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Venice Trip Report

Old Nov 25th, 2006, 04:05 PM
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Venice Trip Report

We are back; arrived home on 11/16. Here's what I have so far. Hope it helps some folks,like I received so much help.

On 10/25/06, we happily flew from Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. to Venice (thru Philly) on U.S. Air. We left Venice on 11/2/06 via train to Rome. We left Rome on 11/16/06. There were 3 of us, myself (Julie), my husband Don, our adult son Tim. The 3 of us took a 12 day Globus tour of Italy in October 2005 & decided that we wanted to see more of Venice & Rome. Don & I are in our 60’s & retired; Tim in his 40’s. I am posting my trip report of Venice separately because I do not know if I will get the Rome report finished. If I do, I will post it under a Rome Trip Report heading. I am verbose – sorry. So my trip review may be too long for some of you; I totally understand.

We rented apartments in Venice & Rome. The Venice apartment is owned by the owners of the Hotel Guerrato. The apartment is called, Piccolo Guerrato. We paid E170 cash per night. It had 1 bedroom, 1 bath. Two twin beds were in the kitchen area. It is located between the Rialto Bridge & San Marco; closer to San Marco. It was clean, safe, & no bugs. No TV. No phone, which meant we could not call for help in case of a fire or medical emergency & could not call the hotel for assistance – we did not like this & did not think to ask before booking – just assumed we would have a phone. Maid service is every 3 days. No wash cloths, but clean towels for every day. The hotel owner did not provide any tourist help to us (told us to go by our Rick Steves’ book). He also refused us the hotel’s comp breakfast, even though the hotel/apartment website said it was included, & I showed him a copy of such. We decided that we prefer hotels to apartments, mostly for the presence of front desk staff. We would rate this apartment about a 3 out of 5 stars. I did a complete review on tripadivisor.com.

Before beginning, I’ll take the opportunity to thank everyone on Fodors. Without all the info this site provides, our planning would have been a madhouse! Thank you so much. I’ll begin at the

VENICE AIRPORT, 10/26/06, 7:30 a.m. – Ahhh, Venice; what we had dreamed of for months! Well, not quite; still in the airport – must get thru the “travel stuff” before we can enjoy the magic of Venice. The airport had been “fogged” in until we arrived; our timing was perfect. From the gate we followed the signs (in English also) to “baggage claim” & that route lead directly thru Customs. Since we were in the first group from the plane, there was not a line at Customs. We showed our passports & breezed thru. It’s easy from Customs to find the baggage carrousel, which is to the right after exiting Customs. Because the fog diverted other planes, our flight was the only one in this part of the airport. We did not find an ATM along the way or in the baggage claim area. The exit doors were behind us as we stood by the baggage carrousels, but signs indicated that once thru those doors, you could not return. So, we stayed put & happily did not wait long for our bags & wonder of wonders, we all got our bag – all was right with our travel life! We pulled our bags thru the “doors of no return” & entered the “Arrivals Hall” (shops, tickets, etc.). We did an immediate right turn & walked until stopped by the wall, & ran into the ATM (per info from a Fodorite!). We had about E50 left from our trip last year, but thought this was a good opportunity to get this task completed – so many tasks to do before the fun could begin! So, we made our withdrawal & headed for the transportation ticket booth. An immediate left turn after going thru the doors of no return will come upon the transportation ticket booths (lined up & look like horse betting windows). The ticket windows would open in about 15 minutes. We stood in the “ATVO-Public Transport” line, because the other folks standing in line advised us to do so! We told the counter person that we wanted to go to Piazzle Roma & catch the #1 vaporetto to the San Silvestro stop (knew this from our advance planning on our Venice map which included vaporetto #’s & stops & from emailing our hotel). We were advised to & did buy tickets for the blue bus “Venezia Express #1” (online had been advised to take an orange bus – oops, it was blue). Price was E3 per person. We were also advised that we could not buy the vaporetto ticket at this booth in the airport; buy tickets at the vaporetto stop at Piazzle Roma. (vaporetto #82 did not begin operating until 9:30 a.m.)

I'll post this & continue in next post.

