Friday, July 24, 2009

Venice-Water, Water Everywhere July 20-23

I could have snapped 5000 photos of Venice, and each would be as lovely as the next. Being in Venice is like being in a dream. You can't quite believe you're there. And it's definitely a place for romance. Next time, I'm bringing my honey.

There are no cars, buses or any other motorized vehicles in Venice. There are no roads -- only walks. I forget how many bridges they said there were, but it must be in the hundreds. Even people with baby strollers were having a hard time navigating through. Some of the streets are very narrow, but they will lead into wide plazas that are ringed with cafes, shops, and churches. Every canal is filled with boats, depending on the size of the canal. Small motorboats are the most popular -- and they serve as their trucks -- groceries brought in, garbage taken out, you name it -- they use a boat to do it.

Gondolas are where the tourists are. You would never have a problem finding any. Near St. Mark's Plaza, you will find a whole fleet of them. A gondola ride is 120 euros (check the exchange rate!) or you can go on a "serenade" at 6:30 or 7:30 with other people and it will only cost you 40 euros each. We did not do a gondola ride, but we were taken through the canals twice in water taxis, so I kind of know what it's like.

Our introduction to Venice was via waterbus through the Grand Canal, almost from the start to the end. We got off one stop before the end. We made acquaintance with a couple and their daughter from Portland, Oregon, who gave us some tips about Venice. We got off at the Academmie stop (one of the three bridges that span the Grand Canal).

This is our hotel, the Hotel American Dinesen, on the San Vio Canal. [Our room is in the white building on the left, 2nd floor, in the middle with the 3 windows]. What wonderful service they offer! We had upgraded to a superior canal view and it was well worth it. One of the clerks, Ronald, was particularly helpful. He was Philippino, but spoke fluent Italian and very good English. He kept calling us "Madame" which tickled me. He carried our bags to our rooms ("I'm the elevator," he said when we asked.) He got Sheila a bucket of ice (she was in seventh heaven). Answered all our questions with the utmost politeness and patience.

Anyway, we wandered around (map in hand) and saw a great deal of the city. St. Mark's and the Rialto Bridge were the two "musts" for me. Other than that, it was all gravy. I was surprised that the prices were more reasonable than many other places we went in Europe, particularly that of Switzerland (the most expensive, I think). Lots of little trinkets and plenty of kiosks to hit along the quays.

We left Venice at 5 a.m. on Thursday to catch a plane to London. We had to take a water taxi (105 euros) but the ride was fun and lasted 25 minutes. Alas, we had to say "Ciao" to Venice as it disappeared in the mist of early morning.

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