Venice & Lido Island

Trip Start May 25, 2008
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Trip End Jul 04, 2008


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

It seems we are sorry to leave just about everywhere we stay!!  Left lovely Innsbruck, driving over the border into Italy via beautiful, steep mountains on both sides...yet another feast of scenery!

After a morning tea stop, we ended up driving across the massive causeway to the Tronchetta docks at Venezia! A water taxi was pre-arranged by Trafalgar so all we had to do was board, sit down & take off...the water in the main canal may look flat enough, but with nice, cooling breezes blowing, it was still a little up & down in patches.....I couldn't stand to be cooped up below decks looking thru windows so I ended up above decks near the skipper, taking ridiculous numbers of photos of all that we saw (again).
Our destination at St Marks Square soon loomed in the distance....once finally there (some great skills demonstrated by all the various vessel captains, with so many boats docking & departing seemingly all at the one time!), we walked more or less as a group through the throngs of tourists already filling the walkway along the waterline between where we docked & St Marks. Gathering under the front portico of the Doges' Palace (1300's) we accepted free time to explore, with an agreed meeting time after lunch...as soon as we completed a small familiarisation walk around St Mark's Square, including a short demonstration of glass-blowing as they have done it for centuries....quite something to see!
What a strange but beautiful place Venice is.
The architecture, the fact that no vehicular traffic exists other than on water, the canals everywhere, the gelato!!  St Mark's Square is a focal point of course, home to the Basilica San Marco (1094), and Torre Dell' Orologio (clock - 1496), but we also got a great view of the "Bridge of Sighs" off the side of the Doges' Palace. We blundered thru Campo San Bartolomeo, where a statue of the playwright, Carlo Goldini, stands above the tourist crowds. We walked aimlessly thru narrow 'streets' between aging buildings at every turn.....never did it seem dubious....small shoppes everywhere!
Once fed and rested (very hot day, especially in the sun), we all met for the long-awaited Gondola Serenade ride thru the many canals which make up the hub of the place...what a thrill! 5 x gondolas took us all in 'convoy' with an elderly gent singing loudly from the bow of one of the lead vessels.....his voice echoed thru the quiet canals, while we all drank Champagne and toasted one another!
Once the gondola ride got us back to the main area off to one side of St Marks Square, another water taxi was waiting to transport us all to Lido Island, an 11 mile long "sandbar" not far from the main island. Our lodgings for the evening, the stately Hotel Des Bains, has a history dating back to 1900 itself. Royalty, poets, writers & celebrities have all enjoyed the hospitality of this beautiful old establishment. Yes, the floors creaked in places, and we noticed the lights/electricity flickering a few times here & there, but the magnificent full-length front verandah, the wooden stairway, the high, high ceilings throughout the entire building, the floor to ceiling windows in each room, the ornate cornices, the dining room with chandeliers, the rear courtyard complete with statues & columns, the ballroom, etc all made for a wonderful setting you might expect in an old 1920's movie! We were very pleased we were part of a Trafalgar tour group, as the 'rack rates' on the rear of our room entrance door quoted many hundreds of euros per person, per night!! Judging by the Porsches & Maserati's parked out front, someone can afford it!!
A very nice 3 course meal was served to the group in the formal dining room, which seemed to be enjoyed by all....massive & supportive bed beckoned after another engrossing day (we were becoming conditioned by now though). Hard to believe we are actually in Venice!!?? What a buzz!
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