A Travellerspoint blog

Venice, so many vaporatto

Glass, lace, churches, boats and sunshine.

20 °C

Day two finds us enjoying breakfast alone, but the others are up by the time we leave. The wind is brisk and while the sin tries to shine through the clouds are winning. As long as the rain continues to hold off we will be fine. Without maps we make our way to St. Georges the Anglican Church. The service is BCP and the hymn tunes are unfamiliar. The relief priest is from England, as are most of the visitors although one other couple is from Canada. Toronto. The altar is at the back of the sanctuary and the rector has his back to us when he prepares communion. The service is under an hour and we head back home so that we can get our travel supplies for the day. We fight the mob in San Marco campo and get our one-day vaparetto tickets. First stop will be Murano, but we will circle half of Venice and see many of the areas we walked yesterday, but from the lagoon.
The lagoon is bumpy but the ride is fun. We leave Venice and head across the lagoon and choose to bypass San Michele the Cemetery as Roger is getting hungry and we think food options might be limited there. We opt for the third stop at Murano away from the crowds. The town is wonderful. Unhurried we wander and at first all we see is the residential area and then we cross the canal and find a spot for lunch with the required free wifi. The rain is holding off, but the wind is still high. The food is good and reasonable. Unlike most toilets we've seen which are the squat variety. This toilet is big enough for a wheelchair and has a seat. The seat is so high my feet don't touch the floor.
Murano is known for its glass. The furnaces were sent out to the Island for fear of fire in Venice. We enjoy wandering and looking in the shops.
We want to go further so we find the vaparetto for Burano, which is known for its lace. The ride over is still bumpy and when we arrive the vaparetto for Torchello is ready to go so we grab that right away. Torchello is where the first mainland refuges settled to escape the barbarian hordes. Today it boasts about 20 residents and was a peaceful way to spend part of our afternoon. At one time there were 11 churches here, but the land was not hospitable to farming, there was no water and the mosquitoes and malaria were big problems. The remaining church is said to be the oldest one in Venice and in front are the ruins of a baptistery from the sixth century, as at that time you were not allowed to enter unless you were baptized. There was a wedding going on at this time so we did not enter. This island has cats. Lots of cats. Venice itself seems to be a dog city as we only saw two cats, one mouse and lots of dogs.
The garbage is being collected outside our window. This is done by boat and handcart.
We stop at Burano on the way back. It is filled with brightly coloured houses of all hues and intensities. The name Burano comes from the breeze, which protected the island from mosquitoes and malaria. Burano is known for its lace making and the prices on the island are cheaper than in Venice. Some very beautiful work and some cheap stuff. The public washroom has closed for the day, as are all the little shops. It is time to head back to Venice.
We make all our connections and take the Vaperatto from the stepping off point in Venice the same direction we started in the morning so we could do a full circle. A wander through San Marco brings us to some sandwich shops and a light supper. A glass of wine and we wander Listening to the orchestras spaced out around the square. We learn that you cannot sit on the ground in the square. We just wander more turning right and left at random, but finally find our way home map free. Yea!

Just a few rather random thoughts.
My favourite sign so far on the trip are the two places in Ephesus that advertised Genuine Fake Watches.
I liked watching people in shirt shorts and sleeveless shirts get stopped at the church doors. It is fun to see a man in a pretty shawl. My favourite were the two young men at St. Peters who were wearing shorts that didn't meet the rules. They managed to pull them far enough down their butts to get the knees covered. It was fun to watch and it was fortunate the shorts and underwear on the one were both black. Then we got to watch them try to climb the stairs with the crotches so low and tight.
In the church in Venice, San F. there was a corpse of a girl, Catherine who gave herself up to be martyred. I need to look that one up.
St. Peters has Italian Confessionals and Bilingual Confessionals.... English and Italian.
Venice’s water comes from the Alps.
Our B & B is located on the fourth/top floor of a building almost halfway between the Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square. There is a lift, but of course we don't use it. The big metal door is unlocked and a solid wooden door opens into the common area. The rooms are filled with antiques and interesting decorations including a life size Indian boy dressed as a servant. The walls are covered in rich fabrics and the beams are solid and big across the ceiling. The walls are thick and the windows close then there are shutters that you pull shut.

Posted by Mari Anne 09:53 Archived in Italy Tagged burano venice san marco windy murano torchello gelatto Comments (0)

Venice, Getting Lost

Why not, You can't get too lost in Venice.. can you?

