Tom and Linda's 2011 Europe Trip

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Hotel reservations made from Athens a couple days ago, we flew from Greek transit strike to Italian disorganization. Decided to start at the north of Italy, visit the places we didn't see in 2007, and make our way back to Rome.



Landing in Venice

No, you don't really land IN Venice. There's a boat taxi to get you there from the airport. It wasn't supposed to be dark when we got here, but all those transit delays... At least there was still a boat available.



Floating dock taxi-boat-bus-stop, through boat-taxi window


Arriving in Venice at night



Fourteen hours after leaving Athens, we found our Venice hotel.


A walk up funky stairs to our funky corner door,


To an interesting room. Bathroom just inside the door, steps up to the bed, and a few more steps up to...
nothing. Like they squeezed a paying room into a staircase.



Took a few errors to figure out you have to leave your key in the slot at the door or the lights won't work.


Breakfast at the hotel. Cold food, but real coffee and all you want of it. Yes, that's a window, not a TV!


And look! That's us, in Venice!


Venice is sinking. Floors that used to be dry are now wet, and the people move to an upper story, bequeathing their erstwhile grand front entrances to the boathouses.

We spent our first day just soaking up Venice. We strolled about, got lost and found and lost again. A good way to be here.






Our hotel is close to the Piazza San Marco, so we went to see it in daylight, having passed through it last night. The iconic bell tower appeared in a Doctor Who episode I'll have to watch again. Cafés around the square employ competing "classical" combos. It's mostly the dead white guys, but we heard "Roll Out the Barrel" and something from "Carmen" and some classic rock bits all at the same time.

San Marco Piazza

To the left is the long arcade along the north side of the Piazza, the buildings on this side are known as the Procuratie Vecchie, the old procuracies, formerly the homes and offices of the Procurators of St. Mark, high officers of state in the days of the republic of Venice.To the right are the buildings known as the Procuratie Nuove (new procuracies). The arcade is lined with shops and restaurants at ground level, with offices above.

At the far end is Saint Mark's Basilica with its tower. Behind the tower, in front of the church and off to the right is the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, named after the two marble lions presented by Doge Alvise Mocenigo in 1722. The Piazetta opens onto the Grand Canal.



Saint Mark's Basilica, with some repair going on. The upper level of mosaics in the lunettes of the lateral ogee arches has scenes from the Life of Christ (all post-Renaissance replacements) culminating in a 19th-century replacement Last Judgment lower down over the main portal.

Mosaics with scenes showing the history of the relics of Saint Mark from right to left fill the lunettes of the lateral portals; the first on the left is the only one on the façade still surviving from the 13th century.



The four horses over the door of the Basilica were such a powerful symbol of the power of Venice that the Genoese in 1379 said that there could be no peace between the two cities until these horses had been bridled. Four hundred years later Napoleon, after he had conquered Venice, had them taken down and shipped to Paris.


The winged lion is the symbol of Saint Mark and of Venice.



The Campanile, Saint Mark's belltower, dominates the square.

The tower in Pioneer Square in Seattle was modeled on this one, and I expect others around the world as well.


The winged Lion and the Zodiac.





Venice is a fish, the Grand Canal its digestive system.



Many marbles, carvings and mosaics of the Basilica.


CocoCola pigeons ad playing above a bar door.


Shopping in Venice is an adventure.

Just window-shopping for us. We'd have to carry for the rest of the trip.

Scissors and watches and knives, toys, games, glass, jewelry, famous names in fashion. And masks. Some with constumes.









Hats! And pressure-blocks for felt-making!




The Rialto Bridge





We ate street pizza standing by the Rialto bridge and washed it down with gelato.





Alleys, dry and wet.





All shops on the ground floor, living above.





Curly roof reflections in the water, laundry lines in the air.


Fancy shops on the ground floor, run-down apartments above.


Free hugs!








In the middle of the day the Piazza gets busier. The cruise ships and day trippers are in.






The Piazetta Lioncini




The Academy Bridge (Ponte dell'Accademia)


Found our gondolier here. This is one thing you HAVE to do in Venice!



He sang and whistled the whole trip, although it was a short one. OK with us. We got a bit a Grand Canal and some time in the little Rios as well. We'll get to see the whole Grand Canal from the water tomorrow on our way to the train station.







Street musician.




Seaweed grows on the canal steps.



Down this ramp we discovered a free art installation.


Arab art.
Cowboy Code in a wall hanging.
Sparse, huge pen & ink - rods, ropes, chains and straps trying to hold a tidal wave.
High-end real estate postings of bombed houses.









Roof gardens! And ironwork.



Sit-down dinner in a café near the Rialto Bridge. The couple next to us were from outside Toronto, here until Thursday then leaving on a Mediterranean cruise. Nice folks, headed for the opera after dinner.

We had a nice stroll back through night-time Venice.




Famous Venetian / Murano glass.


On our way back to bed, we sat for a while in the almost-deserted Piazza San Marco and listened to the sole remaining orchestra, watched a pro photographer work, and some guys trying to sell light-up rubber-band-launched helicopter things, then went back to our nice quiet room.



After breakfast and packing, we checked out then left our packs at the desk at the Hotel San Moisé. Went for a last little stroll to the Piazza where one orchestra was just starting up. Bit of a wander about, then back for the packs and finding our way out.



Checking the routes, we bought our €6.50 bighetti to the Ferrovia. The Vaproetto came a few minutes later.

We deposited our bags near the exit and sat in the open air up front for our last trip through Venezia. Interesting but rotting old lady, once the queen of an empire.





You can tell the locals - they stand for their commute.








Floating dock at the train station.


Worked the ticket machine for two passages to Padova. I think I accidentally got us both a 50% off senior fare.


The conductor didn't seem to want to mess with the language barrier, and let it go. And the train carries us on.

Our Italian sojourn begins. We've got 10 days to make it back down to Rome for our flight home. No reservations, only a few ideas of where we might want to go.


Right now, it's Padua, then Verona.


1 Getting There
6 Olympia
11 Ephesus
16 The Cinque Terre
2 Sorrento
7 Santorini (Thira)
12 Athens
17 Pisa & Sienna
3 Pompeii & Herculanium
8 Istanbul
13 Venezia
18 Tuscany
4 The Amalfi Coast
9 Varna & Odessa
14 Padua & Verona
19 Montepulciano
5 Sci-Am Cruise
10 Yalta
15 Firenze
20 Rome & Home

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