I look forward to ship-days because it gives you a chance to recover from going full-steam at all the ports. After a week in Spain, Nice, Florence, and Pompeii, a good sleep-in was what I needed. When I got up, I hit the gym with Terah and did an hour long cycle class. I then spent most of the day relaxing, eating, more relaxing and napping. It was just what I needed for my poor feet. We had our first formal night and everybody dressed up in black-tie and fancy dress. We snapped some pretty good photos of the entire family... shots that will go on the mantle for a few years.
Yesterday was the first day in Venice. Venezia, as the Italians call it, was breathtaking from all angles. As we pulled in with our 13 story cruise ship, we were well above the tallest buildings in the city, and could get a great view from above. Our ship literally chugged along slower than I could swim so that we could navigate the narrow pass alongside the city. Once we docked, we hopped in a direct ferry to Saint Marks Square, probably the most famous thing in Venice other than the canals. St. Marks Square has the Doge Palace, several old government buildings, a huge campanile, and of course St. Marks Basilica lining the outside of the L-shaped "square". An on top of almost every square inch of the square are people and pigeons. Thousands of Pigeons. You can buy seed and the first thing we did when we entered the square was purchase some and fed the birds out of our hands (and heads). One of the birds was particularly fond of my earrings haha. We walked around for about an hour, exploring by foot and snapping photos of everything. Even with all the canals, Venice is still very navigable by foot. We met up with the rest of the family around midday and we all went out on a walking tour of the city.
We started off by learning the history behind Venice and St. Marks Square, the we went inside St. Marks Basilica. It was so amazing inside I cannot even describe it. It was so old and the floor was very uneven, due to the sinking of the pylons that held up the church. The entire ceiling was covered in glass mosaic and the floor with marble mosaic patterns in 3-dimensional art. It was pretty small but very impressive. Next up we walked up some side streets and along canals, really taking it all in, up to the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, one of only 3 bridges spanning the Grand Canal. We learned more about the history of Venice, local customs and traditions, artworks, buildings, politics everything. One of the most interesting visual things about Venice is that nothing is level... All the buildings and walkways are supported by millions of wooden pylons drove into the muddy swamp-land below. As everything shifts and settle throughout the last 16 centuries, everything either moved or collapsed as the pylons rose and sank more. It created an interesting look as the already-narrow alleys would taper in at the top, making you feel as if Venice was swallowing you in. After the tour, we went out as a family to a local-favorite restaurant where we had authentic Italian pizza, wine, and good food. Then of course we had to stop for gelato! While purchasing gelato, we heard some Vivaldi, and remembered there was a huge concert playing in to opera house we passed earlier. Lucky for us, it was a hot day in Venice and the windows were all open. We took our gelato and sat on the steps for awhile, listening to masters play the 4 seasons while sitting on the steps. It could not have been any better. On the way back to the water-shuttle we stopped by St Marks one more time to see it in the darks, a sight worth seeing for sure.
This morning, several of us went to Murano via public water-bus. The public transit system is pretty cool, all aquatic and efficient. It wouldn't be right if I came to venice and didn't travel through the canals by boat! Murano island is famous for producing the finest glass art in the world. While there we visited several shops and were even able to visit the factory where we saw glass masters making fine pieces of art by hand. We came back to Venice midday, saw the square once more and did some souvenir shopping. It was a great two days but definitely not long enough. I would recommend at least a week in Venice (if you can afford it)! Next Up: Dubrovnik, Croatia!