After a day at sea where we spent the day relaxing with facials at the spa and lots of time at the stupid Popeye slot machines (come on spinach can!!), we woke early on our final day coming into port in Venice. B had trouble sleeping the whole cruise, no thanks to my own snoring issues, so she was up early and poked her head out the curtains and happened to see this!
We got to witness the gorgeous sunrise over the Venetian skyline right from our room. Eventually, we threw on jackets and shoes and went up to the 4th deck (from our room on the 3rd) and took some more pictures. It was hard to believe we were pulling into the final moments of our adventure together! But, we arranged it so we still had the whole day and one night in Venice to do some exploring.
By this time, my suitcase had to be at least 70 pounds, plus there was another smaller bag with a pull-handle, my backpack (at about 25 pounds) and my purse (compact but heavy with art pens and paper jammed in there with a bunch of Euro coinage. B's load wasn't much better, so we were dreading the transition from the ship to our hotel near the Piazzale Roma. I actually did use some logic to pick a hotel on the northern side of the city, but there isn't a button on Travelocity that shows you how many bridges (i.e. flights of stairs) you'll have to traverse to get somewhere. We got a taxi from the port terminal to the Piazzale Roma--only 20 euro for a two-minute ride, but it was worth it to have someone schlep the bags. Then, we got up over the first bridge (of two) that had ramps built in for easier transit. We got to the second bridge and just sort of stood there looking at each other. There was a man hanging around by the trashcan nearby who eagerly approached us and then helped us over with everything in one trip. Another 20 euro...again, probably worth it. We got checked in at the Hotel Canal and were delighted to find there was no elevator in this little three-star delight. Before dealing with that bit of joy, we left our bags in their care (except for my heavy-ass backpack, that I decided I needed to carry) and headed out for a trek about the city.
It was actually more beautiful than I remember, having been here last in about 2004. I picked up a map at one of the zillion trinket stores near the hotel and we started on the path to St. Mark's Square via the Rialto bridge. We took tons of pictures along the way just capturing the skyline on a grander scale and smaller, more micro scale looks at texture and design. I'll do some other posts with more of those later on.
The goal was to get through the crowds to St. Marks...and we did!
It was a gorgeous sunny day--and a Saturday--so we joined massive crowds and lots of pigeons in the square. While I stayed outside to sketch a bit, B went to see the interior of the basilica.
This was only one of the short sitting breaks we took that day aside from lunch. A few days later, B's phone reported that we actually walked ten miles that day!
This is the sketch I did that morning.
After some yummy pizza for lunch, we decided to go into the Doge's Palace. For all the times I visited in Venice when I lived in Italy, I'd never been there before. Beautiful gothic architecture and massive amounts of art in the museum...a great tour. We passed through the Bridge of Sighs, as it's known, and actually got to walk around the prison area. Creepy...especially since it was Halloween.
Just one pic of a typically ornate ceiling. Sadly, I didn't write down the details or artists...guess I'll have to go do some research during my Art History class next semester!
There were a few rooms displaying the contents of the armory with massive swords, helmets and other tools of death and destruction.
This is a view from one of the upper floor windows.
Out in the small piazza, the marble statues and details were just beautiful.
Another big part of our day was my paper hunt. Italy is known for hand-marbled and decorated paper and I'm a paper hoarder, so, of course, when I saw this paper shop (the first of many), I had to stop. The shopkeeper used the paper to cover books, boxes, pencils, and all sorts of things. He had full-sized sheets, too, but more exciting at this shop was the scrap box. I showed him my art journal, with the collage and painting in it, and explained that I could use small pieces if he had some. He let me dig through his box of scraps and gave me a huge bag to fill before measuring it out and selling it by the ounce. He gave me a good deal with all the variety of good stuff I jammed in there. B was tremendously patient and let me have my little paper-fest! I think I need to do a whole other post about the paper and all the goodness I found in various shops as we wandered, so saving all the rest of that story.
We went over the Ponte dell'Accademia, traversing the Grand Canal, as part of our venture back to our hotel up in the Santa Croce area. The view of the canal from that bridge is one of my favorite from the whole trip. I promised B that I'd draw it a bit the next day, once I was left solo.
Once we got back to the hotel, after walking what was apparently 10 miles, we still got the opportunity to carry our bags up a nice narrow flight of steps to our "room with a canal view" and three-star luxury. If you can't sense my sarcasm, I do not recommend this hotel and will send comments to Travelocity as such. The only redeeming quality, in my mind, was that you could smell bread baking in the morning and the croissants were delicious. If you are a troubled sleeper, though, the smell of bread and yeast at 0430 may not be a good one. haaaaaaa
Here's a happy girl from Venice to leave this post on a positive note...