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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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The BLUE BUS - The blue bus was our first, but not last, confusing adventure. At the ticket window, we asked for directions to the blue bus & had been advised to exit the doors behind us to the outside of the terminal & turn right at the 2nd traffic lane. Easy enough & we did so – afterall, we are trainable! And indeed, there was a blue bus sitting there with “Venezia” on the bus marquee. But how could we be absolutely sure that it was our blue bus? One must be careful about these things. Another clue, next to the bus, was a blue bus-stop sign on a pole on the sidewalk that read “Venezia 1” (the sign is high above, not eye level; so look up). OK, but can one be really, really sure? The bus driver was not on or around the bus. So, we asked others (all Americans) who were waiting & they were as confused as we were. I’m sure you see a pattern here of us asking everyone we see before we make a decision! But then, why not confirm one’s assumptions? Luckily, our method was successful, because even though we did not determine if it was indeed our blue bus, there was comfort in the knowledge that we were with a group of people in our same situation. Surely, that makes sense! So we & the other confused folks waited for our savior, the bus driver. When he arrived, he proved his superiority by assuring us all that we were at the right place, except a truly confused couple who wanted to go to Mestre; he sent them in the correct direction. He was very pleasant, bless his heart. Everyone pretended competence & loaded their own bags in the underneath storage area & confidently boarded the blue bus. As we ascended the stairs, we were delighted to see a quite spiffy “like new” interior – very nice. Upon boarding, like the well informed travelers that we were (thanks to Fodorites!), we approached the yellow ticket-stamping machine that was located behind the driver’s seat. No matter how many times we attempted to enter our ticket or how we tried turning the ticket to make it work, the darn thing would not stamp. Our mentor, the blue bus driver was still outside; for some reason he never seemed to be where we needed him! After all, so many online posts had “warned” many times – “be sure to stamp your ticket as soon as you board, or….”. Finally, a couple of locals sitting in the front seats advised us that the machine would not work until the engine was started (these locals had been on the bus all along – they had not joined us confused folks on the sidewalk). Of course, we knew that.….wait for the engine. While trying to maintain some dignity, we seated ourselves, but not too far from that ever important yellow machine that held our fate in it’s lifeless stamper. We felt very special when before starting the engine, the driver came down the aisle & collected all the tickets – such personal service; he would stamp them all & return them to us; & all of this for only E3! He then sat down, started the engine, & proceeded to drive us to Piazzle Roma. Oh my gosh! We were on an Italian bus & not only did not have a ticket, but did not have a stamped ticket! Would the police believe us when we cried, “The blue bus driver took them!”? In Italy for about 1 hour & already we had broken the law – is this what is meant by “Ugly Americans”? We whispered about our confiscated tickets, questioned the repercussions, & heard our travel mates doing the same. Finally, about half way to Piazzle Roma we were all so busy visiting with our new travel mates that we forgot all about our dilemma. Just like children, our attention span was short once we were rolling along an Italian road, getting closer to Venice! Can you imagine the panic if the bus had stopped before our destination & boarded a man with a clip board? Oh well, I image the blue bus driver earned some extra money with our unstamped tickets!

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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 04:17 PM
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PIAZZLE ROMA - Now, we figured Piazzle Roma would be a breeze – just look for the water (per Fodorites) – how hard can that be? Wrong – all we saw were buses & concrete; no water in sight. Our bus pulled along side a curb. To the left of us were rows of buses, all pointing in the same direction. How could we possibly go around asking folks, “Where’s the water?” Luckily, one of the people on the bus had been in Piazzle Roma many times & lead us all, like a row of ducklings pulling luggage, to the water! From the bus, we followed the sidewalk around, aiming for the direction in which the buses were pointing. Soon, we arrived at some downward steps – our first of many steps! And, we saw water! We went down the steps & turned left. After turning, the canal was on our right. Also on the right, we came upon a newsstand & went past it. Continuing, on the right was a vaporetto ticket booth. At the ticket booth, we were on our own – our mama duck went his own way! I requested 3 adult tickets on vaporetto #1 to San Silvestro – just like a local! The price was E5 per person. While explaining what I wanted to a man who was not pleased to deal with me & was making it evident, (even though I was smiling), then handing over E20, then asking for & getting directions to our vaporetto dock (naturally was not the one right next to the ticket window), while juggling my map (had it out in case I needed to show our destination to the ticket person) & juggling my coat & bag, & being mindful of the line of locals behind me wishing I would hurry along, I did not get any change (E5). I had only taken a couple of steps from the window when I realized. Quickly, I stepped back in front of the person who had been behind me & advised the ticket person that he had not given me my change. With a disgusted look, he handed over E5 without saying a word – he knew what he had done! This was the only unfriendly local & the only scammer I met in our entire 3 weeks in Italy. Not a great welcome, but everyone else proved this person to be an exception.

We went to the dock indicated by the ticket person & waited for a vaporetto to arrive. When one did, it had #1 on it. Just to be sure (didn’t want to break our pattern), we asked the vaporetto gate person & then hopped on with our bags & at least a million other people! Since most on the vaporetto were locals trying to get to work (by this time it was between 9-9:30 a.m.), we edged our way back into the enclosed area with seats. Knowing that seats were not available, and not caring about seats, our thought was to get our bags out of their way as they boarded. However, we were mindful to position ourselves so that we could watch the bus stops & allow enough time to return to the disembarkation area. To us, this uncomfortable event was just part of traveling; not enjoyable, but “git ‘er done” so the enjoyable part could begin. However, it was exciting that we were in Venice, on a vaporetto, traveling on the Grand Canal – now, that’s not bad! So we dutifully watched for our stop – we knew it was on the right bank of the canal & we noticed the stop names were all clearly & largely painted on the side of each bus stop enclosure. Upon departing from the vaporetto at San Silvestro, we followed the very good directions emailed by the hotel. We checked in & received our apartment keys at the hotel Pensionne Guerrato, which is just a few steps from the market on the San Polo side of the Rialto Bridge. Now, the apartment, Piccolo Guerrato, is on the San Marco side of the Rialto Bridge. So back to the San Silvestro bus stop. Again, catch #1, ask gate person (of course!) to be sure we are headed across the canal to the Rialto stop . Get off at the Rialto stop, thus avoiding hauling luggage over the Rialto Bridge, & follow the very good directions given at the hotel checkin. We encountered 2 bridges with steps along the way. We easily found our apartment but almost couldn’t get our apartment key to work; finally succeeded We really felt that someone should have accompanied us to the apartment, made sure we found it & the key worked, & gave us a “tour” of the apartment – but not to be.

