Things I have learned in the last week:
* Venice could be renamed as the island of cats and dogs, It has plently of both
* Maps are mostly useless
* Although Venice is no longer sinking (more about that later) you could be forgiven for thinking so at high-tide when it is raining.
* Gumboots are a very useful wardrobe item and it would apear that most Venitians own a pair. However, they go by the slightly more posh name of high-tide boots and come with a much more posh price tag.
And now a challenge:
See how many times you find a Lion in our photos, don't count the same lion in different photos though. Venices emblem is a lion and they are everywhere! Got it? Right and on with the adventure!
For the first time in the last 3 trips away on Easy Jet, we managed to get to our destination without any problems. (although it was a close call when the train that was taking us to Gatwick stopped just outside of the Gatwick area due to a Power Outage!) We were both quite surprised. We found the correct bus, brought tickets, and found our hotel with a minimum of trouble. We had a quick dinner at the first resturant we saw after we left our hotel that was still open.
The following day we went on a walk-about. We had no idea what direction we were walking in or where we would end up. eventually our feet led us to the San Marco Piazza which was on our to do list anyway. All in all our "walk-about" lasted about five hours. We finally pulled the map out when we decided it was time to go home, only to get lost even further and end up taking twice as long to get home. When we (Amber) eventually got the map sorted out she decided to take us the "back way" home and we discovered that about 5 buildings down from us was a Prison (we think, it was big and scary looking with barbed wire on the brick fence that surrounded it, not too mention it was attached to a police station and the 'carpark' was a marina full of Police boats). This is not to say we were staying in a dodgy part of Venice or anything; we didn't really see ANY dodgy parts of Venice. It was possible to do with space though. . .Anyway, the next day we went back to San Marco Piazza (getting lost several times on the way - see 'what we have learned re: maps')
Note to Poppa Lids: Shelley would like a refund as Amber's GPS unit did not come with a Venice update!!
Anyway, behold San Marco Piazza:
It's even bigger than it looks.
As you can see by these photos, it also floods a wee bit when it rains during high-tide. Amber had to reassure me that we were quite safe and Venice wasn't going to sink while we were still on it! Actually according to our guide books, Venice is no longer sinking at all. There have been strict speed limitations put on all traffic (boat) within the city and this means that there is less waves created which means less sinkage. The waves were the main contributing factor to the detereoration of the bulidings.
And on to the pretty buildings
This was the Doge's Palace. It was the official residence of the 120 Doge's who ruled Venice from 697-1797. The Doge was an elected leader who was elected for life and when he died, his family would come in and remove his personal effects ready for the next one to move in. This means that not a lot of like 'furniture' and stuff survived so the inside is pretty empty. Which sorta just emphasises the HUGENESS of the place. There were certain rooms that we walked into and then said "I feel like an Ant" and, "I'm not worthy!" Unfortunately we weren't able to take pictures inside so the following are from the Net:
This is the Golden Staircase. We were just outside of it and reading about it and were all like "this isn't Golden!" and then walked in and looked up. . . VERY GOLDEN!!!
We walked into the above room and then cowered in the corner. . .
This room was covered with maps and one of the maps showed California on the left side, a bit of sea in the middle and then China on the right side. Amber stood there for about five minutes going "there's something wrong with this picture" before she clicked.
Here's some more photos of the courtyard (and when we say courtyard we, of course mean, a GIAGANTIC sod-off sized space that would quite comfortably fit a couple of rugby fields) of the Palace:
this is looking up towards the apartments, we don't even think a Panoramic camera would have been able to fit the whole thing in. . .
The guy on the left is Mars, the guy on the right is Neptune and the guy in the middle is an annoying tourist who wouldn't get out of Shelley's picture!!!!!
This was the Doge's personal Gondola and was very prettily carved.
It was as we emerged from the Doge's Palace that we discovered Venice was flooding. . .We also found that the queue to get into more of the pretty buildings was ridiculous so we went for a walk and found the Rialto Bridge which was where we (ie, Shelley) got even more scared (she says "concerned") about the flooding:
It's kind of hard to see in the second photo but that dark shape under the water is actually where the canal normally stops.
This is the view off the Rialto Bridge:
And for the shoppers amongst us (aka, Ma Watson), the Rialto bridge is actually famous for it's market. . .it has stalls on the actual bridge:
The rest of that day ended up being walk-abouts and window shopping.
It was over desser at dinner that night that we decided on our master plan. We would sample as much Tiramisu in the city as we could and compare it in a quest for The Best in All of Venice. Shelley wanted to tell the restaurants this in a hope for free Tiramisu however Amber Vetoed this plan as she felt the restaurants would probably want ID of some sort.
The next day we went on An Adventure by Waterbus. We decided we would go out to the Glass-Blower's island (Murano) and then to the Lace-maker's island (Burano) and from there possibly another random island called Torcello, where the guide books told us it was pretty.
The fares were very good with us being able to buy an "anywhere" ticket that would last us 12 hours (handy as it meant we didn't have to figure out too many different ticket options). It was very strange though to be catching a boat as a bus. We waited on floating "bus stops" and everything!
Our first stop for the day was Murano. From the 1500's, when techniques were first developed for glass making, and through till the 17th Century, glass-makers were forbidden to migrate under pain of DEATH. Until recently, glass-blowing was a family tradition and secrets were closely guarded however there is apparently now a school. A lot of the products on the island were ridiculously overpriced (even if they were considered "art") and all were very similar as well.
As soon as we stepped off the "bus" there were men who directed us towards a Glass-blowing demonstration just down the "road". Not really knowing any Italian, but understanding "free" we toddled off for a look. It WAS free to watch, but the show room attached had scarily large prices. It was difficult to take photos of the process due to the lighting but we mananged some:
After escaping the scarily priced showroom we hunted a coffee:
four coffees and fourten euros later, we continued on our merry way feeling much better with the world, if a little ripped off.
After wandering around Murano for a bit we discovered this strange arty thing. We have no idea why it's there or who it's by as all of the information was in Italian and strangely the interwubs has failed us. It was kinda funky and pretty though:
We then went to Burano which was really pretty cause of all the bright houses, see:
The second photo also shows the bell tower of Burano which is, supposedly, leaning. However we couldn't see any evidence of it and the reason it looks skew-wif in the photo is cause Amber can't keep the Camera level.
Next stop was Torcello for it's pretty Basilica. On the walk from the "bus stop" to the Basilica in question we saw our first bridge with no sides:
Amber wasn't allowed on it.
The outside of the church is pretty boring and we weren't allowed to take photos on the inside. There is also a Bell Tower however it is currently closed for "extraordinary restoration" (don't ask us what makes it extraordinary!)
Here is us ON a "bus":
To Be Continued. . .