Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012 – Venice, Italy – Cloudy - 82F

Distance from Chania to Venice: 840 Nautical Miles

Local Information:  Venice (population 271,000) was established over 1000 years ago on the northeastern coast of Italy. The city sits in a lagoon along the Adriatic Sea and consists of 117 islets and 177 canals.  400 bridges connect the various islets.  Buildings are supported by millions of poles driven into the soft soil.  The city is easily walkable – there are no cars in Venice.  Transportation consists of private boats and water taxis known as Vaporettos.  The Grand Canal is the main waterway in the city.  It is about two miles in length and its shores contain over 100 marble palaces dating back to the 1200s and 1700s.

It’s a cloudy but warm day in Venice.  The sail in was once again picturesque – not narrated this time.

 Venice Grand Canal (Small)

Sail In – Grand Canal

There are some nice ships near the Cruise Terminal including the yacht or luxury passenger ship show below.

Nice Yacht Venice (Small)

We are both on the same tour today - “Doge’s Palace, Gondola Ride, and Glass Factory”.  Since this is Venice, transport from the ship to Piazza San Marco was not by bus but by water shuttle.  The Shuttle (a large boat) pulled right alongside the Silhouette (at the tender launch pad).  Passengers hopped on and we were off.

Silhouette from Shuttle Boat Venice (Small)

Celebrity Silhouette from the Shuttle Boat

The Shuttle Boat afforded a great view of the buildings along the Grand Canal.

Grand Canal bldgs from Shuttle Boat (Small)

View from the Shuttle Boat

Piazza san marco from Shuttle boat (Small)

Piazza San Marco and Doge’s Palace from Shuttle Boat

Earthquakes have hit Venice in the past causing some of the buildings to tilt – the church below is clearly not standing straight.

Leaning tower of Venice (Small)

The Shuttle Boat left us off very close to the Piazza San Marco.  This is probably the mostly crowded part of Venice – wall to wall people.  Everyone is polite and there is no shoving – the traffic flow of people just keeps on moving.

Wall to wall people Venice (Small)

Dense Crowd of Visitors and Locals 

Bridge near Doges Palace (Small)

Bridge and Doge’s Palace

From the Bridge near the Palace, we were able to get a good look at the Ponte de Sospiri (“Bridge of Sighs), which connects the Doge’s Palace and the Old Prisons.  This bridge, built in the 17th century, was crossed by convicted prisoners (who “sighed” at their fate) on their way to imprisonment or execution.  It is the only suspension bridge in Venice.

Bridge of Sighs (Small) 

Bridge of Sighs

The Palace is adjacent to the Basilica.  The Palace, built in the 9th century (and rebuilt after four destructive fires) was the seat of Venetian Government and the home of the Doge.  The Grand Council Chamber is decorated with paintings by the masters. We were not able to take any photos inside the Palace.  We did walk through the Bride of Sighs, which was fascinating (probably not for the prisoners).

Doges Palace 3 (Small)

Doge’s Palace

After touring the inside of the Palace, we entered the magnificent courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.  Statues and columns (all marble I am guessing) made for quite the regal site (below). 

Courtyard Doges Palace (Small)         Courtyard Doges Palace 2 (Small)

Courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale

Ellen and I met up in the Courtyard and were able to get a passenger to take a picture of us in this fabulous architectural environment.

That's us Doges Palace (Small)

Venetian Veterans in the Palazzo Ducale Courtyard

The next stop was the Gondola Pier, where we hopped (six at a time) into the gondolas.  The gondolier was very careful to balance the weight in the boat since the gondola is very low in the water and prone to swaying.  I was positioned in the middle of the front seat facing backward (the main front weight).  The ride took us out into the choppy Grand Canal and then through the narrow canals of Venice near the Piazza San Marco. 

One of the other passengers had some difficulty taking pictures of me so I asked him for the camera back in the picture below.

  Give me the camera (Small)

I shot many of my pictures backwards over my head.  In the picture below, I didn’t have the camera high enough so I caught the top of my cap.

View from the Gondola (Small)

Top of Cap and Canals

Our gondolier (while not wearing the silly standard hat) kept barking orders in Italian to sit down and not change positions.

our gondolier 2 (Small)

Our Genial Gondolier

View from gondola 3 (Small)

The Gondola Ahead of Ours

We saw several hotels with entrances right on the canal.  It has to be a bit tricky to jump from the gondola to the landing and then to transfer your suitcases.  Somehow, they do it all the time.

 hotel entrance on the canal (Small)

Hotel Entrance right on the Canal – High Tide is a Pain

After the gondola took us back to the pier, I asked our guide if he knew where Ellen was.  He said she was ahead of us and already in the Glass Factory.  He took me there and Ellen and I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon getting something to eat and walking around the city.  The Shuttle would be running back to the ship for the rest of the evening so the passengers were on their own at this point.

We found a nice restaurant, grabbed a table outside, and ordered a Pizza Margherita and a Coke Lite (about 10 Euros).  The pizza was really good with lots of fresh tomatoes.  When we got the bill, we found a 6 Euro cover charge added to the bill.  Protesting to the restaurant personnel did not prove successful.  The next time we are in Venice, we will need to avoid restaurants that charge covers.  Lesson learned. 

It was drizzling while we were looking for the restaurant, but while we were eating, the skies opened up and the rain was really coming down.  We hung out at the restaurant until the rain subsided.

really pouring in venice 4 (Small)

Really raining – view from the Restaurant

It was raining so hard that we gave up on walking any further and headed to the Shuttle Boat dock.  We caught the boat and in minutes we were back at the pier.  The shuttle did not take us to the tender deck but instead dropped us off pier side.  We went through security (passport and sea pass) and, after a bit of a walk, were back on board. While we were touring, the Celebrity Solstice arrived and was parked in front of us.

We took advantage of a relatively quiet ship to relax in the Sky Lounge.  From there, we could see the heavy rain as it drenched the Solstice.

Rain in Venice - Solstice (Small)

Celebrity Solstice in the Rain

The rain eased off a bit later in the evening.  No show tonight – everyone is in Venice.  We did have a nice, quiet, dinner in the Grand Cuvee Dining Room and bid our two great waiters adieu.

Venice Harbor at night (Small)

Venice Harbor at Night

During the show last night, I was surprised to find myself in the “Cruise in Review” Video.  I tried to get a screen shot of my brief appearance (with name included) off of a monitor playing the video.  The grainy, blurry, shot below is the best I could do.

Cruise in review video 1 (Small)

We are all packed and are planning to walk off with our luggage.  We have transfers to Marco Polo Airport (and this time around, there is no strike planned).  We don’t have to leave until 9:45 AM so we can have a relaxing breakfast and not rush in the morning.

Pedometer: 7538 steps; 3.57 miles; 369 calories

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