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Day 09: August 5th 1999 (Venice, Italy).

Breakfast at 8:15.  No meat or cheese, but plenty of bread and yogurt and coffee and juice.  At 9 we saw a glass-blowing demonstration, and right before our eyes a man made a wine decanter and a small horse from blobs of molten glass – very impressive.  It was also very hot in that furnace room.  We were then paraded through the store where they hoped, duly impressed, we would buy something.  They had amazing stuff, but I was not yet in a buying mood.

After the glass parade, I headed straight for St. Marks Basilica because I had long pants on and it was forecast to be 95 degrees that day.  So I would visit the one place with a dress code and then change into shorts.  Only an hour in line, blissfully in the shade, with a nice view of the square for people watching.  Inside was dark and multiple-domed, with mosaics everywhere.  I climbed to the roof to avoid the crowds, get some air, and see some really old bronze horses.  I took a quick trip back to the hotel and changed.

Next, the Doge’s Palace.  Humongous rooms with lots of paintings (and two big globes), and lots and lots of stairs. Every now and then one of the rooms would be air-conditioned, and I would stand in front of the vents to marvelously cool off.  I drafted an English language tour for much of the visit.  Then the prison, where imagining yourself condemned you cross the bridge of sighs for one last look at Venice, before you get locked up in one of the huge stonewalled cells at the other end.

I had a walking lunch, a calzone and a coke (they added 2 whole ice cubes), bought from a local panini shop.  I took the elevator to the top of the St. Marks Square bell tower and there had a commanding view of all of Venice.  Red roofs, haze, and church towers sprawled below me.  I stayed there awhile in the breeze, but left before the top of the hour to protect my ears.

Finally, the shopping bug hit me (It helped that all the stores had air conditioning).  I bought a small piece of glass in a corner shop on the square.  Made in Murano, the glass-blowing island, it depicted a lounging cat who had recently eaten a fish.  You can still see the fish inside the clear cat’s belly.

I stopped back at the hotel to refresh my touring batteries (the heat was starting to get to me), and then set out across the Accademia’s wooden bridge to a crowd-free, more lived-in area of Venice.  I visited the Frari, a magnificent church with many decorated tombs inside.  I especially liked one sculpted in the shape of a pyramid with a half-open dark door in the center at the bottom.  A line of weary people approached the door, and a sleeping winged lion lay outside.

I then walked to the customhouse, which had a good view of the Venice harbor.  Back to the hotel then, to meet for dinner.

Sandy, Ellen, Bill, Sue and I joined Cindy in a venture across Venice – an infamous Pub-Crawl.  Various pubs serve plates of all kinds of foods, and charge by the plate.  We got lost on the way to the first one, but after winding our way for 20 minutes (and encountering a military policeman with a seriously automatic weapon – who we decided not to ask directions from) we found it.  It turns out that the numbers on the buildings don’t correspond to streets but to blocks.  Anyway, the owner was very friendly, and there was another group of ETBD’ers in there.  I had a plate that included calamari, mussels, fried eggplant and prawns.  I also had a pint of Guinness, and breadsticks of course.

We only went to one more place, for gelati for dessert.  Then hung out at the harbor for awhile watching the boats go by.  Eventually Cindy and I said goodnight to the others and went bar searching.  I somehow convinced her that we had to go to a place that didn’t have tablecloths for the real backdoor experience.  We eventually found a Scottish ale bar with thick wood tables and sat down for a pint, and it was good.

We walked back through a pink lantern-lighted St. Marks Square, as the bands were finishing for the night.  We bought snow cones and listened.  The last song we heard in Venice was Auld Lang Syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Did you know “auld lang syne” is an old Scotch phrase that means “old kindness?”  Well I didn’t either until I looked it up just now.

To bed whenever…  I think it may have been around 1 AM.  Everyone agreed later that we didn’t spend long enough in Venice.  The mystery of romantic things shall never be deciphered, nor I think should it.

     

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

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