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The Group

 

Day 08: August 4th 1999 (Venice, Italy).

Up at 6:30, eyes are bloodshot again.  Another great breakfast, then off to Italy and Venice.  We drove through the Brenner pass, and got stickers at the tollbooth before it.  Beautiful Rocky Mountains and farmland, and we passed Innsbruck where we could see the ski jump from the Olympics.

We ate a picnic lunch at an Italian rest stop, at an outdoor table near an orchard.  The sandwiches were made by our Austrian hosts, and were chock full of all kinds of good stuff.  It was hot.  I hoped this wasn’t a precursor to the weather in Venice.

On the way to Venice, Don gave us a course in Italian language and culture.  Unfortunately, many people fell asleep during his talking.  I began reading the Diary of Anne Frank.

 

At 3:30 we arrived at the huge parking lot outside of Venice.  No cars are allowed in the city.  Ian handed out room assignments and finally I was doubled up with someone.  The fact that that someone was Ian made it a bit more interesting.

It was hot and humid as we took the boat bus to our hotel near the Accademia.  We passed under the Rialto Bridge and got off at the only wooden bridge that spanned the Grand Canal.  Our hotel was actually a music conservatory, and we got to stay in empty dorm rooms.  Music wafted through the open courtyards.  Many rooms, including mine, had high ceilings and a loft area where one of the occupants would sleep.  The tall windows had shutters that opened outwards, and when I opened mine I scared a black and white cat away who had been sleeping on a stone wall outside.

After we dropped our bags off Don guided us through the maze of streets to St. Marks Square.  The square was huge!  After so many narrow streets, now was an open area 2 football-fields wide.  The Basilica of St. Marks was dwarfed by the square, and its many domes somehow seemed out-of-place compared to the squared off buildings that surrounded it.

 

We had dinner at a small restaurant in a square with a large church.  Wine and pizza.  We then walked back to St. Marks Square and had gelati.  And to cap the night, a gondola cruise through the many canals while the sun set, complete with an accordion player and singing oarsman.  When we reached the Grand Canal all five boats drew abreast, and for a short while we commanded the water.  After the ride, I walked back to the hotel with Sandy and Ellen, and they thanked me for escorting them through the treacherous alleys.  I bid them good night and headed back to the square.

I took a walk around Venice that night, and purposely got lost.  I went to the other side of the Rialto Bridge partly to explore and partly as a blind search for the “American” bar that Don was supposedly visiting, but I was unable to find it.  I was probably becoming a nuisance to him anyway.  Don had shown us how to navigate the streets without a map, and I successfully got back to St. Marks Square with no problem.  I hung out there, listening to the 4 bands playing, and then walked back to the hotel.

To bed at about 11.  I however did not sleep well due to the heat and mosquitoes buzzing in my ears all night.

     

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.

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