Next, our first day "running around" Venice!

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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 04:57 PM
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I thought I had already posted this portion, but I can't find it. So, here it is again - hope it doesn't post twice!

VENICE our WAY – THURSDAY, 10/26/06 - Excitedly, we dropped our luggage & headed out to explore. We loved Venice on our short visit last year & we were so excited to have the opportunity to explore her at length. The weather was great; clear, sunny, low 70’s – our welcome gift. Our first choice was to visit the San Polo open air market. May seem like a strange choice, but on our last trip we did not have the chance to walk across the Rialto or to visit San Polo. So, this trip would be “Venice our Way!”. Slowly following the “Rialto” signs from our apartment, we enjoyed the sights, smells, & sounds along the way. THE RIALTO BRIDGE is such a wonder – how beautiful the sight – towering over the Grand Canal in such a majestic way. We loved standing at the top & watching the water traffic disappearing under her arch. We enjoyed the shops as we crossed, but were amazed at the shops & crowds at the bottom of the San Polo side. It was a single file crawl in each direction. Too many people for us. So, we bypassed the shops & headed for the market. What a delight to watch the locals buying their food for dinner. Our central Indiana (no large bodies of water) heritage did not prepare us for some of the strange sea creatures that stared back at us. Couldn’t imagine eating some of them! Some of the sights were so foreign to us, which made them all the more enjoyable & gave us a laugh – cute little sparrows perched on & pecking at the grapes, a man polishing tomatoes by spitting on them & rubbing (well, it worked!), fish being dissected on tables at the edge of the walkway, the suckers of octopi (ewwww!), dogs & cats wandering among the food, the beautiful colors of the fruits & veggies (like a beautiful painting). It was amazing. We walked around the surrounding area for a while & then headed for San Marco.

Our plans were to tour St. Marks on the following day. However, we could not resist taking a peek at the square activity. How surprised we were to see much of the square was flooded & raised walkways were in place……and soooo many people. Don’t know why, but the crowds were so much thicker than last year at the same time. But we enjoyed anyway. Went to the waterfront & watched a huge Carnival cruise ship casually moving along on the Grand Canal! Seemed like a twilight zone moment – how could that huge ship navigate such a small body of water. The passengers were lined up along the railings & it was funny to watch them watching us! We continued walking along the waterfront, around the square, & then back to the apartment for a quick nap – we were beat!

After a 1-2 hour nap (we only slept about 1 ½ hour on the plane), we found a grocery store not far from our apartment. After visiting several groceries during our time in Venice, we soon discovered that Venice groceries are not large & do not contain a lot of products. More like small groceries in an American small town. It was fun to check out the items that were foreign to us. We bought some snack foods, including Paprica Prinkles, some cookies, & some sodas. We brought our own instant coffee & some chocolate candy (to prevent chocolate withdrawals!) from home. Except for walking around some of the streets close to San Marco, our first moments in Venice had passed. Since at home we are early to bed & early to rise people, we decided to continue that schedule in Italy. We prefer the quiet mornings & exploring without crowds to the hustle & bustle of the evening time. It seemed strange & wonderful that tomorrow morning we would awake in Venice.

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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 05:07 PM
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FRIDAY, 10/27/06 - The next morning, we were delighted to discover we had not been dreaming; we really were in Venice! We opened the windows & discovered very few people were milling about – what a delight – the city all to ourselves - almost! We did our usual breakfast of cookies & coffee for Tim & Don & cookies & cola for me. By 8 a.m., we headed out with plans to tour ST. MARKS. We had a group tour of the chapel last year, but did not get to visit the Museum, the Golden Alter, the Treasury, or the outside top. However, St. Marks did not open until 9:30 a.m., so we planned to wander around for a while & enjoy the uncrowded morning time. How surprised we were to find most of the water gone from St. Mark’s square! The walkways were still in place, as they remained throughout our visit, but not needed. At 9:45 a.m., we arrived back at St. Marks & found very little line – took about 5 minutes. Lucky me, Fodorites & Rick Steves’ book had warned me not to miss the stairs leading to the Museum & the outside top of the basilica. The narrow stairway is located on the right just before entering the chapel. We were surprised to discover how narrow & steep the stairs are. If you are not in top physical shape, ascend very slowly; just stay to the right & allow others to pass. We decided to visit the museum first before the crowds arrived – was a good idea. During our Museum & outside top visit, there were very few people around – felt like an almost private visit. The Museum has some great displays; definitely worth the time & small fee. We stood for a long time at the balcony railing overlooking the chapel – that was magical. At the end of the museum are stairs; take those for more eye treats! We extremely enjoyed the outside view of St. Marks square. The guidebook advised to allow 1 hour for the basilica tour; we spent that long just in the museum & the outside top! Down the stairs & into the chapel, the Treasury, & the Golden Alter. The mosaic art is unworldly! Imagine the time & talent required. The Treasury has some awesome pieces decorated with gems. Paintings, statues, and buildings are wonderous, but we also like seeing “things” that people used, wore, and owned hundreds of years ago. We were fascinated by the beauty & the history of the items. Talk about gems – the Golden Alter; 15 BIG rubies, 300 emeralds, 1,500 pearls, & assorted other gems! Studying the golden scenes made a great day also! I think paying the small fees for the 3 “extra” spots are well worth it. We enjoyed our visit to all of it. We spent several hours there.

