Sunday, April 18, 2010


The second week of our European vacation was spent in Italy. We got there using our train passes. We traveled in a sleeping car through Switzerland, so we didn't see much of anything, and we didn't get much sleep. I was too wound up to sleep and I don't sleep well under those circumstances. Ah well. Sleeping cars are cool, though. I wish we'd taken more pictures of the sleeping car.

The plan was to spend the first half of the week in Venice and the last half in Rome, and to fly back home from Rome, which is exactly what we did. So, let's talk about Venice. It's everything that you already think it is and more. Before I took this trip, whenever I thought of Venice I pictured gondolas and men singing outside of cafes. There are gondolas because the entire city is surrounded by water. And men do sing outside of cafes. The rumors are true:-) There are no cars in Venice. I didn't see that coming. I should have, but I didn't. Because there are no cars, there are no traditional streets. That means that there are streets, but the width of the streets can be more like a sidewalk and they twist and wind like they were created with no real intent or design. They just happened haphazardly. I suppose the businesses went up first and the streets came along afterwards to connect everything. There were times that I had that rat in a maze feeling and was certain that there was cheese waiting for me at the end. I got the picture of the above here.

We stayed in a very small hotel near the Piazza San Marco. At the end of the piazza is St. Mark's Church, or the Basillica San Marco, which can be partially seen in this picture that I found at this site. Our hotel was nothing like the traditional hotel found in the US. It had very few rooms and the rooms were tiny. It was a very good thing that we spent very little time in there. The piazza was an excellent place simply to people watch. There were hordes of people there at all times of day. St. Mark's Church was the first church that we toured. So, it was also the first and, possibly worst, case of my disillusionment. If you want to tour any churches in Italy, be forewarned, you cannot do so sleeveless. (That wasn't my disillusionment.) The church was beautiful. You could look around inside at no charge, if I remember correctly. I can't remember if you could look at the church's "treasury" at no charge or not. I know that if you wanted to listen to a recording in your language describing what you were seeing, there was a fee for that. My friend and I each paid the fee and listened to the recording. Our thinking was that you might as well get the full experience. I remember leaving the treasury room angry. I had just gotten a detailed description of their ill-gotten (stolen) goods from the Crusades, and there wasn't a hint of remorse about the whole deal.

The next option was to pay money to view this beautiful artwork within the church. It sat on the alter and was positioned so that the congregation could not see it. However, we could pay to look at it. Say what? The congregation came to this church every Sunday and got to look at the backside of a beautiful piece of art each week? If they wanted to look at it, they could come in and pay extra to look at it??? What kind of an operation are you people running? Granted, there was art all over the walls and ceilings of this church. I am not naive. I know that churches need money to keep on keeping on, but I felt like someone, at some time crossed a line here, and they lost their way. When you leave church, you should feel spiritually fed, I left feeling hollowed out.

One of the things that I did not know about Venice, but that became obvious fairly quickly, is that Venice is renowned for its hand blown glass. We rode the local ferry to one of the glass shops to actually see it being made. It is pretty darn cool. Anyway, there is hand blown glass for sale everywhere in Venice. It is lovely and I was buying it like a fool because every time I turned around I was thinking of someone else who surely would want some as a souvenir. Sadly, that particular piece of hand blown glass is not mine. I found it on a website, but you can find it here and it is for sale...

We toured several other famous places like the bell tower, which is also close to St. Mark's Church, and Doge's Palace. That was another place where we paid money to listen to the recording. Oddly enough, I can't recall a single thing about it. I think I must have been on information overload. I think that it might have been the place where they kept they prisoners at one time, because I vaguely remember seeing dungeons. Moving on.... I fell in love with gelatto in Venice. It is lighter than ice cream, and if you ever buy it in the US and they call it gelatto, it isn't. I remember wishing that I had more days for Venice because there was still so much left unseen. However, we ran out of time. When we caught our ferry in order to catch our train, it was early in the morning. It was quiet and serene. As our ferry cut through the water, I had a feeling of de ja vu. It had been a long time since I'd had one of those moments, and it took me by surprise. And then I smiled because I LOVE de ja vu experiences, because I feel like they are messages letting you know that you are exactly where you should be.
Tomorrow I will tell you all about Rome...


  1. This post is as fascinating as the previous one. I am so envious of your travel! What wonderful memories!

  2. how beautifull and wonderful. I like traveling. I felt the same way about notre was like a tourist trap.
    The sacre couer was a ton better....Can't wait to read about rome.


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