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Sailing Through History X-Venice, Italy Part II

Touring Venice, Going Home

Our first full day in Venice began with disembarking from the Emerald Princess. I have to say that in all the cruise disembarkations that I have participated in, this one was the most unusual. Our transportation to our hotel was included in the cruise package. After retrieving our luggage, we were ushered down the pier to a larger water taxi that would deliver us to the Bauer Hotel. I was very nervous watching the taxi driver load all of us (there were 15 or so in our group going to the hotel) and our luggage on to this boat. I caught my breath as I saw my suitcase being literally tossed into the rear of the boat, but I managed to relax when everything was loaded without incident. Soon we were off, floating along the canal trying to take in all the sights along the way in the 15 or so minutes that we traveled. Pulling up to another dock, our escort from Princess Cruises directed us off the boat and onto the dock where once again we retrieved our bags. Surprisingly, we would be traveling on foot a couple of blocks to the hotel. I took note to never again travel to Venice with more than two bags because you never knew when you might be called upon to carry them!

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Walking into the lobby of the Bauer Hotel was a relief. There was a large waiting room nearby for all of us to wait in until our rooms were ready. It was still quite early in the morning. The Bauer was very impressive. It felt in many ways like I had stepped back in time to the glory days of the Renaissance, marble floors and granite mixed with plush furniture, grand arches and an elegant lobby front desk. After not too long a wait, we were shown to our rooms, side by side and very large and spacious. The windows along the wall in the bedroom and bath opened to look out over a canal where I could see Gondoliers and their boats moving down the canal. It was just wonderful!

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We settled in to our room until time for lunch. Heading downstairs to the lobby, I decided to ask the doorman where was a nice inexpensive place to eat. He directed us to a lovely little café a few blocks from the hotel where we had some delicious Italian food, including some lasagna to die for! After lunch we walked down the narrow streets, bridges and alleyways, stopping to say hello to some locals who paused for photographs.

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Finally, we found ourselves in St. Marks Square. All I could find to say was “Wow”. All of the photos and video that I had seen of this part of Venice simply did not do it justice. The square was full of people and shops and restaurants. The Basilica di San Marco, commonly known as Saint Mark's Basilica was directly in front of us. The Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It is connected to the Doge's Palace which is also on the square. We walked around the square, looking in the expensive stores and taking photos before heading back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. Lying in bed later that night I could hear the Gondoliers singing outside our window. It was one of the loveliest sounds I have ever heard.

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The next morning we were up bright an early. Our morning started with a fantastic breakfast out on the hotel terrace, overlooking the Grand Canal before we headed out for the day. We had only one more day to see Venice so we needed to get started. With map in hand, we left the hotel and started our walking tour. Venice is very easy to see by walking, everything is fairly close by. My aim was to head toward the Rialto Bridge and take in a Gondola ride somewhere along the way. The gondola rides were very popular and there was often a long line to ride one. We finally found an empty gondola on our way to the Rialto Bridge, and we did a ‘share ride” with a couple from San Francisco. The gondola ride was an experience not to be missed. Both scenic and relaxing, it is a great way to get an overview of the city. Our gondolier was very friendly and talkative so we enjoyed our sail very much.

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After our ride on the canal, we arrived at the famous Rialto Bridge. Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is the true heart of Venice. The current structure was built in just three years, between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. It remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot until the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854. The bridge has three walkways: two along the outer balustrades, and a wider central walkway leading between two rows of small shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano glass, and other items. There is a large area of souvenir stands on one side of the bridge that has a “flea market” type atmosphere. We climbed the steps to the top of the bridge and looked out over the Grand Canal. It was a beautiful sunny spring day and the view was just amazing.

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Walking to the other side of the bridge we found a restaurant to have lunch alongside the Grand Canal. The food was delicious as expected and we spent some time at our sidewalk table drinking red wine and taking in the view. Heading back to the center of town, we stopped along the way at a convenience store to buy some wine and then we headed back to the hotel. Before packing up for the trip home the next day, Yolonda and I made another trip to Saint Mark’s Square. We walked around buying more souvenirs and took a stroll along the water front. There were people everywhere doing the same thing, the weather was just perfect. Once again I had to pinch myself to be sure I was not dreaming. “Here I am in Venice!” I thought to myself. It could not have been a more perfect day.

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Yolonda decided that pizza was a good choice for dinner, so we walked around to a nearby restaurant that actually had carry out. While we waited for our pie, we had a lovely conversation with a waiter who was a transplant from the USA. He told us about life in Venice and a number of things we need to see on a return trip. I still have his business card in my wallet, so I can look him up when I go back. The pizza and Italian wine was wonderful and the packing did not take quite as long as before. We would be leaving Venice in the morning for the long flight back to Atlanta and then Montgomery, Alabama. For the last time on this trip, I listened to the Gondoliers singing along the canal as I went to sleep.

Check out time came early. We had a 20 minute water taxi ride to the airport. In the hotel lobby, the hotel Manager, who I had spoken to once or twice approached me and asked “Signora, why do you look so sad?” I told him that I was sad about leaving Venice, that it had been a wonderful visit, but too short. “Well then, you must return” he said. Yes, he was right, I must return someday.

Ciao everyone! THE END!

Posted by Gerriv 13:51

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Comments

This brings back lots of memories of, not only Venice, but the whole three weeks of this wonderful trip: Rome; the South of France (Monaco, Florence, Cannes, Piza,etc., Greece (Athens, Mykonos, etc., etc., etc...Good job!

by Me...Mom.

Thanks Mom! It was such a wonderful trip that I remember every second of it. Thanks for sharing it with me! Glad I could do it justice in writing!

by Gerriv

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