We planned to tour the Correr Museum, but decided being outside sounded like more fun after spending several hours inside. So we did what we do best & what we did daily while in Venice – we wandered. Not exactly sure of our path, but we ended up at the CA’ DEL SOL MASK SHOP. Wow - very nice! But Wow, again – very expensive! There were some reasonably priced mask brooches that were pretty. With such a large inventory, I question how many of the products can actually be hand-made in their little shop. With all of their inventory, that would have taken years without selling anything! During our walk, we went thru so many delightful calles, lingered in quiet campos, & longingly gazed at private flower covered terraces. Came upon CAMPO BANDLERA e MORO & couldn’t resist sitting for a while & pretending we were Venetians escaping the tourists. Went to & viewed the exterior of the ARSENAL, however, entering is not allowed. On the way back to the Grand Canal, we found OSTERIA a la TANA, which is located on Campo della Tana behind the Naval Museum. There is a E2 cover charge per person; sodas in a can are E3 (which seemed to be universal in Venice); no service charge. The spaghetti al Ragu (with ground beef meat) was very good & a large portion (E10) – we shared. It was served with a large side of parmesan cheese & bread slices. Service was excellent & very friendly. We dined outside. A couple close to us had ordered 2 pizzas, thinking they were individual size. The pizzas were actually about the size of an American medium size & looked luscious. On the menu, a pizza with mushrooms, tomato sauce, cheese, ham was E9. This was the best tasting Italian style food we had during our 3 weeks in Italy. (However, a second trip several days later did not produce as large a portion & there was very little tomato sauce on the spaghetti.) We went back to the waterfront, turned left & headed for S.ELENA. At Garibaldi, we turned left & were delighted by this area. There were shops, cafes, etc., & mostly local people. Further into the area, there were alluring parks with benches beaconing. We couldn’t resist. On one of the benches around a fascinating fountain (covered with plants & moss), we watched the local children play, mothers pushing strollers, & lovers walking hand in hand. This park marked the beginning spot of our favorite place in Venice. Removing ourselves from the bench was made bearable by a tree shrouded lane; fallen leaves covered the ground; at the end of the lane we could see glimpses of the water; it was like a movie scene, but very real. We walked thru the Biennale area & continued to the waterfront, but turned left, further away from St. Marks. The canal walkway was dense with trees, plants, & vines on the non-water side. The tourist area was far away from this world. Soon we crossed a bridge & came upon another park in a residential area. We pretended to be tired & need a rest, but really we just wanted to delay our exit from this place. As we sat, we watched the plight of two elderly gentlemen with a lovely little female foo-foo dog. She was such a sweet little lady & they were so proudly walking her on her lease. However, a male neighborhood dog also thought she was lovely & he was not restrained by leash or owner! He relentlessly pestered those poor men & their dog! The men shooed him, swatted at him with their neck scarves, said something to him in Italian (probably unkind words!). Eventually, the male dog must have decided the lovely lady was too well protected & moved on to greener pastures – much to the relief of the two elderly gentlemen. We loved this spot! So, again it was time to move on. We continued on until we had come full circle & were again on Garibaldi. Then to the waterfront & another reward for today, Gelato! I say, “A day without Gelato is a sad day!” Back thru San Marco, which was packed with people, to an ATM. Our apartment agreement was to pay with cash. So we planned to withdraw our maximum every day until we had enough.

So, after leaving our apartment at about 8 a.m., we returned at about 7 p.m. Along the way, we had picked up some bakery items & pizza by the slice. What a wonderful day in Venice. But we were tired & retired about 10 p.m. Lo & behold, at 11:30 p.m. we woke up & stayed up until 3:30 a.m. & then up for the day at 8 a.m. – jet lag!

Next: San Polo

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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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This is wonderful, I can't wait to read more! Love the details. I am trying to decide what my next Italy adventure should be and I had thought a little about a week in Venice...this should be interesting.
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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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SATURDAY, 10/28/06 – As already evident, we did not tour Venice like most tourists. Our advance plans were to wander the island & cover all of the 6 sections on foot; to see the “behind stage” Venice. So, today’s plans were to walk the San Polo section, beginning at the Rialto Bridge. And, we did so until I was hollering for Alleve!

Along our way, we toured the FRARI CHURCH. I can’t imagine having such a beautiful place to worship! It amazes me that such grand art can be viewed for such inexpensive admission prices. We walked, watched, sat on benches, fantasized about being Venetians, & wore ourselves out! Back to the restaurant (don’t remember the name) next to our apartment (in CAMPO SAN ZULIAN). We had spaghetti Bolognese for E9, prosuitto pizza for E9, & lasagna for E9. We liked the flavors of yesterday’s spagetti better. I didn’t like the lasagna, but Tim did. The pizza was a good size, again about the size of an American medium, with a crispy crust, & it was very good. Also today, we went to Rick Steves’ #1 Gelato place, LA BOUTIQUE del GELATO, next to Hotel Bruno. Sorry, but I just don’t have discriminating tastes, I guess, because I can’t tell that much difference – they are all good to me! But we weren’t done – headed back to San Marco waterfront, turned right & walked by HARRY’S BAR, walked around the area west of San Marco. Found a BURGER KING in CAMPO SAN LUCA area. Didn’t eat there; was just nosey. Whopper cost almost E6. Place was full of locals. Evidently, they like our food! In the same space was an Italian fast food that sold pizza by the slice for E3.50 & paninis. Ended up at GLASS HANDMADE (glasshandmade.it) shop (another Fodorite suggestion). The owner was making glass items (with a torch) right in the shop. Watched him for a while. The best part was the sign in front of him – “Photos only by those who buy my products or by women who spend the night with me.” He must be a hoot! I noticed more locals were out & about today, or maybe just the area. Cute how they pull their shopping carts along. Must be horrible for them with all of us tourists in their way. Before we ended our wandering, we came upon a grocery & bought some more snacks & sodas. Then back to the apartment with our bounty. Before retiring, I paid homage to my feet & their amazing ability of allowing me to abuse them for three days in a row!

