Monday, April 1, 1996 Venice, Italy
Up about 8:30 am, Jim ate an early breakfast and then went for a walk while Barbara and I ate a later breakfast. Barbara hadn’t slept too well…up until 2 am due mostly to the strong coffee last night and also she’d gotten soap in her contact lens in the shower. She had a very small shower that was almost impossible to turn around in! By 10:30 am we were all packed and ready to go, it took a while for the car to be delivered. The driver had smoked in the car and we had to air it out.
On the road finally, we reached the Autostrassa rather quickly and headed towards Venice. We went back over the same mountains we’d come in on from Verona, but at Bologna we turned east and went to Venice. Missed our first turn off and had to go off the Autostrassa and turn around about five miles down the road. They don’t have very many off ramps. Stopped at a rest area and purchased some water and candy bars. We ate beef jerky and crackers for lunch in the car as we drove. Arriving in the area, we went to an information station but it was closed. The second one we found was open but it didn’t know anything about a Laundromat and the map they gave us was in Italian. But she did tell us where to park, to take the number one water bus and to get off at number 17 which was the closest to our hotel.
It was raining and we had to walk several blocks pulling our luggage…thank the good lord for wheels! We got on the water bus and headed in. A very sophisticated woman approached us on the bus and asked if we were from Florida. She’d spotted our Century 21 luggage tags and remembered a very large Century 21 office in Fort Lauderdale where she was originally from. We had a great conversation with her. She has been here about a year and had been in Egypt before that. She teaches English. Because of the education requirements in Italy, she teaches for Corporations. Told us about restaurants and places to go while we are in Venice.
The water taxi was fun, we used Bus #1. It stops everywhere...definitely the milk run. But it gave us a great overview of the Grand Canal. Our hotel is The Gabrielli Sandwirth in Venezia. It is on the Grand Canal and our rooms overlook the Canal. Which means that we will have the noise of the boats clanging and bumping through the night, but we feel that the view is worth the noise. We have a view of at least three major churches and several islands. We walked all over the area, went through St. Mark's Cathedral, the gold gilding is beautiful but the paintings are very faded. The floor is marble and sinking in some areas. To keep the tourists quite you hear the chanting of a monk throughout the walk through the church.
While walking and window shopping we went into a jewelry store and got him to bring out some gold chains for our crystals from Germany. Barbara negotiated a great deal since we were purchasing seven of the chains. We made a quick trip back to the hotel for the WC and warmer clothes. The rain seems to be getting heavier. Barbara and I put the pendants on the chains back at the hotel. They really look lovely and hopefully all of the girls will love them as much as we do. Barbara also discovered she forgotten to get out a new supply of her Nicotine gum. Will try to get some tomorrow at a pharmacy. Or we may have to go back to the car to pick some up for her. Then we ate dinner at a lovely restaurant called Alfredo Alfredo.
Our dinner was one of the best meals we’ve had in Italy. After dinner we went walking again through St. Mark’s square. Nearly empty due to the rain. This afternoon it had been filled with people feeding the many pigeons in the square. Barbara says during the summer it is filled wall to wall with people sitting on chairs and there is always music playing by a live orchestra. We found many of the five star hotels as we walked. Found the American Express office and walked over many footbridges. Saw about four gondoliers together this afternoon in the canal. There was even one with a musician on board. We really enjoyed seeing them, very romantic. But sounds like it’s very expensive so probably will not be going on one. One quoted us 100,000 lire for a ride for three people for about fifteen minutes.
Continuing our walk we found Harry’s Bar which was made famous by Hemingway. Back through St. Mark’s Square they had a piano playing outside even though it was raining even harder than before. Very romantic, but we were in need of a WC by then, so we hurried home. Our room is great, it has two beds in one room and a single in a second room. We share the TV and one bathroom. My bed is extra firm due to a board between the mattress & springs. We need to get more water as we’re told that we should even brush our teeth with bottled water. (What a sales pitch!...There's nothing wrong with the water in Europe!) About midnight we called it an evening.