourists and we certainly haven’t been put off by it. Venice in any weather is a treasure chest and an umbrella only obscures the view of the magnificent buildings, the high balconies still bursting with colorful blossoms, and the decorative array of wrought iron hugging nearly every window. Even the humblest of dwellings is fit for the artist’s brush; the pealing plaster, exposed brick and colorful shutters are picturesque. Then there are the statues, carvings, columns, balustrades (those heavy railings made of wood or stone), not to mention the marble façades of the churches, towers and palaces—so much to see looking up!

St. Mark's Square

Rialto Bridge

Did I mention I love this place? Standing in front of the Basilica in St. Marks Square this morning, we marveled at how many varieties of marble are in the columns—some veined, some speckled, some cloudy—from green/gold to purple/grey to golden brown.

This piazza is what I had envisioned when I dreamt of coming to Venice. I’d seen pictures, I guess, of the popular tourist destination. When we began to make plans to come here, I realized that by imagining myself here, part of me had gone ahead and arriving in person was like meeting myself, finding myself, reconnecting with that part of me that isn’t limited by ‘what is’ but rather lives by ‘what if.’

Grand Canal

I enjoyed the square while Ron ascended the tower to get some pictures. I was happy just to sit, watching the people, smiling at the pigeons (hundreds of them descending on anyone with a handful of crumbs),

Pigeons landing on me

wondering at the plethora of seemingly mindless tour groups held together by remote earpieces listening to a guide tell them where to look and when to walk. I decided that’s not how I want to see the world. Despite the wealth of intriguing facts imparted by the knowledgeable guide, I’d just as soon piece the story together myself by what I’ve read or overheard, letting my imagination fill in the blanks—and be free to gaze at what ever my eyes are drawn to. I see the curious, bold pigeons in the squares, the rat that scurries down the street in front of us at night, the Italian woman discarding her wash-water down the narrow walkway outside her front door. I like the story I hear from the white-haired painter in Realto Market. As he proudly shows us his work, he tells us he just turned 64 yesterday and he’s been painting all his life. He shows us a faded newspaper clipping—a picture of himself taken 30 years earlier when he’d received an award for his work. We bought one of his paintings.

Front door?

Insights from Italy―Day 6: Venice!!

Restaurant overlooking one of the canals/Venice at night

It’s been a long day, but with Venice as our final destination we pressed on. We said our good-byes to Sherry and Riccardo and bid La Selva farewell, promising to return. Next time it will have to be at least a week—so much to see and do.

Our little car got us to Florence and there we dropped it off to continue our journey by train. But before we left, we saw some of the sights Florence has to offer.

Ron and Jeane in Florence

Ponte Vecchio (shopping bridge in Florence)

Another Cathedral

I have to admit, I was not in the best of moods. Too many people, old stone buildings that all look the same after a while, and the feeling of being dragged around on a leash (not Ron’s fault, we just planned too many things and didn’t allow enough time each day to just ‘be’—it’s taken it’s tole on me, physically and emotionally, and I had a bit of a meltdown. Maybe I just needed to vent. Whatever it was, I feel better now. It was good to sit back on the train and just watch the scenery as we passed by. And as soon as we crossed the water into Venice,  I came to life. The city has such an energy; we could both feel it.

Getting to our hotel was interesting. Yes, we could have taken a water taxi, which would have dropped us 100 feet from our hotel, but opted for the water bus, or vaporetto, instead. It’s Venice’s version of public transit and many tourists use it, luggage and all. We bought a 36 hour pass and plan to see more of the city that way tomorrow. We naively took the #2 North instead of South, so instead of going down the Grand Canal we skirted around the whole city, stopping at every stop. When we got to the end of the line, we had to get off or go back where we’d come from, so we set off in search of our hotel.

It turned out to be a ten or fifteen minute walk and not difficult pulling our wheeled luggage. We are in a quaint little hotel that overlooks a square called Santa Maria Formossa with a church and several open air restaurants.

I love it here! After a light supper with a glass of wine, we went exploring. With the exception of a few wider ones, the streets here (if you can call them that) are as wide as my arms reach. All are well lit (it was dark already when we arrived) and even after nine at night, some shops are open. Small bridges cross the canals and connect the maze of streets and alleys, campos and piazzas (not sure what the difference is).

Campiello Santa Maria Formosa, where our hotel was located/Venice square, alive at night

Well, it’s late now and I’m ready to sleep. Tomorrow is another day and I can’t wait to see this amazing city in the daylight.

Buona Notte (good night)

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