ITALY AND SPAIN 2010

 

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

 

Trip Log 6.  Day 6.  First Full Day in Venezia

Monday October 18, 2010. St. Mark's, Doge's Palace, Grand Canal Tour

Yesterday, when I was waiting for Rocky (as it turned out) near the Rialto Bridge, I reached into my vest pocket, pulled out my camera, and What The? The button you push down to snap a picture (digital cameras are usually halfway down on the button to allow autofocus, then the rest of the way to snap the picture) is G-O-N-E! I feel in my pocket, and there's the button. Plus a spring and a tiny pin of some kind. I take out the spring and it magically sproings right out of my hand onto the walkway, which is made up of irregular pavers, each surrounded by a groove. I spot the spring, try to grab it, but it sproings away and I never find it again.

Later Sharon figured out that if you use the point of a safety pin, you can insert it in the hole in the middle of where the button used to be, you can take a picture. Good news: you can still take a picture. Bad news: you have to carry a safety pin around, or find a paper clip or something.

So all of this day, Monday, October 18, I'm shooting pictures with my camera and a safety pin. Sweet!

In addition, yesterday when Rocky delivered us to our apartment, I looked it all over, and noticed that there was no washer and dryer, something I was positive was promised on the internet. I asked about him about WiFi, which was also promised, and he shakes his head, and says it doesn't reach all he way up here.

I'm very unhappy, but he's not the one in charge of the website or the conveniences in the aparment. I told him to scold the owner for saying the apartment has things that it doesn't. I made it clear I'm not upset with HIM, as he had done us a gigantic favor by meeting us and getting us here. [When I unpack and get out my laptop, guess what! There is WiFi, but I don't know if it's the apartment's WiFi that DOES reach here, or is a neighbor's that is not passworded.

Don't care.

The WiFi is called Alice 6. There is also an Alice 2 and Alice 3, but they are both passworded. I made up all three numbers, but you get the idea.

So the first thing I do is double check the apartment's website, and guess what, again! It doesn't mention either WiFi or washer/dryer.

"I blame myself" - Steve Martin.]

Now, on with today's report ---------------------------

Jerry and Shirley are up early, and catch a wedding procession down on the bridge right under our apartment. {We are never sure whether this is an actual wedding or just an advertisement picture as it is so early in the morning for a wedding. Who cares? It makes for a beautiful picture.}

Then Jerry asks Shirley to lean out the window just a LITTLE BIT FURTHER, to get a good picture.

J and S tell us to stay here till they make it down to the bridge, and then we get a nice shot of THEM on the bridge.

They come back up to the apartment, and it's a little before 10 am. We're heading out. The sun is shining, and it's nippy but not freezing cold. I'm wearing a jacket, Sharon's got her jacket, is looking good. Jerry and Shirley are walking down from our floor, Floor 2 to the ground floor, Floor 0 while we take the elevator.

Their first step going down is so close to the elevator that if you're not paying CLOSE attention, you'll misstep and stumble down.

The tide is a factor in Venice, because it comes up through the drains and spills over onto the sidewalks, or in our case, it simply spills up directly onto the sidewalk.

We're off for St. Mark's Square, or San Marco's Piazza this morning. We will go to the Rialto vaporetto stop, and take it to San Marco. As we cross the first bridge on the way, I notice a single boat in the canal. Great sense of photo opportunities everywhere.

Around a couple of corners and we're to a small piazza that we noticed earlier, where two or three umbrellas create a multi-colored ball, mounted high on the corner of a building, like a street light.

We make it to the vaporetto stop, hop on the first boat, and off we go. Great scenes as we ride the boat to our destination.

The Grand Canal

Rialto Bridge

You see spectacularly old buildings and statues on the St. Mark's Square, along with some very good-looking foreigners.

St. Mark's Basilica is high on Sharon's list and in we go, after waiting in a long line that is formed on a series of end-to-end picnic-table-like pieces, to keep the visitors out of the water of extremely high tides, or in our case just a wet walk from the high tide. {That picture of me in front of four red statues is said to be 4 Sarisans who were trying to break into the basilica and were turned into stone. The stone is of a type that comes from an area in Israel.}

Sharon wants to see the pala d'oro inside, and we each put up 2E. It's this fantastic 40 square meter(?) panel with thousands of pearls and precious gems on it. All the rest of the panel is gold so it is beautiful to say the least.

One of us, I'm not saying who, sneaked a couple of photos inside St. Mark's Basilica.

Great pattern for Shirley to quilt.

Looking up at the inside of a dome.

Exiting St. Mark's we are hungry, and find a place that serves sandwiches and pizza. We make our choice, and take our food out to where some of the aforementioned "picnic-table-like" things are stacked.

