Sunday, March 4, 2012

First full day in Venice! (with Mama)

The next day/first day in Venice, we headed out to explore! We had some rough estimates on what we wanted to do.  We knew that there were 3 English led tours at the Doge’s Palace (no I don’t know how to say that), but they don’t post times anywhere but in the museum. So we stepped out into St. Mark’s Square, and wow. The movies don’t lie. It is beautiful. Lots of arches. Venice has apparently a mixed history of architecture...Some Gothic thrown in with Ottoman and a pinch of traditional Catholic. The clock tower looked closed (it seems you Might have been able to do it if you were able to book a tour, but no one was clear on where it was you booked said tours). The rest of it looked amazing!

When we went into Doge’s Palace “housed the fascinating  government of the rich and powerful empire. It also served as the home for the Venetian ruler known as the doge (pronounced as “dohzh”, aka duke). For four centuries (about 1150-1550), this was the most powerful could govern itself without a dominant king, bishop, or tyrant. The doges wanted their palace to reflect the wealth and secular values of the Republic, impresing visitors and serving as a reminder that the Venetians were Number One in Europe.” (All quotes taken from Rick Steve’s Guidebook.) We took the Secret Itineraries guided tour. We got to learn all about Cassanova and the dungeons of Italy. They had one section that allowed water to come in and fill up to the prisoners chest. And this usually happens in winter. And in the summer they are really hot due to the roof design. Also, this was very interesting to me: the government seat was on top of the prison. They were so interconnected.

After the Doge’s Place, we went and took a picture of the “Bridge of Sighs.” Legend has it that as they were sentenced to death/jail for the rest of their life, they were taken over this bridge and sighed that they would never see Venice again. I think this is just part of the romantic ideas, because the views were not that great.  We then grabbed a very very pricey lunch. We were told that we would get charged an extra euro for sitting down. But we thought that it was 1 euro per person. OH no, it is 1 euro per item! So that overpriced tomato and cheese sandwich that was 3 euro- well now it is 4 euro. Lunch cost almost 20 Euro or at least $25....for basically nothing. It was horrible! I mean the food was good but not THAT good.

After the Doge’s Palace we went to St. Mark’s Basilica. It basically looks like a traditional Orthodox church to me. There didn’t appear to be anything that was traditional catholic church.  It was super beautiful. Everything was mosaic. Like EVERYTHING. The walls, the floors, the ceiling. But randomly in the center was an HD big screen TV. I guess you have to get with the new program.

When we walked out of the Basilica, we saw the Correr Museum right across form us. Since it was on our Museum Pass, we decided to go there.  We needed more time than we gave the museum, maybe like at least another 30 minutes or so. However, we got to see most everything. There was this AMAZING exhibit on Armenia. Apparently many Armenians came to Venice way back when, and many Italys/missionaries went to Armenia (“the only Christan country in the caucuses”= their catch phrase, not mine). The Armenians were very influential traders way back when. The rest of the museum had many different exhibits on Italian history and culture.

After the museum we went to find the grocery store. However, our map from the hostel had it in a 5-10 Venitian block radius. Needless to point out, we got lost. But not really. I do have to thank Mama for the innate sense of direction she installed in me by letting me help navigate across the country at age 5. I always got us in the right direction, maybe off by a few blocks, but always near, no matter how many twists and turns we completed. The grocery store we went to was cramped and crowed. But it had delicious store brand chocolate. We decided to cook at home for the next few days. It was yummy pasta and salad. We had balsamic cream, have you heard of this? It is a yummy version of balsamic vinegar. Then sleep. Lots of Sleep.

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