Thursday, May 30, 2013

Venice, City of Getting Lost

Going to so many new places means that Paul and I get a little lost from time to time.  Google Maps has been a huge help with that.  Paul caches local maps, and we can use those without data on his Android phone.

However, Venice is still tricky, even with a cached map.  Streets make sudden 90 degree turns or dead end into canals quite frequently.  That really just adds to the fun, though.  We spent 1.5 days getting lost in Venice - over and over - and it was great!  Paul particularly liked when we stumbled into empty squares like this one:
Most tourists spend all their time in about 20% of Venice, which means that you don't have to go far to get away from all of them.  Paul and I certainly took advantage of that.

The other fabulous thing about Venice is that it has public parks.  In Florence, we tried quite hard to find one in the evenings, but everything was gated off or closed (and had charged admission earlier in the day). Venice has a variety of small public parks, so amidst getting lost, we could stop and just relax in the sun for a while.  The weather in Venice was gorgeous - mid-60s to low 70s and sunny.

St. Mark's Basilica is one of the main attractions in Venice, so we dutifully took some pictures.  You can see the reflection of the Basilica in the water that is slowly coming up from underneath the square in this photo.  Sometimes the whole square floods, but this is pretty much the most water we saw:
Inside, the Basilica is covered in mosaics with gold backdrops.  You weren't supposed to take photos but everyone was, so I cheated, too:
We also made sure to check out the dueling orchestras on St. Mark's Square in the evening.  There are three of these 4-5 person ensembles at restaurants around the square.  You can pay a lot of money to sit at one of the tables - OR, you can join the crowds moving from ensemble to ensemble as they take turns churning out lovely music:
And, of course, we viewed the infamous Bridge of Sighs that convicted criminals crossed on their way to prison.  Supposedly, they sighed as they took in their last glimpse of Venice.  You can also see some of the many gondolas taking tourists on a ride through the canals.  We opted not to take a gondola ride.
But we did ride one of the vaporettos (public transit boats) down the Grand Canal while listening to a Rick Steves audio tour.  It was lovely to see Venice from the water:
And no blog post is complete without a photo of us.  Paul commented that it looks like we've been superimposed onto this photo.  Really, it's just because the camera used flash - I swear!  We're standing on the Rialto Bridge - one of the three main bridges over the Grand Canal.

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