Geo: 45.4345, 12.3384
Sometimes distances in kilometers can fool you. As we checked out our maps of Italy for other places to ride, Guenther realized that the historic city of Venice was only 105 miles to the south. So it was a no-brainer for Debbie and Guenther to venture out to the incomparable "City of Canals". The start of ride down was a nice two lane road, followed by a major toll road for two thirds of the journey, which were traversed in no time.
Understand that a wide three lane toll highway in Italy has a 120 km (about 80 mph) posted speed limit, but like Germany's autobahn that seems to be an advisory that few drivers advise to. So in order to keep up, our old Beemer needed to move along at speeds that would surely get us a ticket on I-80. We had to be very aware of fast movers (Audis, Mercedes, Ferraris, plus a few aggressive Fiats and VWs) in the fast lane ... passing us, at let's just say somewhere north of the century mark. As we neared our destination, the speeds decreased, the signage
was excellent, and we were parked on the seventh floor of a huge parking garage in just under two hours.Right across the busy boulevard from the garage we purchased water bus passes. In just 15 minutes, we were aboard a large craft, one of 150 water buses traversing the Grand Canal and other locations. After 14 "bus" stops in 45 minutes and lots of Deb's picture taking, we disembarked at Plaza San Marco, the busiest place in the world, except maybe Times Square on New Year's Eve or Disneyland before Christmas. The accompanying photos and captions on this page really tell the story of one of our best days on the road. However here are a few highlights.
San Marco Square is bigger than all the National Geographic magazines or travel shows we've all seen. And yes, there are lots of pigeons. We settled in at the outdoor seating of very large and elegant, Cafe Florian restaurant on the shady side of the square. Enjoying
a special light lunch followed by some insanely good ice cream desserts, while a musical quartet serenaded the diners. They played many of the traditional Italian numbers, many old hits sung by Como, Dino, and Sinatra in the 50's and 60's. The most "interesting" time at lunch was an unexpected visit by three dive bombing seagulls, one of which grabbed Deb's sandwich off of her plate in mid-flight after hitting us both in the head with flapping wings. Needless to say that was quite a shock to us and about 100 other customers, as our distinguishly dressed waiters came running to our aid. They said that this happens occasionally, but still a surprise to all. As one waiter said afterwards, "we work on a beach". The staff was very helpful, understanding, and the luncheon was replenished immediately.After our very Mediterranean, two hour lunch, we set out to explore as much of Venice as our legs could handle. Hundreds of shops from Gucci, the finest jewelry and furs, shoes - shoes - shoes, to athletic wear, inexpensive
casual clothes, and naturally more souvenir stands and shops than you could count. The most intriguing were the boutiques chocked full of the ornate / expensive Carnevale masks and costumes.
There were shops, cafes, and churches at every turn. Down alleys just a few feet wide, on bridges crossing over canals, to the many plazas, there was so much to see and do. Plus museums such as Peggy Guggenheim's, currently showing a Sydney Pollock collection, to centuries old churches, cathedrals, monuments, and magnificent architecture, plus some of the world's finest expressions of thousand plus year old artwork and frescoes. I know that this may all sound like some crammed in, crazy tourist trap-ness, but au contrare. There is a beautiful symbiotic, almost calm to the absorbing experience that is Venice. Not loud, not urgent, not hectic, even with an average of over 60,000 visitors a day. Perhaps it's the many shaded, narrow streets (ala Barcelona) or the ever-present water in canals, large and small, the
happy gondoliers, the engaging merchants, or just the peace of so many beautiful churches and cathedrals dedicated to God's work, there is a wonderful sense of peace in a city that is like no other.I'll bet that most every nationality in the world was represented by travelers such as us. All exploring one of the most historic, memorable, and beautiful city's on Earth or water.So after six, all too short, hours, we walked over our final bridge, back to the garage, jumped on the bike and headed back to Cortina and the Dolomites with our heads and hearts filled with unforgettable memories. Plus Debbie's new Venezia stripped shirt from a street vendor, a lovely scarf ( purchased from a delightful middle aged shopkeeper who rides a BMW GS with her husband ), and more picturesque postcards from a souvenir kiosk. Venice ... we'll be back.
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