Sadly, we leave Venice today. It's been an awesome trip! We saw a lot! Our flight today is at 12:30, so we were able to sleep in until about 7:00. We have an 8:30 shuttle to the airport, so we left our luggage outside the room and headed down to breakfast. After a quick breakfast and some good-byes, the "shuttle" turned out to be a water taxi at the canal right outside the door to the hotel. It turns out that water taxi's are not allowed in the inner canals because of the gondolas, but gondolas are not allowed out until 9:30. So before 9:30 we can get door to door service.
It was fitting that our last view of Venice would be a water taxi ride. The boat pulled up to the hotel door and they loaded 6 of us and our luggage into the water taxi and headed off down the canals. The view was great as we had our last look at what is a beautiful city. As we made it out to the lagoon, we encountered what I can only describe as bumper-to-bumper, morning commute traffic. There are defined roadways marked out in the lagoon from
the main island to the airport and the boats fall behind each other much as a normal morning commute with traffic in both directions. Venetians boat on the right. It was a busy morning and boats of all sizes were heading our way. I see now why the water taxis are still made of wood. Because of all the traffic and boat wakes, the lagoon is very choppy. The wooden water taxi is long and narrow to fit in the canals, but the wood is much heaver than fiberglass or something lighter, so the ride was very smooth. We could barely feel most of the waves. Several minutes later, we had arrived at the airport dock and it was just like any other airport parking lot, except in boats! We pulled up to the dock and there was no place to park. The driver pulled up to his spot and beeped his horn, but no one came out to move his boat. He looked around and couldn't find a spot, then one opened up and someone else pulled his boat in first. Finally, he camped out in front of someone who was leaving and slipped into the spot in front
of everyone else. Some things are universal, we could have been in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Orlando, jockeying for a parking spot!
We had to visit the Duty-Free window at the airport to turn in the paperwork to get back our VAT tax on Jody's earrings. It was easy, and customs was easy too, except I forgot we were not going to the US, as we were connecting in Toronto, Canada so I almost got in the wrong customs and security line. When I got to the Air Canada check-in to drop off the bags, there was a really long line and they were not yet open. We had already checked in online and just needed to drop off our bags. I was standing there when an Asian tour group came up and the leader asked an Air Canada guy who came up to the line about baggage drop off she pointed her to a spot where there was no line. I said I needed baggage drop off also , so she said "Why don't you just go in front of us as we are 44 people and it will take a long time". I thanked her ,
dropped of our bags and thanked her again as we were leaving. Thanks to her it only took a few minutes! The flight was long, 9-1/2 hours, but I read my kindle and we were finally there.
Customs in Canada was a breeze also, and after a 4-1/2 hour layover, we were finally on our way to Orlando! By 12:30, we were on the ground, shuttled to the parking lot, loaded up the car, driven home and were sitting in our living room, dead tired. It had been a long flight, almost a full 24 hours since we woke up in Venice yesterday morning. We managed to sleep until 6:30 since we are still on Venice time which would be 12:30 in the afternoon. As I'm writing this blog, drinking regular American coffee from a Keurig, Jody and I both realized that the American coffee is no where near as good as the Italian coffee, but at least you get more of it!
As for the trip, we both thoroughly enjoyed all of it. The itinerary was great, the fellow passengers were great, the pace was perfect for us., Anna and Pancrazio were especially great! After we were
given our evaluation forms, we listened to others as we talked about what they liked or didn't like and found that most everyone was very happy with the tour. There were a few minor complaints about the itinerary, preferring to stay longer in one place and maybe less in another, but they all seemed pretty trivial to us. The 12 day length seemed about perfect, anything shorted would have been too short for the cost of the airfare, and anything more than a few days longer would probably be too tiring. We would definitely do another tour with Insight again.
We were thinking about doing a river cruise next year, but after this trip, we are rethinking that idea. One of the best things about this trip was the hotels and the restaurants (that's actually 2 things). We took all the optional excursions, so that meant we ate all our dinners with the group. In a river cruise, our dinners would be on the boat rather than in town, and we wouldn't get to experience the excitement of each new hotel. After spending 105 days on a motorcycle living out of a suitcase, the packing and unpacking was nothing
for us, especially since all the baggage portage was handled by Insight. So for now, the plan is to pick another Insight tour next year and see if all the Tour Directors are as awesome as Anna!
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