San Marcos Square in Venice
San Marcos Square in Venice
***I have to apologize for the delay, again, but the hostel's WiFi has been down. I'm posting this one and the next from Barcelona, Spain.
With another reasonably early start, we bought a 3-person, one-hour ticket to get to the main island of Venice. So far, that has been the only bummer, having to pay for each trip between the hostel on Guidecca Island and Venice proper. You can pay 6.50 Euros for an hour (which would seldom allow you more than one trip), or you can buy a 12-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, etc. pass that lets you go wherever, whenever for that period of time. Since we were doing the Muran/Buran/Torcello Tour, we just bought single-trip tickets. Arriving on Venice, we strolled around St. Marcos Square, but since we already had a tour booked for 2:30pm and the lines to get into either the Doges Palace or Basilica San Marcos were very long, we just kept strolling. There are souvenir, clothing, glassware, jewelry, etc. shops everywhere, along with a mix of Cafes, Bars, and Tratorrias to eat at. We ate lunch at a little cafe across from the Albergo San Zuatin (I tink). We all had sandwiches, more or less.
One end of the Doges Palace
Alexis got one of the larger foccacia types with zucchini and stuff, Manoli got a smaller one on a soft bun, and I had two half sandwiches on soft bread, one of shrimps and cheese and the other of mushrooms and cheese. All were pretty good and not expensive at 2.50 Euros to 3 Euros each. We continued our stolling after lunch and ended up near the train station before it started getting close to time for our tour. Although there are a lot of signs around pointing the waqy to San Marcos, Rialto, etc. there are also hundreds and hundreds of streets and alleys, all laid out without any organization to them. This is all leading up to the fact that we had to scramble to find our way back to the pier for our tour, in time. Along the way, Manoli and Alexis both found pins from Venice to add to their collection, and I found a charm for mine. I had originally thought of getting the famous winged lion of Venice charm, but the only ones were like 25 Euros or more, so I ended up getting a cute little gondola charm for 6 Euros.
Alexis in front of the exit from the Doges Palace
arrived at the ticket office for the tour, Alilaguna, swapped the printed voucher for actuall boarding tickets, and found the boarding spot. We were a bit early, so we had to wait. The boat was pretty much like the regular vaporetto/water busses, but maybe a bit larger. When we pulled away from the pier, the boat was almost completely full, with probably about 100 people. The English-speaking guide (who also announced everything in French, German, Spanish, and Italian!) pointed some things out to us on our way the first stop in Murano. Murano is world famous for their hand-blown glassware. We pulled in right in front of the Vetreria Ducale, a glass-making shop in Murano. We were ushered in for a demonstration, but apparently we were a bit larger group than normal, so we overflowed the "reviewing stand" a bit, with some folks having to cross in front rather close to the very hot furnace. The shop's guide then proceeded to describe what a couple of master glass craftsmen were doing. The first craftsman up made a very pretty and unique vase right in front of our eyes. First heating it up in the furnace, then blowing and shaping it
Doges Palace 2
The side of the Doges Palace
on a work table. It looked pretty cool quite soon, with all the neat colors, but then after he went back to the furnace, it brought it back out and did some cool stuff to the narrow end, making it stretch out and then curl around like a hook or flower stem. Neat! Next, we watched another craftsman make an animal from solid glass. Bit by bit, tweaking and pulling in differnet places, a really pretty stallion was formed in a rearing position and all. It was amazing how easily he took a blob of molten glass and turned it into something so beautiful. When the demonstration was over, he was sure to mention that their gift shop had these items and a lot more for sale. We browsed around the shop a bit, finding any number of things we'd like, at very reasonable prices, for the most part (although a very large glass pair of dolphins was selling for 6,000 Euros!), but we were unsure if we could trust bringing anything back with us. We're thinking about returning tomorrow, so we'll see.
We reboarded our boat around 3:40 for the next leg of our trip to Burano, where
San Marco Basilica
The Basilica San Marco
they are world famous for their hand made lace items. After a fairly short trip to the island (all three places on the trip were separate islands), we were led to a lace shop where several ladies were happy to explain what they did and how much everything costs. Most of the items were beautiful, but quite expensive, with tablecloths starting around 100 Euros. There was an older Italian woman making lace figures near the stairs and the painstaking process was hard to imagine anyone doing, much less someone her age. Manoli and Alexis both ended up buying very pretty lace scarfs at about 15 Euros each. Afterwards, we looked in a couple of other shops, I grabbed a gelato, then we got back on the boat around 4:30pm for the final leg of the tour to the small island of Torcello, the oldest of the islands of Venice and now mostly inhabited by fishermen and some business folks with restaurants and souvenir shops. The island was fairly interesting, but of a very different nature than the first two. At 5:30, we hopped back on the boat to return to Venice proper.
All in all, the tour lasted almost
Alexis and the bridge
Alexis posing on a bridge of the Grand Canal in Venice
4 hours and was very interesting and well worth the money. Originally, Manoli had planned on going back near the train station where they had a very large supermarket with all sorts of fruit, meats, and cheeses, to buy an assortment of stuff to bring back with us to the hostel for dinner. Instead, Alexis remembered they offered some inexpensive food in the hostel (I'm assuming she wasn't looking forward to the hike to the supermarket and back), so we took then next vaporetto back to the hostel. Alexis ordered a pizzole (a very large slice of toast with pizza ingredients on it), Manoli ordered a very large bruschietta with tomatoes and stuff, and I had a big plate of spaghetti al'amatraciana. Everything was very good and inexpensive. I even finished my big plate of pasta. After dinner, it was down time and time for me to write this and pick photos. Tomorrow we plan on buying three 24-hour transit passes so we can go around a lot of places, and/or even return to Murano or Burano for some more shopping. Hopefully, if we buy the passes late enough, we can use them to get to the airport the next
Hard Rock Cafe, Venice Style
A display of pins in the Hard Rock cafe
morning for our flight to Barcelona. We are also going to consider whether we want to take the time or spend the money to go into the Doges Palace and the Basilica San Marcos.
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