Tag Archives: Venice

06.11.16 – Day 4 – Venice

20161106_132746Our last full day in Venice and already I knew I wanted to be here longer.  A friend of mine told me that a few days would be enough but I disagree. Next time I come I want to be here for at least a week. There is so much to see and do.  I feel like I’ve barely scratched the
surface.

We’d decided to visit the Museum (museo) in St Mark’s Square in the morning.  The rain had eased off but already the square was flooded so there were raised boards for people to walk on.  I paddled in the water a bit but it got quite deep and my walking shoes were
already wet.  I wished I’d put my walking boots on!

The Museum was huge, one museum seemed to lead into another, all for one price.  I had to get used to the fact that Italian was the primary language on the display signs with English being a smaller listing.  Usually everything is written in English first.  I’d really 20161106_114510.jpglike to learn some Italian when I come back to Venice and be able to at least read it.

My favourite room by far (unsurprisingly) was the library but it was a close thing with the naval display rooms which were stunning.  Hubby wanted to look at the painting but other than the ones in the naval display, a lot of them were deeply religious and not my thing at all.

20161106_120615In the afternoon we went to the Doge’s Palace which admittedly I wasn’t top of my list but quite honestly I’d have missed out if I hadn’t gone.  The architecture is quite simply stunning.  The pictures I took don’t do it justice.  You have to see it to believe it.  Very opulent and jaw-dropping in places.  The detail in places, especially the ceilings was amazing.  20161106_134939I didn’t know where to look.  It is such a spectacular place with so much to look at.  I could happily have spent the whole day here.

 

I loved particularly loved the corridor that walked over The Bridge of Sighs.  I didn’t know it was there and provided a unique view of one of the most famous landmarks of Venice.  I don’t imagine the prisoners were as excited at me as they were led over the corridor, down into their cells into the dark and dank dungeon…

The weather had cleared up nicely so after we’d finished at the Doge’s Palace we wandered down to the Grand Canal to post my postcards.  Dinner was a fairly quiet affair in a small 20161106_141635local place then more wandering to look for tat to take home with me.  I got the pre-requisite fridge magnet but even the tat was quite expensive so I didn’t buy too much.

During the course of the day, I realised that I know very little about Venetian history so I bought a book, along with a cookery book of traditional Venetian recipes.  I like to take something of the culture home from each place I visit, especially when it comes to food.

I completely fell in love with Venice during my time here.  I hope to visit again soon and explore a bit more of Italy because if Venice is anything to go by, it’s the beginning of a lifelong love affair….

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05.11.16 – Day 3, Venice

Today was one our first full day in Venice. I woke up early, excited to be in Venic20161105_095551e and wanting to explore! It was 6am and we’d slept with the balcony door open so I was surrounded by the sounds of Venice as I woke. I love the noise from the boats going passed, people talking to each other in Italian and the sound of the church bells that finally woke hubby around 7am.

Breakfast was provided by the hotel and was rather a fine (and expensive!) affair that was included in the cost of the room. There were hot options – eggs benedict, cooked breakfast and a few other things – but I opted for the continental breakfast. It was a beautiful selection of meats, breads, cheeses, salmon, herring, pastries and breakfast cake! I’ve long been an advocate of breakfast cake……but I didn’t know one actually existed. Obviously I’ve never been to Italy before! I’m not sure if it’s common but it’s good to know!

I had a beautiful breakfast of croissant, meat (salami and some hams), cheeses, smoked salmon and herring. I was in piggy heaven, so much so that I went up for a second, smaller helping! So far I’ve loved the food in Venice. Even hubby who doesn’t like mozzarella will eat it here.

After breakfast it was time to go out and enjoy the sights. I’m smiling just writing this because I’ve fallen in love with Venice (I do that with a lot of places that I visit!) and I want to see more of Italy, experience its culture and learn it’s language. I’ve not travelled widely in Europe and I feel like I’ve missed out.

Before we visited, I didn’t know a lot about Venice. I knew about the canals, the gondolas but I didn’t know you could walk as much as you do through Venice. It isn’t a huge city but you do need to know where you are going because it is like a maze. I was also surprised that although everybody speaks English to a greater or lesser degree, it’s not always fluent and sometimes there is a lot of pointing, gesturing and smiling involved! Everybody was very friendly and willing to help as much as they could though.

20161105_102535It was pouring with rain when we set out but I was determined not to let it ruin the day. The only real complaint with it was people with umbrellas. Venice was packed and the majority of people had umbrellas so you were running the gauntlet of getting an umbrella in the head. In the end I was holding up my arm to protect my face as I passed people with lethal umbrellas which seemed to solve the problem. People didn’t actually seem to realise how close they were to hitting people with them.