We met the others staying at the B & B; A couple from Courtney on Vancouver Island and a woman and her mother from Germany. There is a nice selection of cereal, yoghurt, pastry, canned fruit, tea, coffee, juice and eggs to choose from.
It is now 10 pm and Roger is snoring quietly beside me. We were out and about for almost 12 hours today and he is worn out.
We began our self-guided tour in San Marco square and attempted to follow a planned guide. The morning had showers and the 5 Euro umbrellas were selling quickly. We passed and so did the showers. Our first stop was St. Zachariah dedicated to the father of John the Baptist; the walls are covered in paintings by Van Dyke, Bellini and others. We found San Giovanni in Bragora where Antonio Vivaldi was baptized. From here we explored the Sant Elena district, which is home to many of the locals. It is quiet as you wander down the lanes. Voice drift from the homes and the few local shops are closed for siesta. A stop on the Canal for coffee and wine and free Internet becomes a lunch stop. I order a dish called a bit of everything so that Roger can try all the local dishes. It is mostly seafood and although it is not my thing I try everything. It was perhaps a bit too much seafood for even Roger.
A nap further along on a bench beside the water and we are exploring again. We work our way through the Castello area; the highlight being San Francesco Della Vigna, set in an area that at one time was surrounded by vineyards. Its cloisters are a quiet haven to admire the old convent and the tombs.
We work our way to Cannaregio and enjoy a birra and wine and use the WC.
Our next wander takes us through the Jewish Getto. The term Geto originated in Venice and referred to a medieval foundry where metals for cannons were cast. Until Napoleon conquered Venice in 1797 Jews were only allowed to live in the getto. The city depended on them for money lending and for doctoring, but come curfew them were in the getto. The high buildings attest to the fact they could only build up not out. This is where you come today for kosher food and accommodations, but most of the Jews live elsewhere in the city. The bas-relief panels have quite an impact. A very sobering moment is a colourful city.
We stopped for a cup of fresh fruit and to drink some of the wine we had bought earlier in the day. You can only walk past litres of wine for under two Euros so often.
Time to head past the termini to the Santa Croce and Dorosdura area. It is a very pretty area with nice views along the canal. Very warm and sunny and expensive. Backtracking we cross the Academia Bridge and find a cafe for dinner. Panini for me and spaghetti for Roger. We again watch the dance of the street hawkers and the police. One on the squares was a family neighbourhood with children running all over playing games. No grass in site, but lots of people to run around. We run into the couple we met the night before and chat a bit before zeroing in on some gelato. Yum.
We have been out for hours and hours and head home to wash up, read and have a sleep. A great sleep, as it appears I slept through a major rain/thunder/lightning storm.

Posted by Mari Anne 09:51 Archived in Italy Tagged venice church sites castle wander getto Comments (0)

The family divides.

Two to UK, One to Vancouver and two to Venice.

