Saturday, April 2, 2016

Day Five and Six of Sabbatical -- Venice!

We started out fairly early on Friday morning and headed to the train station. First, we made a stop at St. James Episcopal Church's Office -- and got to see the Rector and the Office Staff -- what a wonderful group of people!

We headed out on the train -- we went instead of the national railway system, which we used when we went to Lucca and Pisa. It is quite a different experience! About the same price but much more comfortable. The scenery going out to Venice from Florence was breathtakingly beautiful! Deb and I exclaimed at various times -- at the same time -- Wow -- that's beautiful! We couldn't really take pictures through the train window (they look blurry), but here's a picture of MIke on the train:

We got off the train and walked across the bridge, turned right, and voila! There we were at our hotel -- Antiche Figure. Our host behind the desk, Johnny, was very helpful. Two of the three of our rooms were ready, so we put bags in the two rooms, washed up a bit and headed out.

We very much LOVED walking through the streets of Venice!

Johnny had recommended a restaurant-- Trattoria Povoledo, which is back across the bridge but instead of going left to go to the train station we turned right. We sat out on the terrace with a view of one of the canals -- beautiful!

We then took off walking and went to the Rialto Bridge -- parts of it were closed off, but it was fun to see it. 

Other pictures I took along the way:

I loved walking past (and/or over) all the bridges, seeing the various canals and houses. At one point there was a lavendar store we passed by where everything in the store was purple. Donna, Deb and I went in -- I left a few seconds later -- the scent of lavendar -- natural and "fake" -- was overwhelming.

We kept on walking, and of course I found a church to stop and pray in -- Parrocchia S.S. Salvatore, Chiesa Rettoriale di S. Giuliano (S. Zulian). They had real candles to light in this place -- I said some prayers, lit the candle, said more prayers. There is much on my heart lately.

More walking, more beautiful (or interesting!) homes and canals -- and then -- voila! St. Mark's Square! I kept running the scenes filmed there for the Indiana Jones movie in my head. 

We walked around a bit, found place to sit and listen to music. We sat down at Florian and had lovely (and expensive!) things to drink. I had hot chocolate, which apparently I didn't drink correctly (I found out later). Oh well.  Here are a few pictures of our time there

What was really fun was that there were two groups playing music across the square from each other -- they took "turns". Here's our group:

We continued on a long walk in and around St. Mark's Square, which was SO crowded! We did find the Bridge of Sighs:
When we finally found a public bathroom (which cost 1.5 Euros per person to use), we were happy (not the expense but the bathroom). We discovered a map of the WCs in the area, and a guide to correct hygiene:

We stopped to look at a few things after our bathroom break and given the hour and how far we had walked (and were far away from the hotel), we decided to take a water taxi home. We LOVED it -- we went through a small canal and the grand canal -- Mike loved being up in the front! Here are some pictures from our water taxi experience:
We ended up back in the hotel, and into all our rooms. We freshened up a bit and sat outside -- right on the grand canal -- people watching and watching the gondaliers working. 

We headed out to dinner at Osteria Trefanti. The food was FANTASTIC, the wait staff perfect! The cheese cake was made by the chef's mother -- to die for. We had a wonderful, delicious evening!

We headed out of there at 9 expecting to be able to have an evening gondola ride, but because it was cold out they all closed up shop early! We walked for a long time to try to find them, but they were all closed up. Here's a nice night-time photo from Donna's room, though.

We headed back and some of us decided to sit outside and watch the boats on the canal until it was too cold to stay out there.

That day I walked 15, 394 steps -- 5.92 miles. I think that 2 hour train ride and the water taxi back to the hotel knocked off some steps for me!

On Saturday we woke up to a beautiful day -- it was a bit noisy with the windows open last night, but it was a nice evening and sleep nonetheless. There was a protest that was starting at the train station:
We had a very lovely breakfast at the hotel and then headed out on a prearranged Murano Glass Factory Tour set up by Johnny the day before. We were taken by water taxi to the B. F. Signoretti Murano Glass Factory where Emanuel met us and took us on a tour.

We loved seeing various forms of glass being made:

We then went on a tour of the factory where we were able to see various pieces for sale. Beautiful items!

We went back via water taxi to St. Mark's Square.

We had pizza at Da Mamo -- good pizza!

Then -- what Donna had been waiting for -- the gondola ride! We got an hour ride along part of the grand canal but really on the smaller canals. Federico -- our gondalier -- was very sweet. Here are some of the pictures from the gondola:

Saw Marco Polo's home:

The rest of the day was spent walking around Venice, eating gelato and people watching. We caught the 7pm train back to Florence. We bought sandwiches at a little shop near the train station to eat on the train on the way home. It was a quiet and pretty quick trip, arriving at the train station there at about 9:00. 

It has been a beautiful 2 days in Venice!

A few more scenes from Venice

Steps I walked this day: 14,592. 5.62 miles. That 2 hour train ride cut into my steps today!

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