So umbrellas aside, it was a good day. We set off after breakfast and headed for Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) with a small map from the hotel and my in-laws as guides because they had been here before.  Before we got very far we went into a small church that wasn’t far from the hotel.  The exterior, although nice enough, gave no hint of the opulence hidden inside.  I would have loved to have taken some photos but there was a sign asking people not to take pictures.

Hubby and I have agreed that Venice is one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities 20161105_103834that we have been to.  It is filled with beautiful architecture in even the most simple of buildings.

Piazza San Marco was stunning.  I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t know much about it.  The star of the show is definitely St Marks Bascilia which is a cathedral, the architecture of which is hard to describe.  Stunning and elaborate.  You could look at the exterior of the building for hours and still miss some of the smaller details..  The queues to get in were quite large so we didn’t go inside, instead we headed for The Bridge of Sighs, an enclosed must-see tourist attraction in Venice.  Legend has it that the Bridge got it’s name because of the sighs of prisoners that crossed it.

I bought some over-priced postcards near the grand canal then our whistlestop tour of the site continued with a walk to the Renalto Bridge.  I was dismayed to find it boarded up because there was repair work taking place. One side of the bride was okay so I managed to get the obligatory tourist picture.

20161105_135323One of the things on my ‘must do’ list was to visit the Jewish Quarter.  There are two memorial plaques there for the Holocaust victims of the city.  I read a book about it long before I knew I was coming to Venice and I vowed that if I was ever to visit, I would go to see the memorials and pay my respects.  It is a very sad part of history and reading about it was heartbreaking.

We got a water-taxi there and the driver (do you call them drivers or pilots??) poin20161105_134737ted out the original entrance to the Ghetto.  It was a lot quieter than central Venice but safe enough for tourists.  As we entered the Ghetto there was a restaurant holding some kind of Jewish party.  It was raucous with people having fun and was good to see.

Unfortunately the museum wasn’t open.  I checked with a guard at the booth in the corner of the square.  I managed to find the memorial and the sculpture by Arbit Blatas.  It was so sad that it brought tears to my eyes, especially the memorial with the nam20161105_134828es and ages of those that were taken.  It is important to me when I travel to get to the essence of a place, not just the touristy bits.  I don’t want a checkbox of activities that I need to fill in to have seen a place, I want to feel it and in this case, wanted to pay my respects and feel the sadness of memorials.  I wanted the good as well as the bad.

We decided to walk back to experience more the city.  It was a very peaceful walk.  I was 20161105_134954salivating in the windows of the food shops.  I love Italian food!  Hubby and I were hungry mid-afternoon so we shared a piece of cake while my in-laws shared a cake.  It was quite funny because our pizza was less per person than the cake was!  I wasn’t sure whether to have a pizza because dinner was booked in the hotel that evening and I knew it would be a very fancy and elaborate affair.  The restaurant has a dress code and no prices on the menu.  Anyway, the pizza was delicious.

Even though a lot of my hobbies are outdoorsy, it is nice to have an excuse to dress up some times and this evening I wore a dress from River Island that I’ve never had the opportunity to wear before, finished off with the obligatory cowboy boots of course!

We met my in-laws in the bar and were fed all kinds of snacks while we waited.  I was tempted to stay in there and fill up!  Dinner was at 7:30pm.  It was very, very nice.  I did wish they would turn up the lights though.  The restaurant was candlelit to give it atmosphere but dark rooms make me want to drop off!  Service was impeccable, food was delicious (especially the risotto that I ordered) though not as good as the train but I can’t help but wonder if a local place would have been just as enjoyable, albeit in a different way.

It was a good evening though and a very good day.  I’m left with the feeling that our time here won’t be enough and we will definitely have to visit for longer next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

04.11.16 – Day 2, Orient Express – Venice

The first night on the train was a mixed bag.  I got some sleep, though not as much as I would have liked.  The train stopped from about midnight until about 3am which surprised me.  I thought that the train kept going through the night.  The cabin got quite hot so we opened the window.  Hubby commented that it would have been nice to have had the noise from the train as we slept and I agreed.  By the time the train got going, the open window was blowing a gale and I couldn’t be bothered to sit up and close it!

