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June 19th 2018
Published: June 19th 2018
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Monday June 18 was my 65thbirthday and I had the pleasure of celebrating the event with my wife in Venice. We spent Monday and Tuesday in Venice the beautiful city of canals and history.

Monday morning, we hit the bus and first headed to Verona, the fabled city of Romeo and Juliette. Sorry to spoil the story but there was no real Romeo and Juliette and therefore the was no balcony from which Romeo wooed the young Juliette.

The story goes that one day the sleepy town of Verona was looking for a way to cash in on the story. So out of the blue they chose a particular house that was near the center plaza and claimed this was the fabled house of the story. The location was perfect, right near the city center, the problem was there was no balcony! So, they found a perfect balcony on another house, took it down and moved it to the new location and presto instant tourist attraction. Leave it to the Italians to figure a way to make a buck.

After the obligatory rubbing of Juliette’s left breast for luck, they have a statue at the foot of the balcony for this purpose, we headed off to see the Verona Coliseum where gladiators practiced their art for the big show in Rome. Verona was the next biggest venue for gladiatorial battels next to Rome, sort of the minor leagues. If you win here, off to Rome. Lose and well, you lose for good.

We enjoyed a little lunch in the plaza and soon found our way back to the bus, after stopping at a dozen shops first. Next stop, Venice.

The plan was to arrive in Venice a little after 4 PM. All the travelers, except for Cathy and I, were going to take a Gondola ride, tour the Grand Canal, then a water taxi to the hotel. Since Cathy and I had done this 4 times already, we decided to stay with the bus and take the large ferry to Lido and our hotel.

Lido is a large breakwater island at the southern end of the Grand Canal. It is filled with posh hotels, shopping venues, and, most importantly, the beach. Our hotel was only 400 yards from the beach so, we dropped off our bags, changed and hit the warm waters of the Adriatic.

The beach was sparsely inhabited. There were some teens and older folk enjoying the late afternoon sun. Cathy is not much for the water, so I walked to the chilly edge and slowly immersed myself in the cooling calm waters. The water took a moment to get used to but once in, it felt great. We stayed about an hour and headed back to clean u and get ready for dinner.

Since it was my birthday, I was offered several drinks and congratulations from the travelers. We sat around outside awhile enjoying the company and the cool evening breeze until it was time to retire and get set for a full day in Venice.

Tuesday, we took a private boat over the Murano Glass factory. Here we were treated to a demonstration of glass blowing that has been perfected over the centuries. The master glass maker spends 10 years as an apprentice, 5 more years as a tradesman and finally less than half of them reach the Master Craftsman level.

All the glass here is hand made and only in the old way. They have not changed the formula for the glass for centuries. They use minerals to make the colors; cobalt for blue, manganese for yellow, gold for red etc. The items they make are amazing and, of course, one of a kind. The prices reflect the quality!

After the glass factory it was back on the boat and on to the famous St. Mark’s square. Probably the second most famous church after the Vatican. Once again, Cathy and I left the group, they were going on the walking tour of Venice proper. We had done this before, so we went off on a shopping and discovery spree down every small ally and street we could find.

We wondered for hours just enjoying the sights and sounds of Venice. We bought some baubles and treasures, had a lite lunch and wondered here and there until it was time to head to the island Burano and our fisherman’s LINNER (combination lunch and dinner).

Burano is a small island about 25 minutes from Venice by water taxi. It is famous for fishing and handmade lace items. Our ride took us around the islands past many churches and, my favorite spot, San Michele the Island of the Dead.

When Napoleon ruled this area, he decreed that the dead could not be buried in Venice, so he set aside San Michele Island and the city’s cemetery. This is supposed t be the most haunted place in all of Italy. Unfortunately, there was no time to visit, but I got a few nice photo’s as we passed by.

We arrived at Burano and walked a bit to our LINNER. This was the highlight meal of the trip. We sat down first to a spread of wines, cold waters and Coke. There was a red and a white wine, natural and water with gas, beer was available upon request.

Our first taste was a spread of red snapper prepared with mayonnaise. This was served over some Italian bread. Next was a risotto with shrimp, squid, fish and a cream sauce. Both were delicious. Our next plate was a spaghetti with a red sauce, perfectly al dente.

This was followed by a salad of greens, tomato and mozzarella cheese. A balsamic vinegar provided zest. Next came a white fish grilled to perfection. After the white fish we were served a whole Sea Bream, head, tail and all! We had to filet it ourselves, but it was a tasty meaty fish with no fishy aftertaste at all. This was followed by fruit, peanut brittle and a cookie which was soaked first in red wine before you ate it. Finally, we had coffee and a shot of Amaretto. If you left hungry you just didn’t try hard enough.

Stuffed to the gills, we walked around Burano and shopped for a while, enjoying the company of the other travelers. All too soon it was time to catch our boat back to the Lido and a much-needed rest. On the short walk back to the hotel, we spied one of a dozen Gelati Shops and we just couldn’t resist a small cup before we rolled into our hotel.

Tomorrow we head off to Milan and then to Lake Maggiore.

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