The pigeons are glad we came.

Raised sidewalk components in background.

Three serious students.

Jerry dividing up the bread.

The pigeons love Jer too.

OK, one last hat topper.

The last one is off after Bob runs out of food.

We've already seen St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Basilica and are knocking out the top attractions on my agenda for us.

The San Marco Plus Museum Pass is just the ticket to see several locations for one ticket, and we purchase four of them. First on the docket is the Doge's Palace.

This is a pretty spectaular place in anybody's world. We visit the prison and go over the Bridge, getting views of the canal from tiny windows on the "Bridge of Sighs". {It is said that in transferring prisoners from one prison to another, the only view of the outside they got was from these tiny windows so they would "sigh" to see the outside world. We also saw a room in which they had pictures prisoners had scratched or written on the walls of their cells. Some pretty impressive drawings that men who had nothing else to do would draw.}

Watch those fingers Sharon!

Jer, resting on the steps of the Doge's Palace.

The arched ceiling over a saircase in the Doge's Palace.

Looking from the Bridge of Sighs, towards the grand canal. The blue-grey sheeting on the left and the right are temporarily in place to allow refurbishing of the bridge.

We are pooped from walking and decide to use our 72 hour vaparetto passes to do a Grand Canal Tour. We are on the boat and relaxing by 4 pm.

Here are some more scenes from our Grand Canal ride.

A private gondola ride.

There are four or five "ferries" crossing the grand canal, each sort of in between two bridges. It costs 100 E to hire a gondola for a half-hour or so ride. It costs 1 E (yes, one!) to take one across the canal, used as a ferry. Guess which one we used. I know, I know, where's the romance. It's in the 99 E Sharon gets to spend in place of hiring the gondola.

Advertising a modern art festival.

Looking across at San Giorgio, where we plan to visit, take an elevator to the top, and have a grand look across the Grand Canal, at a grand city soon.

The Bridge of Sighs, temporarily partially covered for revitalization.

Ever-vigilant Sharon gets a European Starling on a TV antenna during the trip.

To our surprise, the vaporetto does not turn around when it gets to the Tronchetto stop, but continues around the outside of the island, till it gets to St. Mark's square the long way. It's a pretty cool ride, but we are done with the boats for a while, and rather than ride it around to the Rialto Bridge, we elect to get off and walk to our apartment - about ten or twelve minutes. {Great Jerry with unerring sense of direction finds us all sorts of ways to get to places and back to our apartment. It is surprising how close we are to everything.}

It's groceries we need, in keeping with our decision not to stay in hotels but rather apartments, eating breakfast and dinner IN. We get rather vague directions to the "SOOVEE" supermarket and take off in that direction. We have to stop and ask every few minutes because we feel lost. Sometimes we ARE lost, but usually we are on track but misled by "it's just down there", thinking foolishly that it is going to be just down there. Well it ain't just down there, it's about a quarter mile, but we finally find it and load up. It's offically the SU.VE supermarket.

We each carry a quarter of the total load, and Jerry navigates us our way straight back to the apartment using a combination of his Garmin GPS and a map that we have. Way to go Jer!

Shirley says to Sharon that if Sharon cooks, Shirley and Jerry will clean up. That's mostly so Shirley can wash her hair, and so it is written. It's a quarter till 8 pm.

While they are preparing dinner and washing hair, I go downstairs to a camera shop not far away. The owner is a young, good-looking Italian guy running his extremely packed-with-camera-boxes and other goods. I describe my broken camera to Marco, and ask what he has that's similar. He says Sony stopped making anything like that, but has a model WX1 that's what I need.

I ask how much, and he says he has the cheapest price in Italy. Formerly 295, now "only" 229 euros, or about $330. I ask him if he'll sell it for $300 and he says, he can't. [We later learn that merchants near the Rialto Bridge have perfected the art of non-negotiation, and I can believe it]. I say I'll think about it and maybe be back tomorrow.

Then I wander around, looking at shops, and come upon about fifty people queing up to ride gondolas. Gondolas cost 100 E for a ride, and an extra 110 E or so for a serenade.

Back at the apartment, we have dinner, then I check on the internet and learn that the camera of interest is $279 from Sony directly, and as low as $239 from trustworthy websites and $204 from lesser known ones. Compared with $330 from Marco. Polo.

Marco also has a cheaper model for 99 euros, or $140.

Sharon and I discuss which one, if either, to get. Maybe I can get a paper clip rather than the current safety pin and that will be acceptable.

We hear a great bass voice coming from below, run to the window, and it's the fifty gondola riders I saw loading. Two of them have accordion players accompanying singers. It's wonderful, and I get some video.

And then it's good night again from wonderful, vivacious Venice, Venezia in Italiano.

 

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