In the morning we found out the reason that the train had stopped for so long was because the train had actually broken down in the middle of nowhere and another en20161104_082658gine had to be brought out
to the train.  As a result of that, we were running 4 hours behind schedule.  We had been due to arrive in Venice at 5:30pm but it would most likely be 9:30pm instead.  An additional ‘light’ supper would be provided for those who wanted it.  A light supper, it later transpired, meant 2 courses (main and dessert) instead of the usual 3 courses!
The Steward advised us to let him know when we were ready for breakfast then he would convert our cabins back to daytime mode and bring in a breakfast of fresh fruit salad and pastries with a delicious selection of preserves.  I discovered that I love French honey!

After breakfast we took a wander up to the on-board shop.  I was disappointed to learn that they didn’t have an20161104_103805y fridge magnets.  I did manage to get an Orient Express bear that I was absolutely delighted with! It was an expensive but very memorable souvenir.

We spent some time in the bar playing cribbage.  It was blissfully quiet compared to the night before but the piano player was still playing.  What a lovely way to pass a few hours!

20161104_122404After we’d finished we headed back to our cabin to watch the beautiful scenery.  Part o20161104_131638f the
journey was through the Swiss alps.  Some was beautiful greenery, others were more dramatic mountains, lakes and ravines.  It made us want to do a driving holiday through Switzerland at some point!

The choice of lunch sittings was either 12pm or 2pm.  We choose 2pm as we were still quite 20161104_144056full from all the food we’d been given whilst on board.  I’d have been happy with something smaller but it was a (delicious) 3 course lunch! Sole for starter, duck for main and cheesecake for dessert.  At this point I felt like I never wanted to eat again!

20161104_164336No chance!  Afternoon tea was served in the cabin and a ‘light’ supper was offered at 6pm.  We declined the light supper.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and packing up our suitcase ready for when we got into Venice.  We had a short stopover at the Swiss/Italian border so we could swap over the engine and train crew.  It was also an opportunity for guests to stretch their legs which was most welcome.  I’m not used to sitting still for this long!  Again, there were armed police not too far away from the train.

By about 7pm I was ready to get off the train.  It was dark outside and we were killing time until we were able to get off.  About 45 minutes before we were to disembark the Steward collected our suitcases for sending on to the hotel.  Our hand luggage was also supposed to be sent on but because our train was so delayed we had to carry it with us.  This didn’t go down too well with all of the passengers!

We were met from the train and taken down to the dock to meet the water taxi.  As we 20161104_213115came out of the station, I was struck by the beauty and atmosphere of Venice.  There was a bustling atmosphere with people everywhere.  It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before.  I just wanted to stop, stare and take lots of pictures!

A small water taxi had been organised to take us to our hotel.  It was tiny and I had no idea how it would get 9 or us plus luggage in there but somehow it managed to.  My sea legs left something to be desired and as I got down into the boat  I had to hold onto one of the guys loading the luggage and the one on the boat.  What a good excuse to get handsy with some Italians!!

The journey to the hotel took about 10 minutes and I was mesmerised by the city.  I didn’t know where to look first.  It was so beautiful and so very, very different.  I’ve wanted to go to Venice for as long as I can remember and finally I was here, experiencing it after being on-board The Orient Express for 2 days.  It all felt rather surreal.

20161104_212936We were staying at The Gritti Palace Hotel, which from the outside looks like a club.  As we were disembarking, hotel staff descended on us to take our bags.  The hotel was quite simply stunning.  I was lost for words as we walked into the lobby.  Beautiful doesn’t quite cover it.  The architecture is amazing.  Marble everywhere and a gorgeous library area with leather chairs.  This was somewhere that I could sit for hours reading and people watching.

20161104_215533Our rooms were no less lavish.  The suite (room is too 20161104_215409small a word) was enormous with huge, high ceilings and a balcony looking out over the canal.  The bathroom was gorgeous with a deep bath, shower area and his n hers wash area.  The bed was big enough for 5 (though we contented ourselves with just the two of us!) and complementary champagne, bowls of fruit and water waiting for us.

By the time we were in and settled it was 10:30pm but we were hungry so we headed down 20161104_23092420161104_230931to the bar to get some (very expensive) food.  We sat outside in the bar area, sharing a club sandwich and cheeseburger watching the sites and listening to the sounds of Venice.  It still felt a bit unreal. I was excited to be in Venice and I couldn’t wait to get out and start exploring.

We dec20161104_223003ided to sleep with the balcony door open even though it was cold because we wanted to listen to the sounds of Venice.  We had extra blankets and I wanted to make the most of the experience.

Tomorrow the adventure was to begin anew!  I had a feeling I was going to love Venice!