Next: CANNAREGIO section, JEWISH GHETTO, & CIMITERO
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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 05:30 PM
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SUNDAY, 10/29/06 – Daylight savings time; set clocks back one hour last night. Today is the CANNAREGIO section; we plan to visit the JEWISH GHETTO area & take a guided tour. We also decided to "run" by the train station to look it over in prep for our ride from Venice to Rome on 11/2.

So, from our apartment, we walked via the STRADA to the train station. On this beautiful Sunday morning, there were many local families out & about. Passed a McDonalds on the Strada. The TRAIN STATION was a rumbling mass of people & bags. We walked around, did some people watching, & familiarized ourselves with the electronic board, etc. There were a couple of exhibits that puzzled us. Inside the station was a large poster placed high on the wall by the electronic schedule board. It showed a mushroom cloud & read “Where are we going?” (in English, not Italian). Then, outside was a replica of the Pieta with an American flag under the figure of Jesus. It was in a clear plastic enclosure. On the enclosure was a sign, but it was in Italian, so I do not know what it said. Puzzling, but they seemed to be anti-U.S. displays.

Continuing our journey, from the train station, we walked to the Jewish Ghetto area & walked around there. By the time we got to the museum for a tour, the next one would not leave for 50 minutes. We decided to return another time (mistake – never made it back & I’m sorry we missed that tour!). As we walked around the square, Don & Tim went one way & I went another. Soon I was approaching a guard hut with 2 armed guards standing outside. The hut & guards did not block any pathway, just there. I continued approaching them & noticed they were intently staring at me. On my front, I had a small bag hanging over my neck & under one arm. I think they were worried that I may be approaching them with intent to cause harm. Then Don & Tim called across the square to me & wanted me to come & see something. I continued past the guards & one quietly said to another, “American”.

Leaving the ghetto area, we headed towards FONDAMENTA NOVE. So far we had loved all of this area; so quiet; no tourists; so pretty. Close to F. Nove, we noticed so many flower shops with the most beautiful flowers – the colors so vibrant. At F. Nove, we once again entered the hustle & bustle of human activity. Some cafes, shops, the waterfront, & of course the vaporetto docks. We attempted to purchase a ticket to CIMITERO & discovered that the ride is free. Now to some, it may seem strange to travel half way around the world & visit a cemetery. But it is not strange for us. We have visited cemeteries throughout our travels – New Orleans, Civil War sites, Chatanooga Military Cemetery, Arlington, old cemeteries on country roads, etc. We curiously read the tombstones & wonder about the lives of those recorded. So we were ready for our journey into another part of Venice’s history. As usual, we read the signs to determine which dock & water bus to take, & confirmed our assumptions by asking (of course!).

The ride was short, we disembarked, & walked thru the entrance into the cemetery. What a surprise for the eyes! We were not prepared for what we saw; so foreign to all of our previous cemetery visits. Every grave was showered with flowers – I can still see the mass of colors in my mind! To take such care of their dearly departed, Venice must contain some very kind & loving people. So many people were quietly kneeling at graves, walking the paths with flowers in their arms. We passed some with tears in their eyes, their pain still sharp. Obviously, even though it was a photographer’s colorful dream, we kept the camera in my bag. It seemed too disrespectful to take pictures. For hours, we wandered & rested; the area is huge. It was so peaceful among the many trees & with the birds singing & the warm sun in a deep blue sky. There are toilettes on the grounds. The tombstones range from small & simple to majestic. A large majority of them had painted cameo pictures of the departed. Many of the crypts were artistic wonders. One had a replica of the Pieta; many had stained glass & mosaic art. The history in this place was awesome. There is one section of non-Italians; most died in the mid-1800’s; many had military titles. We saw large flat stones with many names & death dates; family plots shared thru the years. Finally, it was time to leave. The vaporetto departs every 10 minutes. Even though there was only one vaporetto stop, we asked to be sure that we were headed back to Venice & not to other places beyond!

As we walked from F. Nove, we erupted with a gigantic need for American food! So we stopped at McDONALDS on the Strada. This is significant for us, because we NEVER eat at McDonalds! I couldn’t believe that we paid E21! We each had a quarter pounder, large fries, & large cola. The place was overflowing with people & I think we were the only foreigners – the rest were Italian families out for a Sunday meal! Don’t understand – if they like our food so much, why aren’t there more places serving American food?

So we could experience as many Venice sights & sounds as possible, we took a different path back to our apartment. We arrived once again with tired feet, backs, & legs! Glad we brought lots of Alleve from home – it performed wonders!

Next: Burano & Murano
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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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Thank you olive_oil for your kind & diplomatic words - "details" vs. "verbose"!

