July 27 – Off the cruise ship and into Venice
We were off the ship before 10 and weren’t scheduled to check into our apartment until 12, which gave us plenty of time to get there (i.e. get lost on the way). We took a water bus from the port to St. Mark’s Square and twisted through a series of streets and canals until we found Campo Manin, a main square by our apartment where we were to meet our contact. As it turns out, we managed to get there by 10:30, so we had some time to kill. We were going to sit on the shady side of the large statue in the center of the square, but the best spot was already occupied by a filthy looking sleeping man. We opted for a nice spot next to a bank where we were able to watch people wander by with large maps in their hands, stopping to examine them, going a few more steps, stopping, turning the maps over. The layout of the city makes it very easy to get lost. At one point, Jenny got up to go find a bathroom, which turned into a 45 minute tour of the city…
A little before noon, a tan woman approached us and introduced herself as Francesca, a friend of our host. She guided us down a couple of side streets to the apartment and showed us how everything worked. The place itself was small, but had everything needed for a few nights in the city. The biggest bonus was that it had a window overlooking a small but popular canal that was regularly crossed by gondoliers. From 10am to just after sunset you would hear music slowly passing by. Vocal soloists, guitars, accordions, and other combinations that all managed to sound really good. Some distance away from our window was a bridge, so we were able to take fun pictures like this.
We went out and found a grocery store, did some shopping, and more or less spent the rest of the day getting caught up with writing, email, and seeing what happened in the world during our eight internet-less days on the cruise.
July 28 – Walking through the city
We spent most of the day just walking. We crissed and crossed our way through more streets and across more tiny canal bridges than we could name. Through countless little squares with their now unused central wells. Through crumbly brick passageways lit up by green light reflected off the water. Every turn offers another picture-worthy view that makes for very slow going.
We took a break in the afternoon to cool off and relax. In the evening we went back out to find some dinner. We walked through St. Marks Square, a large open area bordered on one end by a cathedral and the former palace, and on the other three sides by buildings now housing museums. Like the other major squares of Europe, it was full of tourists and those people catering to tourists. Jenny had a fantastic moment where a man approached her trying to hand her (sell her) a rose, and she matter-of-factly said “Nope!” The change in expression on his face was priceless. Needless to say, our tolerance for people trying to sell us junk is rather low after a couple months of it.
We went on to find a restaurant that had inside seating and air conditioning. Jenny ordered a spritz, which was recommended by Francesca as what the Venetians drink, and was a nasty bitter drink that made us not want to be Venetian at all. After some pizza and lasagna we made our way back to get some sleep.
July 29th – Sweet, refreshing rain!
We had planned to get up early to go to the palace and other museums around the square, but “early” doesn’t seem to happen unless we have a train to catch. The line for the palace was way too long to be worth the wait (plus, Steve had already been there and Jenny didn’t really care) so instead we opted to take the elevator up the campanelle, the bell tower overlooking St. Mark’s Square. We got into the building just as rain came in and sent crowds fleeing for cover. The rain was a very welcome sight, though, because it helped cool off a day that was originally predicted to hit 102.
Even with intense winds blowing rain all over us, the bell tower offered some good views of the city.
We made pasta at the apartment for dinner and went back out for a little while at sunset.
We left the Rialto Bridge just as the rain really started coming down and had one last, very wet, stroll through the streets before making it back to the apartment.
The next day – onward to Florence!