Tuesday, September 20, 2005

September 19, 2005

Yesterday was so bad that I couldn’t bear to write about it then. It started out well enough. We had asked for a wake-up call that did not come, but I just happened to wake up on time and that was a minor bump. When you have to catch a train, you can’t afford to oversleep or be late. The sky was still overcast and spitting from time to time. When we got checked out of our room, we found out that our hotel needed to get us and another group to the train station for the same train and didn’t have enough room to take everyone at the same time. Tracey and I decided to go early so that there would be no conflict. We got to the train station and got lucky that we had arrived early. The train was very full with reserved passengers. The group that was to come after us didn’t make the train.

We got to Brig about an hour before our train to Venice departed. This train wass very crowded, not so much with people, but with baggage. There is very little room for large bags on the trains and many people use the trains for vacation travel. There were bags in the isles, bags in between cars, and bags in the overheads. Again, no big deal. I got Tracey’s bag a space when we got on and found a place for my bag at the first stop. Otherwise, the trip went well and we arrived in Venice/Mestre around 3 o’clock.

We checked in, put our bags down and booked it into Venice. That is where things turned south. When we went out we started getting wet. At this point I had been in Europe for a full week and had yet to see a sunny day. This sucked. We got to Venice and found a nice pizza place. After that we headed south through town toward St. Marks Square. It was starting to rain harder, but we soldiered on, winding our way through the narrow streets and over the cannels. It was when we made it that far and decided to head back is where the trouble really started.

Because it was raining, we decided to leave the book with the street map in the room. Night had settled in and, it being Sunday, almost nothing was open. I had nothing to navigate by. No map, no sun, no stars, and no one to ask where they keep the train station. And is started raining harder. Long story short, we wandered around town for about an hour (seemed like 5) and asked for directions to the stationi 5 or 6 times. By the time we get to the station I feel like a kid who is missing Christmas. My whole vacation is being rained out and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. First no Matterhorn and now this. YUCK (and I didn’t take a single picture all day). To be fair, I must mention that Tracey’s attitude never wavered. She never once complained and always believed that the weather would clear up.

We get on what we think is the next train back to Mestre and our hotel and it doesn’t leave for 40 minutes. The entire trip back to the hotel from the time we started heading that way took something like 3 hours.

That is the bad news. The good news is that Tracey was right about the weather. The weather was mostly overcast with a blue patch or two. Our objective was to tour the area around St. Mark’s Square. We took the number 1 water bus down the Grand Cannel to the Academia and walk to St. Marks. That went like clock work. We arrive at the square to see people feeding the pidgins and getting pidgins and more all over them (see picture). I also found out that my wife had better sense that to get involved in that mess.

The line into the Basilica di San Marco was quite long and we had to step over what looked like a long low stage to get to the line. I guess it took 30-45 minutes to get inside. Thank goodness that it was not raining. Once inside we were seriously impressed. The entire place was decorated in gold mosaics and historic works of art. The highlights of this visit was the burial place of St. Mark who’s body had been stolen from Alexandria Egypt in the 7th century. He is the patron saint of Venice and his lion is everywhere. There was a room where they display several dozen relics from various saints. If you know enough about Catholicism to know what I am talking about, you understand that this can be moving in more way that one.

As we are leaving the basilica, we notice that the front room of the historic church is under about 6 inches of water. We continue outside and see that most of the square is under water. The water is coming up through he storm drains. So that is what that low stage thing is for, it is the line to get in and the only dry escape getting out.

Next, we took the tour of the Doge’s Palace. It was long and extremely impressive. There were pretty serious about not letting guests take pictures, so I didn’t get many. J The rooms are some of the most incredible spaces that I have ever seen. They must have made a show of the power of Venice to visitors in the 15th and 16th centuries as well. We got to cross the bridge of sighs and tour the old prison. By now, the sky was almost cloudless and the temperature was perfect.
We also toured the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.and it’s art works by Titian and Tintoretto. We stopped on the way out of town and had a nice spaghetti dinner in a channel side table. We go back to the hotel without incident and we are not resting and planning tomorrow. Pray for good weather.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the picture with the pigeons! That would be awesome to have all those birds flock to you.