After each of our travels I do a trip report on a word doc for our file. Then if we ever go back, I have the details. I so enjoyed Venice that I couldn't seem to leave any more out of the report!

If you decide to go back, I hope some of my info helps.

Julie
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Old Nov 25th, 2006, 08:29 PM
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Beautifully written trip report Julie with wonderful details. I particularly enjoyed your description of San Marco. I also followed Rick Steves’ advice regarding immediately ascending to the second floor museum. I was also rewarding with quite a bit of alone time in the museum and on the railing marveling at the wonderful mosaics. The Golden Alter is one of the most beautiful works of art I have every seen; I stood before it transfixed.

I can’t wait to read the rest of your report. It is bringing back so many wonderful memories of Venice. I am traveling to Rome in April and would love to read your report on Rome.
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Old Nov 26th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Thanks roadlesstraveled for your kind words. I agree, the Golden Alter is spectacular!

Here's our next - Murano & Burano:

MONDAY, 10/30/06 – Plans are to visit Murano, Burano, & Torcello. We could have taken the vaporetto from the San Marco area, but then we would miss the lovely areas between us & F. Nove. So once again, we strolled to F. Nove & took the LN to the 3rd stop, Burano. We bought a 24 hour ticket, E12 per person. The ticket booth directed us over the bridge to the LN dock. We stamped our ticket before boarding. About 5 minutes the vaporetto arrived at Murano. A “ticket checker” came aboard; we got checked. It seemed that only the tourist looking folks got checked. The Checker said the fine is E30. About 15-20 minutes from Murano, we reached BURANO.

We really enjoyed walking around Burano. It is absolutely lovely with all of the pastel houses with laundry hanging outside the windows. We toured the Lace Museaum & luckily the ladies’ hands were flying! It was amazing to watch them as they skillfully made the intricate lace designs – fascinating! So glad we got to see them. As usual, we looked at all of the exhibits & read all of the information; seems to take us so much longer than everyone else! Then we went back to exploring. We are not shoppers, but we did check out many of the little souvenier shops. I bought a couple of framed lace scenes; one with “Burano” & one with “Venice”. They were only E6.50 each (obviously not real Burano handmade lace!), but will find a wall spot next to a collage I plan to make of our tickets, receipts, etc. and some trip photos. We also went thru the church; it had a huge pipe organ over the door; would love to have heard it play; Italian churches are so gorgeous. The day was sunny bright & clear skies. Difficult to leave, but we headed back to the vaporetto stop. Decided we were too “draggy” today for Torcello, so decided to head for Murano. The vaporetto stop was confusing. We thought we read the signs correctly, but it was not to be. One dock was where we were dropped off – wrong spot, which we figured that out. The other said Torcello – we thought that was wrong, but it was right to get to Murano. When the vaporetto arrived, a bus employee announced, “Murano, Venezia” as people boarded.

MURANO – On our trip last year, we attended a glass making demonstration, so that was not in our plans this trip. We did our usual attempt to exhaust ourselves by walking. The prices were cheaper than in Venice for the same items. I found a very nice Christmas tree ornament for a family member, E20. It had an authenticity certificate, but who knows whether it was handmade or not – that wasn’t a real concern for me. The clerk wrapped it very well & placed it in a nice box for the trip home. Decided we were hungry (& tired) & found the Buca alla Torre. Now the way we decide where to eat is the “cruising” style. We slowly walk by the diners, study the food on their plates, & if it looks good, we eat there! Very scientific! Buca alla Torre was packed. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. We all got a pasta dish & a soda, which equaled E37 total for the 3 of us – obviously very reasonable. We still preferred the flavor of the food at the café behind the Naval Museum in Venice. Service was slow, of course, because the place was packed. Some people got up & left when they were not waited on quickly enough. We enjoyed sitting! While we were sitting there, I reviewed the Rick Steves’ book & discovered that he recommends this restaurant. Could have been why it was so busy, but probably not since more than half of the diners were Italian. Besides, all of the places we had “cruised” were very busy. We liked Murano; walked a lot of back streets & saw some very plush looking one-family villas, unlike Venice where most everything seems to be apartments. Eventually, we took the LN back to F. Nove in Venice. We could have taken a longer water trip on the #5 to the San Zaccaria stop by San Marco, but we wanted to stop at our grocery, which was on the way from F. Nove to our apartment. Again, we took a different route to our apartment in order to see different sights.

We rested some & headed out again. We sat in San Marco square & watched the traffic for a while, strolled along the shops on all 3 sides, walked the waterfront heading east for a while, from the waterfront turned north & walked for a while, then turned west for a while, & lo & behold! we found a Chinese restaurant – The Capital! Just what we needed – Chinese, Italian-style. But we were so glad to find something other than the 3 P’s (pizza, pasta, panini), that we got some chicken fried rice carryout – only E2.60 per serving – but no soy sauce(?). When we ate it later that nite, we decided it was not chicken – it tasted just like turkey – but it tasted good.

Next: Correr Museum, Naval Museum, & S. Elena again.

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Old Nov 26th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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TUESDAY, 10/31/06 – Halloween. We saw some Halloween items in the shop windows, but not a lot. Obviously, since Halloween is not an Italian holiday, the items were for the Americans. We headed for the CORRER MUSEUM & strolled around until it opened at 9 a.m. (The E11 admission includes the Doges Palace) No line; walked right in. Again, we took much longer than the tour books advise; we took about 3 hours. This museum is wonderful; we enjoyed it so much.

