Our lovely hostess here at the hotel provided a wonderful breakfast full of stuff croissants, muesli, and even hard boiled eggs (protein is hard to get @ hotel breakfasts). She even put out snacks for us to take to Venice like fruit and some sort of European Twinkie. It was a good start to the morning.
We took a bus drive with our guide to the northern edge of the island of Lido to catch a ferry that took us to the port at San Marco. It was a pretty crowded ride so we didn't get to take any photos on the way. Besides... it was a chilly morning here in Venice.
As soon as we disembarked from the ferry our tour began. The first stop on the list was San Marco square where we were given a brief rundown of the history of Venice. Venice was founded due not only to is proximity to great fishing and trade routes but also because it was extremely difficult to take a fortified island in the 12th century. How they built on the islands is also fascinating since the island themselves are not solid but more like mud islands. They drove giant wooden piles into the soft soil and then built on top of those. The whole island is basically built on a buck of over sized toothpicks, which over time, have petrified. Cool eh?
Next stop was the Ponte dei Sospiri or The Bridge of Sighs. We got to see a very small bit of the bridge from the outside as they are currently restoring the bridge and the structures around it. Later on in the tour we get to cross over it. How it got it's name is because this enclosed bridge connected the Dodge's (Duke's) Palace to the prison, and more specifically, the prison interrogation rooms. So, as a prisoner you would get you last look of freedom through the central barred window of the bridge and 'sigh'. Depressing neh?
Next was the Basilica di San Marco a Venzia or the Saint Mark's Basilica. It is right next door to the Dodges Palace and was used as the official church of the Dodge. It was used more for celebrations of the Venice state than for religious ceremonies. It was gigantic and absolutely gorgeous. It showed the wealth and power of the Venetians. We have some shots of the outside but, since it is a working cathedral today, we were asked not to take pictures inside. Since Mr. Ort is a mean old stickler for following rules we have nothing of the inside for you. Grumpy old man!
Next we took a long and extended tour of the Dodge's Palace. Now, the girls both big and small probably would have liked an 'express' tour of the the palace while Mr. Ort drooled at all the endless history, facts, and figures. The girls have decided that Mr. Ort is officially a nerd. (Thanks ladies) We got to see the golden staircase, the council chambers, the senate's chambers, the room of the Council of Ten (the secret police of Venice. If the CIA and the FBI had a baby), the Bridge of Sighs from the inside, the prison next door, and so much more. There is so much about this main building of government that you are just going to have to do some research on your own or better yet go there yourself!
After the tour of the palace we got to see the St. Mark's clock tower in action. It is a big old clock tower that rings at noon. It has two figures (moors) who ring the bell telling you when it is ten till noon and noon sharp. It was built in 1496-99 and the mechanisms still work. Wow. Most of us have a watch we bought two years ago that putted out on us already.
Next was the glass factory. We got to see a demonstration of how Venetian glass blowers made some of the most beautiful and most durable glass in the world. They were making this glass back in the 13th century which is still some of the strongest and most durable glass in the world. Once more Mr. Ort was enthralled by the history and artistry involved in the making of the glass. The girls were just happy to be warm and cozy next to the kiln.
This ended our official tour. We exchanged some currency, bought batteries, and headed off away from the San Marco area to find a nice and quiet place to eat. While en route the girls haggled to gondoliers down to €10 a lady for a half and hour tour. So, cameras in hand, the ladies set out on the canals of Venice while the adults went and sampled some local foods and enjoyed the short reprieve.
After the gondolas we had lunch where Mr. Ort saw a waiter who looked just like his friend Angelo hence the random picture you will see. After lunch the girls were allowed some free time (with rules about staying together, meeting the adults and certain intervals) and headed out to shop and explore. Mr. Ort and Mrs. Reinhardt simply did their best to get lost in the narrow streets and alleys of Venice. A few hours later the group all met up at San Marco's and headed back to the hotel. Eventually, (had to do some less touristy shopping on Lido) we headed back to the hotel to pack and sleep. Tomorrow our LONG journey to Roma.
Waiting for the bus.
A small piece of the Bridge of Sighs. All the blue is hiding the scaffolding.
The courtyard inside the Dodge's Palace.
The girls with our guide.
The Golden Staircase.
From the bottom looking up.
From the bottom looking down. From this point on we are not allowed to take pictures of the Dodg'es Palace. Sorry:(
The clocktower of course.
Saint Mark's Basilica. Sorry I don't have a wider angle lens. Next year perhaps.
At the glass blowing shop.
From a blob of glass to a pretty vase.
Another blob of molten glass.
Mr. Ort being rude to Mariana no doubt.
All aboard the gondolas!
He is thinking "I am doing this for €10 a piece?"
Hmmm. I don't know about the shades.
Mr. Ort's pretty ladies.
What are you two up to?
Just one of many wonderful courtyards.
Posed or not posed?
Angelo! What are you doing in Venice?
"If you take a picture of me I'm gonna take this gelato and....."
"No worries mom and dad. We are spending your money wisely."
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