19 September 2008

Another Culturally Fine Day in Venice

Thursday, 18 September 2008

We were up and at'em this morning, meeting the rest of the gang (they're really here, Kimsey!) for breakfast at 8:15. Well, almost everyone – Bob had his coffee in his stateroom – I think that, like me, Bob is not a morning person. Since we're on the ship, we all ate like they might take our plates away any second and we wouldn't find more food. But we remember what our mothers told us about getting a good breakfast, and we had more Venice to explore. By 9:30, we all (even Bob) disembarked and opted to brave the traffic and walk from the port to Piazzale Roma. We crossed the bridge over the causeway, thankful that there was a pedestrian walkway. Ped xings don't seem to mean much to Italian drivers. Once we got to Piazzale Roma, we started off on the same route that Rex, John, Judy, and I had taken on Tuesday, since Judy and I wanted to purchase some jewelry we had seen that day.

Shortly after starting off, we decided to let the guys off the shopping hook, and determined that we would meet them at the Rialto Bridge at 11:00. For the first half-hour or so, the men were not far from us, but as we kept finding little shops to duck into, they got ahead of us. We had visions of seeing them enjoying a morning glass of vino at one of the many trattoria lining the streets. While Judy and I were both in agreement about where the shop was that we were specifically looking for, we didn't find it where we thought it was. We were definitely following our earlier route, as we recognized many of the shops we had seen before. I was lured into a divine smelling chocolate shop just by the aroma of deep, dark chocolate, and I purchased some macarons (not macaroons), which are a Venetian specialty. They are made of two small circles of meringue with a chocolate layer between them – they look like one inch burgers and taste heavenly! I also got a sheet of dark chocolate bark and a whiskey truffle. I could have just stayed in there all day, breathing in that delicious chocolate. We all stopped in a shop with Murano glass – pendants, earrings, necklaces, etc., and made some purchases, even though this was not the jewelry we were looking for. I got sidetracked by food again, and this time bought a bag of small meringues, although the ones that looked really good were enormous – about the size of a huge bagel! They come in all flavors – vanilla, chocolate, lemon, something pink (haven't tried that one yet), and pistachio. We were starting to get frustrated and more than a little concerned, because we had not yet found what we were looking for, and we were almost to the Rialto market. Of course, it was after 11 already...

At the Rialto market, I went off to find the men while Judy, Emma, and Nancy looked at neckties and scarves. Turns out the men had not bought any ties, or anything, for that matter. They were just waiting patiently for us – no wine in sight. We posed for a group picture on the bridge – I really wish I had enough internet time to post photos with these blog entries, and I don't, so you'll have to wait until we're back home for that. I am grateful that back home, we have 24/7 access to the internet! Since one of our goals for the day was to see the Basilica in bright sunlight and before high tide, we were a little behind schedule, so we followed our per San Marco signs, stopping only once at another Murano glass store in the higher rent district. The shopkeeper there (Alessandro) was so nice (and nice to look at) and he had the kind of necklaces we were looking for. He also had some of the way cool jellyfish in glass like I had seen in Maine this summer, so I got into a long conversation about those with him (turns out he is an artist as well), leaving with his website (
www.artofvenice.com) and contact info (www.alessandrocasson.com) as well as the name of another artist who makes similar pieces.

We stopped off at the little backpack repository, left our bags, and got our cards to take us to the front of the line. At the basilica, the water was not nearly as high as it had been on Tuesday, and we got right in the door. WOW!! What a difference a few hours makes! The golden mosaics were absolutely stunning, glimmering and glittering in the sunlight. We were so glad we had come back – it was truly worth the effort. The water was creeping up and we had to exit the church a different way this time. Out on the square, some young men (tourists) were dancing up a storm and attracting a crowd. They sort of did the 'dancing man' dance (you know, the guy who travels all over the world for free doing the same funny little dance and putting it on YouTube) and it was quite entertaining – they were utterly unself-conscious. At this point, most of the group was ready to head back to the ship for lunch, while Rex, Judy, and I wanted to see the Guggenheim, so we split up. I'm not sure if the others ended up taking a vaporetto down the Grand Canal, but that was their plan when we left them.

Rex, Judy, and I got our bearings and started following the 'alle Accademia' signs, and went in search of modern culture. We walked and walked, finally coming to the third bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, the wooden Accademia Bridge, which was built in 1932. We were so glad we went this way – once we got into the Dorsoduro (means 'hard backbone' and refers to the solid subsoil that this area is built on) sestieri, the streets were wider and the whole area was more open. And the rents looked to be higher! We passed the Gallerie dell' Accademia, and arrived at the Guggenheim a little before one. The museum is housed in Il Palazzo Nonfinito (the Unfinished Palace), which is a palazzo (Palazzo Venier dei Leoni) that was begun in the 18th century, intended to be four stories, and never completed. Peggy Guggenheim purchased it in 1949 for use as a home. There, we saw the Nasher Sculpture Garden, the Gianni Mattoli Collection, lots of strange and interesting modern art (some of which we thought we could have done). There were many Picassos, Calders, Pollacks, pieces by Max Ernst (Peggy Guggenheim's second husband) and more! We especially enjoyed the temporary exhibit, which was “Coming of Age: American Art 1850's to 1950's.” After we had gotten our fill of museum culture, we caught a vaporetto which would take us down the Grand Canal, at least from the Accademia to San Marco. Again, it was fun to be in the center of activity on the water! And, having learned from the day before to check the vaporetti schedule, we were back in time to have a gelato before we needed to catch one for the cruise ship terminal. On the water bus, we met a couple from outside Philly who were on our ship. He's a dentist and a HUGE Duke fan, and they had noticed Rex's “Duke Sports Medicine” shirt, so we talked to them all the way back to the ship. Soon we were on the ship, up in the Lido dining room, and having a very late lunch – I think it was about 3 o'clock before we got aboard! I wasn't sure whether I wanted to eat or sleep most, but since we had to muster at 4:15, I decided to eat now and sleep later.

I pretty much sleepwalked through the muster drill, which lasted way too long (hope we don't have to repeat it for real), and then I crashed until time for dinner. I slept through our bon voyage and missed the sailaway, but Rex and the rest took plenty of pictures for me. We all met for dinner at 7:15, and we sat at a table for ten with a couple of women, Eleanor and Sheila. Eleanor is from Sedona, AZ, so we had lots to talk about! She and Sheila have been friends for years, having met through their ex-husbands. And they are both still friends with Eleanor's ex! I think Sheila is from California. Dinner was yummy, but John was sorry he had only gotten an entree when most of us had gotten one or two (that would be me) other courses. The Youngs, Smarts, and Woodys all went to a show (which is where the Youngs and Smarts had been the night before when we couldn't find them) and Rex and I retired to our cabin so I could do some blogging. And sleeping! All that walking around Venice was exhausting – I can tell I'm getting older!

Bon voyage,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SO glad that you found mom and dad ... and yeah, don't expect dad (Bob) for breakfast! (Especially if it is before 10am ... he needs his beauty sleep, clearly!) Sounds like ya'll are having a great time - Ashlee Smart and I are enjoying keeping up with ya'll!