“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot
Venice, one of the most beautiful…boarding on surreal… cities in the world, abounds with buildings and decorations from Byzantine to Renaissance style. The center and most certainly most famous part of the city, is the Piazza San Marco (“Saint Mark’s Square”). Saint Mark’s Cathedral and the Doges’ Palace are the two most important and imposing structures in Venice. Venice is a city of bridges and canals and wandering around on foot brings delightful surprises around almost every corner. (Courtesy of HAL Daily Program)
…”wandering around on foot brings delightful surprises”… For two glorious days, we lived that statement, as I will try to do justice to with words and pictures in this post.
Our mid-morning arrival was blessed by brilliant sunshine and in the far off distance, snow covered alps. What a glorious site heralding the bittersweet end to a fantastic journey of discovery and fellowship. Surrounded by watercraft of every dimension, it was if we were a living movie, as we slipped by landmarks we had seen many times in film and travelogues, now this was it, our turn, it was so hard to take it all in as we crossed back and forth across the fantail trying to make sure we missed nothing.
Finally at dock, we waited in the Ocean Bar for our turn to be called to disembark, gazing out the windows on the promenade deck where we had witnessed so much in passing, now only an occasional fellow passenger taking their morning stroll. Ah, the wonderful, beautiful, joyous memories.
Our faithful friends and tablemates, Bill and Robbin, Flo and Aubrey stood guard over our luggage that was waiting for us at the main gate, one final bittersweet parting and we were off to our hotel. Part of our “cruise package” included transfers to the hotel and airport overseen by Holland America representatives on shore. Though we would not be staying on the “Island” this was all we could afford. We were quickly whisked to our four star home for the next two days; The Laguna Palace in nearby Mestre. We would have preferred to stay in Venice, but the cost was simply outrageous.
After we were settled-in, assisted by a very professional and willing staff, we set out to find the nearest transportation that we would use to carry us back and forth to the “city”. Purchasing two 36 hour passes that were good for the bus and vaporetto system, we were soon speeding across the SR11 connecting train/bus roadway to the terminal parking lot on the edge of the city and adjacent to the Vaporetto dock. From this point onward the only motorized transport on the island is by boat. What a blessing to be in a European City without the threat of being run down by a scooter or bicycle!!
Boarding a Vaporetto and finding a “prime” seat or standing spot is an art in its self. The waiting stations are floating covered structures that are usually very crowded, but the crowd is quite civil and everyone manages to board before the Skipper charges into traffic using the side to the structure to “bounce” him into the flow of Grand Canal traffic. It is an amazing experience, to say the least. Disney theme parks have nothing to compare to the “Venice” experience.
Some advice; don’t visit this charming city unless you have at least two days and a ton of money to spend. IF you are concerned about the cost of the visit, don’t go! Budget the expense and just enjoy. IT is an experience of a lifetime and you will not regret it.
Next: Our Venice Adventure.