Venice: where Kevin wore an orange shawl

Trip Start May 22, 2005
Trip End Aug 09, 2005

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

June 23
Leaving Munich at 8 a.m., we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Upon leaving Germany we spent a few hours driving through Austria and made a stop in St. Johann. This was a beautiful little town in the Austrian Alps, and it was our lunch stop so we had an hour to walk around the town. Then it was on to Italy, and this day's drive was the nicest and most picturesque so far on the Busabout trip. The Alps are incredible no matter what country they are in, and Italy's are made all the more beautiful because of the terra forming that takes place. The first rest stop we reached in Italy was about an hour inside the border, and the temperature must have been 40 degrees. We arrived at our campsite (near the airport!) at 6 p.m. and unloaded our bags at the bungalow we had rented. The room was quite clean, with an ensuite, but had no air conditioning and no hot water -- the planes overhead were the least of our worries! We had dinner at the restaurant on site (our first real Italian pizzas)and headed back to the bungalow to plan our visit to Venice.

June 24
We woke early so as to beat the heat, and caught the shuttle into old Venice. About 70 percent of Venetians do not live in old Venice anymore, as most of it has been bought up by foreigners. After a few quick inquiries at the tourist office we caught the vaporetto (water bus) down the Grand Canal, which is the main water route through Venice. We had not dressed suitably to visit the Basilica of San Marco, so we went into the Doge's Palace. The building and all its rooms were incredibly ornate, as this was where the city's governor (Doge) lived, worked, and doled out justice. After being sentenced in the Palace, criminals would be taken to the prison over the "Bridge of Sighs", from which many of them would have their last ever look at the beauty of Venice, and were said to let out a mournful sigh (giving the bridge its name). Next it was off to a nearby island, Murano, where the traditional glass-blowing takes place. We took in a free glass-blowing demonstration, and after being wowed we visited several of the shops in search of souvenirs (and just to look). By this time the heat of the day had taken its toll, so it was back to the campsite. First, though, we had to fight our way through a throng of other campers just to get seats on the campsite's shuttle bus. We had our first taste of Italian inefficiency at planning transportation -- they seem to have the attitude that these things will just work themselves out -- and they don't. Kevin's sharp elbows (and tongue) saved the day. Once back, we had a cold shower (there was no choice) and spent the evening relaxing in the sweltering heat of the bungalow.

June 25
The next day was also bright and sunny and we headed out even earlier by public transport to avoid the crowd at San Marco. Kevin was getting tired of his farmer tan and wore a nice tank top to beat the heat. However, some of the larger churches are quite strict about dress codes -- including things such as not exposing your shoulders. After waiting in a line in the square, we entered the church and Kevin was told to put on a lovely orange shawl (for 1 euro) made out of some kind of paper -- picture a very large, pumpkin-coloured napkin. He looked very stylish as it went well with his green tank-top. Kevin proficiently tied the loose ends around his back, to avoid having to re-adjust, and we made our way in to the church. San Marco is famous for its many fabulous mosaics, many of which feature gold tiles. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures in the church, but it was quite impressive, and a bit ostentatious. After the Basilica we wandered the streets of Venice on the lookout for interesting sites -- which is the only way to find what you want in the city. Venice is divided into six main areas, with buildings numbered from 1 to about 6000 in no particular order. But we found the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which was decorated mostly by the fabulous artist Tintoretto. We also walked to the Ponte Rialto (one of the 3 bridges), which is a main shopping area for tourists and a nice place to poke around. After more souvenir shopping we headed back down the Grand Canal and saw a wedding party pass by with the bride and groom, their families, friends, and traditional Italian musicians all in separate, large gondolas. The sweltering heat caused us to retreat back to the campsite and their large, cool pool. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun instead of fighting it and then packed for ROME!
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