sunny 29 °C

Breakfast is very crunchy bread/toast topped with Nutella and/or spreadable ricotta cheese ... yummy! Roger wanted the bread and Tracy the Nutella which means we have yogurt and muesli to carry with us on the train to Venice ... change in plans ... we actually ended up eating it before we left ... :) (Aren’t vacations wonderful!)?
Roma Cabs picked up Tracy, Joyce and Doris at 10am for the Airport (another handsome young Italian man for their driver). Tracy is on British Air at 13:35. She will get Grandma and Doris checked in for their flights with Swiss Air, which leaves at 15:10. Roger and I will simply walk over to the termini stazione at 13:00 and catch our train. Lets hope all goes well. No lets just assume all goes well ...
Things must have gone well as we have had no messages of despair.
The train was very nice and left on the button. there was a mom and daughter in our seats, but we left them there as they were going to Firenze only. They had been on the road over 24 hours as art of a group of 8 from Florida. Seated beside me the young girl was very good, but tended to take up a lot of space for such a small person and talked non stop until she finally passed out for a bit. When they left a family from China joined us. Ken and his wife and daughter had their train from Rome that morning cancelled due to a strike. They had to buy new tickets at a much higher cost and will have to apply later to get their money back for the first set. It was never quite clear why they were boarding in Firenze; I guess they had to take two trains. Also joining across from us were students, Shirley from Houston and Kate from Minnesota. It is almost time for them to return home. They almost got off at the stop on the mainland before Venice...whoops.
The train arrives and I phone Andrea our host. That is 'Andraya' as in Andrea Boticelli, not 'Andreeea'. He has instructed us to take the vaparetto or common water taxis, but I want to walk. Luckily there is a strike and only one is running so I get my wish. We manage to find the Rialto station and follow his directions to the B & B. Like in Rome we are on the third floor in number 9. How cool is that.
This is his home and it is just like the photos.... beautiful. He is a teacher in his other life and is very helpful to suggest what sites to see and suggests a dinner location when asked. We clean up and begin our travels. No cars, no vespas, no trams, just people and boats. We find Rosa Rossa and are seated inside where there is air conditioning...sort of. While I am not up to a traditional Italian meal with all the courses we start with a litre of house wine and a selection of bread and a plate of cold meat and olives. Roger is still craving meat. We follow his up with our first plate. Roger has the chefs recommended Salmon Lasagna and I opt for a pizza with vegetables and feta. They are both really good! Roger ate his then half my pizza. Time for dessert, Tiramisu for Roger and Chocolate Gelato for me that has a creamy surprise in the middle.
At this point I make Roger take a photo of Johnny Depp's jacket that he presented the restaurant when he was there filming 'The Tourist'. This movie is a must see. This instigates a conversation with the couple at the next table. They are from Philly, and she has been teaching here in the field of law. Her office sent her over. Not a bad deal! We chat until the wine is finito and then some before we wander out again. We find St. Marco's square and enjoy the nightlife as we cruise the warren of streets. They are sparser, but there are still the hawkers of handbags, toxic jelly toys and illuminated flying 'things'. The restaurants spill out into the square and string quartets entertain with pizzazz. Workers are setting up the square for a concert tomorrow night featuring Sting and an Orchestra.
Trying to find our way home is a challenge so we finally manage to make our way to the rialto bridge and from there we are able to find our home for the night.

Posted by Mari Anne 03:19 Archived in Italy Tagged venice england train vancouver rome flights Comments (0)

Rome, Italy

A whole day to explore

The group is fed and watered. A load of wash is done, but as I touched the metal counter above the clothes washer and wiped a drip of water from the floor I got a shock that went up both arms. We let the load finish and turned it off.
So the decision is no hop on and off tour, no guided tour. We are walking. Having done the walk ourselves two nights ago we had a good idea where to go. The plan of the day is walk ten minutes and sit ten minutes and see how the seniors do. This more or less worked.
We took them to the Coliseum with only one break and sat for a bit. OK it is more crowded than when you walk at night but I was expecting hoards of people and it was not too bad. There was no one lined up for the tickets on the side we came in and the main line up didn't seem that bad at all. Next sit down was at the forum. Half the fun is watching the tourists, the nuns in their many habits, the local hucksters and the tour groups that wander along looking hot and tired. Joyce is magnetically attracted to the stalls, but has yet to buy a long sleeved white shirt or a five Euro handbag.
We get them to the Victor Emmanuel Monument before crossing a very busy street in one piece. Now to find a place to eat on the way to Trevi Fountain. Voila, we turn a corner and a Pizzaria appears on the sidewalk, in the shade on a side street with no motorized traffic.
Our server speaks French and is very helpful as we order a litre of white house wine, mixed grilled veggies, a veggie pizza and a salad Mista. While we wait out comes a very tasty white bread and the oil and vinegar for the salad. We put some on our plate to dip the bread. This is all quite filling and we chat with two girls from Portugal that sit next to us. One Marianna spoke English quite well, the other did not say much so we think she does not speak English. By the time we leave she has Roger's email and will contact us.
They never bring you the bill unless you ask so we don't see the young waiter who served us for a bit. When we do Joyce said some thing along the lines that Tracy was looking for the handsome waiter. When asked Tracy explained what Joyce had said and blushed. The waiter quite liked that and on his way out we could see him telling his buddy. Tracy went in the Doris to pay the bill and when she came out she explained, much to our amusement, that the waiter had asked her out tonight. We said our goodbyes to the girls from Portugal and the waiter met us as we left to say he would be here tonight if Tracy would come by. Tracy said if she did that her mom and dad would be with her. He said no matter. LOL
Trevi fountain was just around the corner and Joyce and Doris threw their coins in and before we made our way out of the crowd we said hi to a fellow with a Vancouver Olympic shirt on. Turns out he and his girl friend are from Surrey and went to Holy Cross and knew several people that we know.
Now it was finally time for Gelato. Ah.... it was very good. We tried 8 flavours between the five of us, but the chocolate with nuts was my favourite. Again it was only about ten minutes to the Spanish Steps and after Roger tried to get them to walk up the steps and got peels of laughter a taxi was hailed. Tracy and I opted to walk and let others enjoy a little space as no vans showed up and we have already experienced too many in a taxi.
After a gin and tonic and a card game we head off to pick up dinner. A small tasty chicken and some green beans to add to the salad we already have and a bit of pasta to finish off the pasta sauce. Roger is craving meat.... perhaps chicken will help but I Imagine he needs red meat. Roger insisted on more wine, but we can take the leftovers with us on the train.
We are washed and packed so head out again into the night. Wifi in Rome is spotty. The place we went to last time won't connect properly so we go to a place we had passed. They advertise bar and food, but were not very polite when we wanted only bar.... then we saw their prices and decided to move along. 10 euros for a cocktail s a bit much. We passed an internet place which had wifi as well as their own computers for use so for 4 Euros for an hour we got all the plane info organized for tomorrow and people checked their email.
A special hug to Vivienne's friends and family on what would have been her 40th birthday. We miss you Vivienne. Also a hug to Heather and family, sorry to hear of your loss.

