Pedestrians in Venice
Trip Start May 10, 2009
12Trip End May 22, 2009
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I had a list (this won't surprise anyone) of things we needed to do before we started sightseeing. Go to the tourist information office at St. Mark's Square and get a museum pass and a good map, buy a train ticket at the travel agency, pick up some more euros so I could pay the hotel in cash, etc. This was all done by about noon but we felt we had been sightseeing all morning because Venice is such an unusual place and even with our hotel map, we quite often didn't know where we were. The Grand Canal splits Venice into two parts, but the hundreds of little canals that branch off of it make walking to any one place a challenge because you can't go anywhere in a straight line. One inevitably comes upon a canal and must backtrack along maze-like paths until a small bridge is found which is further east or west than you need to be. Finding any of the little streets on the map is next to impossible but there are quite often signs indicating the direction of major landmarks like St. Mark's, or Ferrovia (train station) and you either head that way or in the opposite direction as you need.
We found a small deli in a narrow street in a shopping district behind the Doge's Palace and had an excellent focaccia sandwich and relaxed before heading to the major tourist sights at the square. We did learn one thing at that little deli. Mom has difficulty with these strange european public bathrooms. She will need to learn how to squat. Well, she will need to learn to squat and relax at the same time!
The Rick Steves guidebook is worth every penny invested in it. We knew were to find a tourist information booth without long lineups. There was a huge lineup to get into the cathedral and there is no sign saying backpacks not allowed. It seemed like every other person was brusquely being turned back after they had waited in line for an hour to get in. Following the guidebook, we found the baggage check in another local church down a side-street (again no signs to this place) and with our baggage check receipt in hand, walked right to the front of the cathedral, where they let us in bypassing the lines.
Next was Doge's Palace. This is the residence for the Doge (the most powerful person in europe for 400 years) and the building also housed the courts, government offices, and has an attachment to another buidling which was the first prison built solely for housing criminals. The Palace is a very elaborate structure with rooms and ceilings lined in fantastic frescoes and artwork with gilded frames all around. We eventually made our way across the Bridge of Sighs, a nickname popularized during the Romantic Period, where prisoners got their last glimpse of the lagoon before making their way to their cells.
Venice is an island that has been build up upon the silt released from a river coming out of the mountains. Floors in buildings are kind of wavy as everything is slowly sinking. The columns are shorter in the Doge's Palace because they keep building up the floors as the entire structure sinks. Therefore, all walking surfaces are either stone, brick, cement, or marble. Very hard on the feet. Mom's pedometer read over 16km at the end of the day and we felt every step.
A big thank you to Danny Wojcik who lent Mom his camera. My battery died in the cathedral and most of today's pictures were taken with his camera and all of the video of course. We are so lucky with the weather. Can't wait until we get in bed and wake up tomorrow.