Then we went to the NAVAL MUSEUM, E1.55 & the ticket office closes at 1 p.m. Very few people there. The displays were very interesting; my guys really liked it. We ate at the Osteria behind the Naval Museum.

After dining & resting, we all decided to give up the rest of the day’s time to S. ELENA – our favorite Venice spot. We expressed that with only tomorrow left, we should take the Jewish tour, or go up in the tower, or walk the Dorsoduro section, but desire gave way to reason. So back to Garibaldi & to the park bench. The birds were very busy this day – singing, playing around the fountain, & flitting so fast from tree to tree that they looked like trapeze artists. Again the sunshine was beautiful & the sky so blue. I tilted my face to the sky & closed my eyes. I could hear the sing-songing of the Italian language in the background, the sound of a local pulling her shopping cart on the small gravel path, again the birds, & some children playing. I opened my eyes & looked at the empty peanut shells at my feet. I imagined an elderly Italian woman chasing her husband out of the house so she could finish her chores & he sat on this bench feeding his bird friends. Would have been nice to sit beside him & chat. Even though he could not speak English & I cannot speak Italian, we would have still communicated. Communicated that we both appreciated this beautiful day in a special spot in the beautiful city of Venice. My two guys brought me back to the present with their laughter. My “little boy” husband had thrown a peanut shell at an aggressively approaching pigeon (he hates them, although I don’t know what they ever did to him!) & for some reason that was extremely funny. With a parental tone, I jokingly advised him that soon the Italian Pigeon Police would be arriving to arrest him for pigeon abuse. That made them both hysterical with laugher!

The only way I convinced myself to leave that bench was to walk the lovely tree canopied path towards the water. The leaves were a mix of yellow & green – an artist’s palate. Later, as we headed back to our apartment along the waterfront, we passed the huge RCCL Brillance of the Seas. It was docked along side the waterfront by the street leading to the Arsenale. What a horrible sight to see, but what a great spot for the passengers!

At our apartment, we heard a speaker in the campo below us & discovered a tour group of young adults standing under our window as they listened to their guide. The 3 of us leaned on a window sill & watched. One by one the young folks noticed us & would nudge the person next to him/her. Soon everyone but the guide knew we were there. The guide turned to lead them away & we waved & some waved back. I hollered, “Where are you from?” “Russia”, one young woman replied proudly as she raised her arm in the air (which was holding a gelato cone!). I responded, “Yea, Russia!”. They all grinned widely & waved as they rounded the corner, dutifully following their guide, and we waved back.

Next: Last full day in Venice - the Dorsoduro section.

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Old Nov 26th, 2006, 06:14 PM
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Julie, thanks for posting and for all of the details. I know what you mean about museum time; seems my DH and I can spend hours even in the tiniest museums. We were in Venice last year during this same week so your report helps bring back memories. I've almost completed my trip report from a trip to Rome & Floence last month, but I believe it's way too long for fodors. You see, I'm also "verbose" . I'll be submitting mine to SlowTravel and once they post it, I'll post a link here at Fodors.
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 01:14 AM
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All roads to Venice end at the monstrous parking place/bus station known as PIAZZALE Roma.
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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Thanks, Bellini, for a correction of my spelling. & thanks Margaretlb for advising me on a way to post a loong report. Since we were in Rome for 2 weeks, I plan on doing that report by sites we saw, rather than a day by day blow! So, it should be much shorter.

OK here's the last of our Venice trip.

WEDNESDAY, 11/1/06 – All Saint’s Day & our last day in Venice & so much we have not done. Today’s plan was DORSODURO, so we headed for the ACCADEMIA BRIDGE. We arrived at the MUSEUM at about 8:30 a.m.; it opened at 8:15 a.m.; no line; very few people inside. Again, we enjoyed the museum immensely; however, we were struck by the dirtiness of the area around it. The worse we had seen in Venice, which was very clean everywhere else. Then on to SALUTE CHURCH; again very few people. Then we began our walk of the area, heading to CA’ REZZONICO. Again we noticed the Dorsoduro area seemed to be dirtier & unkept. We saw Guidecca Island across the water & wished we had time to explore it; it looked interesting.

At Ca’ Rezzonico, there is a free garden for resting & enjoying – you know we did so. There are also free toilettes available on the ground level, without buying a ticket. Good to know if in the area & need such. Ca’ Rezzonico was our favorite over the Accademia Museum & the Salute Church. I fell in love with the bust of the “Veiled Woman” – my favorite art piece in all of Venice. The skill, the talent, the insight of the artist to give the look of a transparent veil over a face is awesome in itself, but this artist did it in marble! The artist is Antonio Corrodini 1668-1752 – a genius in my opinion!

Next we headed for a gondola repair shop, as informed by a Fodorite. It is on a canal & can be viewed from the other side of the canal. It was too late for workers to be onsite, but it was interesting to see the gondolas waiting for repair & the home next to the shop.

We were walked out – believe it or not! So, contrary to our usual walking method, we caught a vaporetto from Zetterie to S. Zaccaria & walked thru San Marco, back to our apartment. We packed & prepared for our train trip tomorrow. Don & Tim ate leftover spaghetti (warmed in the microwave) – yuk!

