Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 9 - Venice

Several big events on or around June 9th. Elijah turned a mighty 6 on the 7th; Venice is our last port on this cruise; we booked our next cruise for January, 2009 to South America and Antarctica; PAC Tour's Elite Transcontinental leaves San Diego today to arrive in Savannah 17 days from now; and the Solo RAAMer's leave Oceanside, CA Sunday the 10th at 9:00 a.m. PT. Big Stuff.

If you ever come to Venice I hope you have the awesome experience of arriving by ship, a ship big enough to see over the tree tops and roof lines revealing the myriad, meandering canals of this city that was a major seat of power in the 9th century and has been welcoming tourists for at least 400 years.

Venice's major thoroughfares are canals with 400 bridges under which the gondoliers must duck. If you think urban parking is a problem, think about parking your own personal boat near your apartment! Navigating around Venice is by landmarks, not streets, or even addresses.

Getting around, other than by foot, is best accomplished on a vaporetto, or water bus, that carries about 100 people for about $9.00. Water taxis cost between $65-100, regardless of destination. Then there are the Gondolas. They are the equivalent of taking a horse-drawn carriage ride in NYC or Chicago. They run about $100-125 in the day time. Add 25% if you want to ride after 8:00 p.m. Add another $50.00 if you want to be serenaded.

There are as many pigeons in the squares as there are tourists! Vendors even sell little bags of corn for $1.30 so you can feed the pigeons. If you hold out your hand filled with corn, the pigeons will sit in your hand (or atop your head) to feed. I have a pix of a man in a wheel chair with probably 6 pigeons sitting on various parts of him feasting away. Of course with all those pigeons, ground and air born poop is abundant.

We spent time on St. Mark's Square Saturday afternoon--touring the Basilica, for which the square is named, and wandering the streets and alleys wide enough in places for only single file, two-way pedestrian traffic. Also on the Square is the Doge's Palace (Duke), the Correr Museum, the Campanile (dramatic bell tower) and the Clock Tower. The time is hammered out by two bronze men (Moors) with mallets. In the 17th century an unsuspecting roof-top worker was knocked to his death by the hammer-slinging bronze robot. Probably the first death attributable to a robot.

We have a full day, Sunday the 10th, to poke around Venice before an early to bed, early to rise on Monday the 11th departing Venice for Madrid at 7:50 a.m. (12:50 a.m. Chicago time). Then non-stop from Madrid to Chicago. Monday will be a day of endless sunlight for me as I'll land in Chicago and then board another plane for San Diego arriving there at 10:30 p.m. PT or 7:30 a.m. Tuesday Venice time. YIKES!! hope my black-out mask, ear plugs, and No Jet Lag homeopathics do their trick.

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