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Venice, Italy - Days 1 & 2

Author: PenelopeCorelli (More Trip Reviews by PenelopeCorelli)
Date of Trip: July 2009

venice grand canalFriday, July 17: Venice, Day 1
Sailed in to Venice in the morning, while the crew passed out cannoli. Everyone's favorite sail-in! We are here for 3 full days. The ship normally docks in Split, Croatia on this leg, but because of the major holiday in Venice this weekend, Festa Del Redentore, no ships are allowed to enter or leave until Monday. Listened to some of Rick Steve's audio tour of the Grand Canal, which I had downloaded to my mp3. Amazing views! A thrilling experience!

We left at about 11:30am. Walked to Piazzale Roma (18 minutes, 1.4 km). Searched for and found Venice Connected. We bought transportation passes online: 72-hour ones for Jim & myself (31,35 € each) and a 36-hour one for Cate (21,85 €), who was returning home on Sunday. It entitled us to as many trips as we needed for that time period. Saved a lot of money that way. We also bought museum passes (16,00 € for adults & 10,00 € for students under 29 -- & those over 65) through Venice Connected. It includes other services such as Casino admission (which we didn't use) and Wi-Fi. (We never were able to get online -- people at Venice Connected in Venice either knew nothing or couldn't help us).

Aside: We were spending our 40th anniversary alone -- when first booking the cruise our other children encouraged us to go alone, but we wanted to take our youngest, since the rate was supposedly a lot less for the third person, and it would be a lifetime experience for her. I was fortunate enough to have been on a 2-week bus tour of Europe when I was 18, courtesy of my parents (I was an only child, so it was easier for them to do it.). When we actually booked our 13 year-old daughter, HAL said we'd have to pay for the full trip -- 24 day back to back -- not just the 12-day. And her fare was considerably more than the "starting at $99" promo rate. But she was thrilled and had a wonderful time. She was ready to return when the time came -- she missed her dog -- and we promised we'd take the Family Doll we made of her -- to Athens.

At Venice Connected we gave our PNR number that we received via email when we bought the tickets and then got our passes. The heat seemed okay earlier -- tolerable, but later it got hotter. (After all, it was mid-July!) Took a water, but bought another for €2 -- 11/2 liters.

venice gondolas canalWe took the Number 1 Vaporetto that starts at Piazzale Roma, so we got good seats outside and up in the very front. Front left is slightly better than front right because of an obstruction on the right side. There is no center view, so you have to decide as you get on where the best chance is of a great seat. There are others with the same plan. But we had the most awesome ride down the Grand Canal! We were oohing and aahing all the way, taking lots of photos and movies. This vaporetto stops at every stop. We got off at the stop past St. Mark's (less crowded) and walked to the Doge's Palace.

Aside: We went to few museums on our vacation due to time constraints and not wanted to see things we can see in a book or online -- as opposed to the sights and sounds and tastes of actually being in a different place. Museums are great, but pictures from the inside all look similar -- because they're inside. Of course, there is usually a/c!....But naah, we just got gelati and sweat it out!

The Doge's Palace - golden staircase, beautiful ceilings, Tintoretto art, lovely courtyard, the Bridge of Sighs; it was great. Paid € 5 for one audio guide. Didn't want to spend a lot of time here stopping by each thing to hear a five minute talk about it, so we listened to a few of the things and walked around. Jim got busted twice for taking photos (it was on museum mode- no flash, no sound), although we saw others taking photos at times & would see a flash now& then. He took a few arbitrarily pointed at the ceiling, but they didn't come out, anyway. Postcards or the Internet are the best way to get good museum shots.

We then went on a walk through the streets of Venice. Jim had a walking tour planned using the old American Express travel guides. We had used these in London & Paris years before, so I ordered Rome, Florence & Venice books from booksellers online. Paid €4.05 for drinks and 3 postcards.

Got hotter. Saw churches and walked up and down many bridges. Cate found a glass maker's shop -- L'Albero on Calle dell'Ospealetto 6376 & bought 2 pendants - for herself & her friend, € 10 each. The artist, Giuseppe Inzerillo, said he sold his things to other dealers and shops in Venice.

Stopped at Pyramid Pizza. Jim & Cate had a pizza, I had gnocchi, & we bought a bottle of water. The food prices weren't cheap but were fairly reasonable, we thought, until they charged us 2 € each for eating in! So that's a 30% tip! Paid 28,50€ total.

They then had gelati (2 € each) & I bought a small painted mask for €1,80. Prices were cheaper than shops in heavy tourist areas.

Went into a church -- here they charge you 3 € to go into a church! - Unless there's a mass, I think. We didn't go in, but Cate bought a rosary bracelet for 2 €.

As we walked along the narrow streets we came upon a pet store -- of all things! Martin Pescatore on Cannaregio 6423 (I kept the receipts so I could see where we went.) So Cate bought a toy and some treats for her/our dog, who was at home with the other family members. He was about the only one we hadn't bought presents for yet! One large squeaky zebra bone = € 6,50 & 3 stick chew treats of different colors = € 0.35 each.

rialto bridge veniceWe got a little lost looking for the Rialto Bridge -- but you're supposed to get lost in Venice -- part of the experience! Paid another 2,50 € for water.

Tried to find out how to use the WiFi, but no one could tell us at Venice Connected how exactly to do it: what was our User Name & Password? Tried several things, checked our email confirmation for some sort of code, but never figured it out.

Found the free shuttle to our ship -- the Oosterdam -- it left Piazzale Roma at about 6pm.

Saturday, July 18: Venice, Day 2

Walked to Piazzale Roma -- the shuttles weren't running yet, as it was early. Stopped at the Post Office by the vaporetto stop to get stamps (€1,70) for my postcards & mail them.

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