Saturday May 10th ~ Venice, Italy (Mother’s Day Weekend)
Venice is made up of 118 small islands and linked by bridges and canals. We had booked a hotel on Lido Island which is about a 10-15 minute ride via water taxi to the main square of Venice, Piazza San Marco. The hotel rooms on Lido are considerably less expensive vs. staying near the Piazza. Plus learning how to use the water taxis just added to our fun.
We paid $96 per night to stay at the Hotel Cristallo which included free WiFi and breakfast. Nicer hotels on the main island average over $350/night so we thought this was a good bargain. The room is very basic and the bed is not as firm as we prefer, but the plus side is two large doors that open onto a balcony overlooking the main boulevard.
The weather is perfect in the mid 70’s and we are enjoying the evening breezes. It is a little noisy at night. We had been offered a quieter location in the back part of the hotel, but after looking at both rooms we decided having this view and the balcony was our preference.
Taking a Water Taxi
It is really quite easy to navigate from island to island. The water taxi system is well-marked and the signage is easy to follow showing which one to get on.
We chose to get a three-day pass (32 Euros) so that we could hop-on and hop-off and explore as much as we wanted while here. With pass in hand, you check the board to determine which line you need. Now that we are on Lido island, we want to take the #1 water taxi to get to the main square of Venice, San Marco Plaza.
At the pier, the scrolling marquee shows us which platform we need to wait on. Scanning our pass (or individual tickets) as you enter the turnstile validates the ticket.
The water taxi itself is quite crowded with it being the weekend. It is standing room only. I am fortunate to find a place to hang onto right in the front where I can watch the boat driver.
Four short stops later we arrive about a block from our destination. It took under 15 minutes to get from our pier in Lido to the pier at San Marco and the views along the way were wonderful. Large cruise ships mixed in with a tug boat, commercial barges, other water taxis both large and small and gondolas as we got closer to our jumping off point.
Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square)
St. Mark’s Square is the center of activity in Venice. The enormous open courtyard is dominated on one side with St. Mark’s Basilica (partially covered at the moment due to conservation measures). At the same end is the large tower Campanile as well as the Clock Tower. At the water’s edge the Doge’s Palace is front and center.
Today most of the other three sides are used by shops selling name brand, luxury products or pricey restaurants. There are numerous signs posted about saying “do not feed the pigeons”. In the center tourists take pictures with said pigeons until the local police chide them for breaking the local law.
“… lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city’s cathedral since 1807.” ~ Wikipedia
Nicknamed the “Church of Gold”, it shows off the splendor of the Venetian wealth and power during the 11th century when it was originally constructed. The spectacular top dome sadly was all covered due to ongoing conservation measures.
We spent a couple of hours walking through the Doge’s Palace. Photography was not allowed in most of the main chambers.
“The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923.” ~ Wikipedia
The bridge connects the courthouse section of Doge Palace with the prison. If convicted, prisoners walked across this bridge and could get their last fleeting view of the sea, canals and freedom before being confined in windowless cells. Hence the name, as they gave a sigh seeing the outside world, often for the last time.
Canals, boats and Gondolas
More sights of Venice
As silly as this may sound, one of the highlights of the day was coming home to neatly stacked clean clothes. For anyone that has lived out of a backpack, or traveled with only carry on luggage, you know how tedious it can be to keep up with doing laundry.
We had inquired about the location of a laundromat, and our ever helpful desk clerk said to just leave our dirty clothing on the bed by 9:00 am and that they would be returned in the afternoon. The price is determined by the weight of the clothing, not per piece. I have not seen the bill yet, but at this point Tim was willing to pay whatever the price!
GRATITUDE MOMENT: I am thinking about my Mother today as this is Mother’s Day weekend back home in the states. I lost my mother to cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease in January 2013. I credit her for many things, but especially for giving me confidence. I so appreciate that from as far back as I can remember, she instilled in me a belief I could do or be anything I wanted. She showed me by example how to be strong, caring and true to myself and my beliefs. I love you Mom and miss you dearly!