Posted by Mari Anne 03:18 Archived in Italy Tagged people city apartment rome explore 5 Comments (0)

Rome, Italy day three

Wow.. now what?

sunny 28 °C

Tracy and I headed over to the termini to check out tour options. After finally finding an info site we discovered they don't have brochures out and ready for travelers. But we did talk to Guido who works with green line hop on and off buses, so we can stop by there tomorrow and get a deal.
We got a taxi and the five of us squeezed into a cab for four. Pretty funny. I have pictures. We arrived at the Vatican and it was not that busy. We had reserved tickets that probably saved us five minutes, but we were in in no time. We split up for the first hour exploring the area around the Cortile Della Pigna Courtyard. There are Egyptian displays including the mummy of a woman who died three millennium ago. Her hair was red with henna and on the lid of her coffin lid was the stuff she packed on her journey to the afterlife.
We moved onto animals as Egyptians worshiped them as incarnations of the gods, and brown tablets with Sumerian writing. The next rooms displayed more Roman statuary, frescoes and artifacts. Everyone was crowded around the Belvedere torso, which is all that remains of an ancient statue of Hercules. Then the round room, which shows some idea of Roman grandeur, the floor tiled with what, was once the bottom of a roman bath.
The long walk to the Sistine chapel begins. A quarter mile of tapestries maps and sculpture. Tracy pointed out the tapestries were made in Belgium. The Raphael rooms were amazing. His students finished the frescoes started by 25-year-old Raphael who was quite handsome and sophisticated. We have been in and out of rooms, down halls, up stairs and down stairs and again we are lead downstairs. You begin to wonder if you will ever get there when you see a sign reminding us of proper attire for the chapel and we are in. We found seats along the sides and just sat and took in the sites. People were stopped at the door and asked to cover up, people were taking pictures and warned to stop, many were loud and ever few minutes they were shushed and the noise level lowers for a moment and then builds. No words here...just look it up.
The long walk back takes you by everything Pope related. Stoles, hats, rings, bibles and all. We make our way down to the washrooms and order drinks while Roger and Tracy nip up to get some very mediocre pizza and we enjoyed our break. Again we walk down and return the two audio guides and make our way outside.
A 15-minute walk to the left brings us to St. Peter's Basilica. We find a spot for Joyce and Doris to sit and watch the world go by. The vote is taken and we go in. The line up is short and we pass security. Again I have no words to describe what I see. The mix of emotions, of the wealth in the Basilica and the poverty in Rome, the beauty, The Pieta, done by Michelangelo at age 24 was remarkable. It was too late to see the tombs, but there is always another time, we did throw coins in the Trevi fountain after all. There was a service going on and the temptation to stay was strong, but we chose to move along and this time we found a taxi van and our return trip was much better. Certainly not as entertaining. Dinner was Egg and chips for Joyce and salad. Simple, but really we're not too hungry. The Gin and Tonic and wine are much more appreciated. It is already after nine so we head out to find Internet. You have to register at McDonalds and have a phone number where they can text you the password. We find another place and buy a beer and get hooked up, but for whatever reason it kept kicking us out of gmail, which is where I need to be to get travel details confirmed for flights on Friday.
We also tried to plan something for the seniors. While a riverboat ride seemed a possibility the reviews on Trip Advisor all panned it. Lousy food, the river is below city level so no views and so on.

Posted by Mari Anne 13:24 Archived in Italy Tagged peter basilica rome vatican saint piazza Comments (0)

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