THURSDAY, 11/2/06 – Today we take the TRAIN to ROME. We planned to pull our luggage to the Rialto vaporetto stop, but there were 2 bridges to scale. So Tim convinced us to go thru San Marco to the S. Marco stop. Bless his heart, he was concerned about Mom & Dad hauling luggage up & down stairs. We knew the #82 did not begin until 9:30 a.m., so we would take the #1 which would be very crowded & very slow (it criss-crosses the canal). Our train was scheduled to leave at 10:30 a.m., so we left our apartment at 8:30 a.m. It took us a little over an hour. As we had noticed during our trial run, the big electronic board listed the train #’s, destinations, arrival times, departure times, & track/bin #’s. Ours was on the board but did not have an arrival time or bin # - it was too early. However, outside by the tracks, our train was listed as track #5 (which turned out to be correct). I used the toilette at the station (which is outside by the tracks) & it costs. I forget the price, but the correct change is needed to put into a turnstile. Since we had the time & the line was short, I exchanged our email confirmation for real tickets. Boarding was a little frantic. The board indicated the train would be in the station for only about 5 minutes. The bin was not posted until the train arrived & it was #5. We were in carriage #4, which meant a long walk to the opposite end of the train. We & a lot of other people had to hussle. Luggage for a group was being loaded into the luggage box on our carriage, so we placed our luggage over our seats. I was surprised our 30” luggage would fit, but the overhead bins are quite large. We couldn’t lift them that high & our son was busy elsewhere & a male passenger noticed our dilemma & with great ease lifted the bags into place. “Oh, how nice to be young & strong!” my husband exclaimed to him. Several times we saw younger adults lifting luggage for older folks & for females.

We purchased 1st class tickets & I am glad that we did. In my opinion, our seats were more comfortable & spacious than the 2nd class seats (we checked them out!). Except for the short ride from Mestre to Venice last year, we had never ridden on a train. So at first we were confused as to how to access one carriage from another – the doors between open automatically! There was a free toilette at the end of each carriage. The dining car was carriage #5; the snack bar #6. We did not buy any food on the train. I suggest bringing some snacks, as most people did. A train employee had an office in carriage #3 & could be consulted for assistance. She also gave the announcements – but they were not easily heard. The seats in 1st class were two facing two, an aisle, & then one facing one; even #’s facing odd #’s. From Venice to Rome, the even #’d seats faced going forward. The 3 of us had the 2 facing 2 with the extra seat unsold. In the 1st class section, a drink cart came thru with one complimentary drink for each person – soda or water. There was an announcement when lunch began in the dining car.

We really enjoyed the train ride - resting, seeing the countryside, chatting with other passengers, chatting with each other. It was fun.

Regarding Venice, the three of us decided:
1. S. Elena is our favorite part of Venice.
2. We were all very pleased that we spent most of our time walking & “seeing” the city versus “hitting” all of the tourist sites.
3. We noticed the physical beauty of the Italian men & women; their slim physiques; their grand clothing styles. I remarked on the “man bags” I had noticed the Italian men carrying & remarked that I wish American men had the confidence to do so. You can imagine the response from my traveling partners!
4. We were all pleasantly amazed at how friendly & helpful the locals are. How can they keep such great attitudes while tourists are taking over their city every day!
5. We all grew to dislike the San Marco area. We feel it is overrun with people & has a staged, Disney World atmosphere. It is important to see it at least once, but we preferred to avoid it when possible.
6. If we visit Venice again, we all agreed that we would want a different lodging location – probably S. Elena or second choice, San Polo.
7. The Venetians love dogs & proof of that is all over the streets. While they love their dogs, they do not feel obligated to clean up after them! Since we walked so much over most of the city, we hated the “landmines”! We would usually appoint a “point man” (or woman) to alert the others. That way, we each had a chance to look up at various times, but the point man always looked down!
8. We stayed true to our motto – any day without gelato is a sad day – so we had gelato every day!
9. As probably noticed, we are not foodies. So, other than what I listed, I cannot really offer any dining advice.
10. On our list of things that we wanted to do & see, we missed going to the top of the Clock Tower, the Diocesan Museum, the San Zaccaria Church, & the Jewish tour. In 2005, we took a gondola ride & had an extensive tour of the Doge’s Palace. So missing those two on this trip was OK.

Now, I will work on a shorter version of our Rome trip! Happy Travels, Julie
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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Julie -
Thank you so much for a lovely trip report. I, for one, love all the details as they make me feel I am there with you!

I'm looking forward to Rome - will it be on another thread?

Linda
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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Thanks, Linda. I just hope the details help someone who needs to know how to get to where & what all there is to see above the usual sites.

Yes, I'll post my Rome report under a separate thread, "Rome Trip Report".

Venice is magical! Julie
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 05:10 PM
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Julie
Thanks for the report.
We have a week in Venice next April - so quite enjoyed your experiences (and experience!)
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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I loved the "Veiled Woman", too. She is remarkable! And how about those Murano Glass chandeliers? I love all the details and maybe you've inspired me to try posting my trip report here at Fodors. After I proof it, I may post the first day and see what kind of reception I get. Looking forward to your Rome report - don't make it too short!
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Margaretlb -
Just a word of encouragement for you to do your trip report. There are many of us who love them, and the more details the better.

Don't be shy!
Linda
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