Saturday, September 17, 2011


I'm sitting here in Venesque France, it's just a wonderful morning.  Not too hot yet, and I'm trying to remember all the things we did in Venice last week.  It seems a long time ago, I guess that means this vacation has done what it was supposed too :-).

We were supposed to take the train from Ravenna to Venice at 11:30 am. But on Monday when I went to double check the train time, I found out that the train crews were going on strike. I've never really understood the scheduled strikes in Italy and France, but there has been at least one each time I've made a trip.
Anyway, the trains were going to be on strike Tue from 9 am to 5 pm, so our only train option was a 6:20 am. YUCK. I did a little searching on line and found a couple of bus transfer companies, but they were pretty expensive.  They really stick it too the cruise ship passengers who rely on these transfers. Then I talked to the front desk at our hotel. The lady working there found us an 8 passenger van that picked us up at 10:00 am and was 1/2 the cost of the other companies.  So keep that in mind when you are traveling.  I love booking things on line but the locals can often find you a better deal at the last minute.

I was a little worried about all our luggage, but it all fit. And the van had a/c and was very comfortable. It was a 2 hour trip from Ravenna to Venice which was a lot shorter than taking the train and changing in Bologna.  Venice was beautiful & sunny when we arrived.  We got dropped off in the bus parking lot and had to carry out luggage over the bridge and down to the train station plaza.  But what a wonderful sight, sunny skies & the Grand Canal.  And it was busy, people & boats every where.  We were a couple of hours early but our rooms were ready so we checked in and went to have lunch.  It was really HOT and a bit muggy so we didn't search too hard.  Ended up at a rather expensive and not so good place, but it worked out.  We did have some better meals later in our trip.

Wed morning we all met in the hotel breakfast room.  It was very small and the coffee was pretty bad, so we ended up going to Restaurant Brek the next few mornings.  Though we liked the location of Hotel Florida and the rooms were just fine.  Anyway, we had a guide set up for Wed morning.  Caterina met us at the hotel a 9:30 am and we wandered through the back streets, over to the Rialto Market.  (we found her using out Rick Steves guide to Venice :-).

We learned a lot about Venice from her, and we ended up at St. Marks.  She took us inside, it was nice to skip the long line and showed us around.  The mosaics inside are really beautiful, all 90,000 sq feet of them.  Mom didn't feel like walking but she and Mary took the Vapparetto over to St. Marks and met us there. 
After St. Marks we walked over to a small square by the hospital and had a nice long lunch.  Then we all split up and went different places. 

Thursday morning we got up and met at Brek for breakfast.  Then we bought Vapparetto passes and all went out to Murano.  I really like all the glass shops and Murano is a lot quieter than Venice.  It was a little overcast but muggy & hot.  We spent the day at Murano and all went back to Venice at different times.  But we met for dinner and had to say good-bye to Sachiko.  She was going back to Seattle early on Friday morning. 

Friday we all did different things.  I ended up going back to Murano with Linda and Lowry.  We got to see 2 glass blowing demonstrations which were very interesting.  Then after lunch I wandered around the between the train station & St. Marks, just looking around.  Linda had a nap, she has a bad cold.  Lowry got over to the art museum and got some amazing pictures.
Saturday morning we had an early flight from Marco Polo to Lyon with Easy Jet.  We ended up having a porter meet us at the hotel at 5:30 am and take us to meet a taxi van on the other side of the train station.  It was a fairly quick but very expensive taxi ride to the airport.  We'd tried to set up a water taxi but couldn't get anyone to commit to picking us up that early so we ended up in the van instead.

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