We arrived at our hotel, thankfully outside of Venice, and learned about flagging down busses. If it is not a major stop, Venice busses won't just stop. You have to hold out your hand to wave them down. The schedule is also more of a suggestion than a rule. We learned that you can't use public transportation and be in a hurry unless you've budgeted wiggle time.
We spent most of our time just wandering around, seeing the sights and learning how to be confused and delighted in the city. We had an excellent dinner at Al Vaporetto. I think it's been our best meal yet.
Our meal ran late, so we walked around Venice at night a bit then watched some distant lightning as we waited for our bus. Our Texas travel buddies just chuckled at our Oregonian enthusiasm for lightning.
Day 2 saw a lot more action. We started the day off by buying Vaporetto/water taxi tickets. I cannot recommend this enough if you're going to Venice on a short time frame! It's a big city and it's tough to get to all the sectors you would like to without using water taxis. They're absurdly expensive point-to-point, but an unlimited pass goes far. The Vaporetto has a video/audio guide and comfortable seats. It floats about Venice, giving you a quick run down of sights along the Grand Canal. I loved being on a boat!
After that, we headed to St. Mark's Square and St. Mark's Basilica. It sure was a popular destination for both people and pigeons! The basilica was enormous and beautiful. It definitely shows the wealth of the Catholic Church.
Our next stop was the DaVinci museum. I am so glad we stopped here; it was a great museum! I knew DaVinci was an incredible artist and inventor, but I had no idea just how wide his thinking was! The museum was quite interactive, featuring many replicas of DaVinci's deisgns and allowed you to experience them firsthand! Flight, mirrors, anatomy, simple machines, and art all factored in to his genius.
This was my favorite work of art featured in the museum. It functions as a lute, but look what happens when you put it on a mirror - awesome!
This was also our last day with our friends, Dennis and Linda. We enjoyed one last meal outside of Venice together then hugged goodbye. It was amazing traveling with them. They were very organized and had a very wonderful perspective! I appreciated them on many levels!
On our final full day, we got stuck doing laundry. I think we sweated the whole time because it was so hot! Laundry finally being completed, we returned to Venice. Our first stop was the Natural History Museum. The first, temporary exhibit featured a complete skeleton of Ouranosaurus Nigeriensis. That was pretty excellent.
The rest? Weird, weird, weird! I cannot say it enough times. There seemed to be an exhibit of human ancestry and, well, a lot of taxidermied creatures. Room after room was filled with stuffed animals and no explanation of what they were or why they were there, even in Italian. Sometimes the human ancestry exhibit seemed to mingle with this one. Occasionally, there were modern boots or fake creatures thrown in. I'm not sure if it was to check to see if you were paying attention. This giant crab was hung upsidedown on the ceiling so you jumped when you looked up. Just odd.
We visited Doge's Palace, which was also very impressive. It was one of those places where you were not permitted to take pictures. It was very large with many paintings. The craftsmanship that went into the wooden frames that attached the paintings to the ceiling and walls was incredible. At one point, there was a fire that destroyed a few rooms. The walls were salvaged and stored then a competition was held to decide the next artist to create the murals. Part of the old walls was on display.
It also detailed the political situation of early Venice, which was amazing. It was controlled by the Doge and the Council of Ten, an extraordinarily powerful body that directed policies for the entire town. Once you knew to look for "CX," you could find their stamp on everything from arms and armor to buildings in Venice. Their reach was clearly long.
We really wanted to see demonstrations at the Murano glass factory, so we took a boat out to the island of Murano. Only groups get to see the museum on the main land. We had no idea the boat ride would be so long and we got to Murano with enough time to see only open restaurants. We walked up to a large piece of glass art then headed back to hop on the boat and bid Venice farewell.
We are finally caught up to Florence, where we are currently staying. Woo hoo! I hope to get one more update before the day is over to bring you fully up to date on our travels. We will be here until the morning of the 11th when we will depart for Rome.