Venice, page one: travel notes and photos

Venice, Italy: October 6 – October 13

Saturday, October 6:  Venice – was love at first sight!

Airport – private water taxi to the apartment.

Family on boat!

Happy kids in Venice!

A bunch of the pictures below are just from the boat ride in…this place is amazing.

Our apartment is located in Dorsoduro, within a 2 min walk of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. In October of 1630, after nearly a third of Venice’s 150,000 citizens had been killed by plague, the Venetian Senate made an offer to God: “Stop the plague, and we’ll build a church to honor the Virgin Mary.”

God came through, or maybe the onset of cooler weather reduced the population of plague-ridden fleas. Whatever the reason, the plague was stopped in its tracks. The Venetian authorities honored their promise by giving the Virgin a prime chunk of real estate near the tip of Dorsoduro, where the Grand Canal merged with St. Mark’s Basin.  Just so happens, our apartment is within a 2 min walk and we can hear the bells and see the top of the dome from our place.  🙂

More to come tomorrow.

Another shot coming into town

Pencil sketch – the canal

Hello Venice!

Gondoliers

evening in Venice

Sunday, October 7:  What a great day we had today.  Easy, lazy morning.

Charlie and I looked into lots of options for walking and boat tours and nothing seemed to quite pan out — either the timing wasn’t right or we had some unanswered questions about the tour itself so we decided just to walk toward St. Mark’s and see what we could find.

Little alley way over to St. Marks

Just on my way to the Billa for milk – not a bad walk.

Got to St. Mark’s along with about 2,000 or so other people.  Once we arrived it was easy to see why this Piazza is so popular among tourists.  It is just one beautiful building or icon after another.

It was a lot of fun to visit the square with Henry because much of our school history over the past month or so has been on Ancient Greece and Italy.   He has already learned about the evangelist St. Mark and why he is considered the Patron Saint of Venice, we’ve already covered the history of the Doge’s Palace and covered lots of Roman artists, writers, politicians, etc. so this part of our European trip could not have come at a better time.  It was funny last week when Henry was doing a lesson on Venice and during the lesson, there was a link to a video showing modern day Venice.  We did not bother with it since we would be here this week.  What better way to make a lasting impression?

This similar photo of St. Mark’s Lion was shown in Henry’s online lesson last week so it was cool to see it in person.

The Lion is the church’s symbol of St. Mark

We decided on Venice’s version of the hop on/ hop off bus tour but this one is on a boat.  We had said prior that we were not going to take another pre-recorded audio tour because commentary from live tour guide is so much better and gives you a chance to ask questions.  Live and learn.

It was a beautiful day so what better place to be than on the water?

Having some fun with Picasa photo editing 🙂

View from boat tour – near Accademia Bridge

We are still planning our days here in Venice.  I think we may head to Accademia Museum today and maybe even take a boat up to the Rialto Bridge.

Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Monday, October 8: Columbus Day so no homeschooling.

Took the Vaporetto to the San Marco stopped and walked to the Doge’s Palace.

Doge’s Palace architecture

Kids at the Doge’s

The Palace is really neat and the good news is that it kept the kids’ attention pretty much for the entire time.  Part of the Palace is the Prison and the armor collection.  Below is a photo of the “Bridge of Sighs“.  I read about it earlier in the week and did not realize it was part of the Palace.  There are some interesting theories as to how the bridge got its name.  Click on the link to see some of the theories and you decide.  Regardless of where the name came from, it was pretty cool.

Bridge of Sighs

17th century graffiti from prisoners in the Doge’s Palace Prison

Ditto

Prison cells

After we toured the Doge’s Palace we went on a gondola ride.  We found a small canal a little off the main drag and got on board.  It was interesting to see the city from the water and at a slow pace.

Our gondolier

Tuesday, October 9:  Repeat after me “carbs are your friend”. Are you kidding me — carbs have become my very best friend while here in Europe and it’s not stopping – actually getting worse now that we have arrived in Italy!

I am going to have kick the carb habit when I get home in a big way.

I digress.

Killing time waiting for the ATM! Racing across the square.

Considering that Henry’s stride is about 6 inches longer than Elsa’s – she came in a hair behind Henry. Might need to get her started on a track team!

Okay, today was a great day. Started off a little grey and drizzly and we thought about postponing our trip for a few days but we found out that our tour guide was not available later in the week so we rolled the dice and it worked out perfectly.

We met Fernando at St. Mark’s under the Duke kneeling to the Lion of St. Mark’s.

Our meeting place – under the Duke kneeling to the Lion of St. Marl’s

He showed us a few important elements of the Square itself and then took us inside the Cathedral.

Afterwards, we walked the rest of the Square and then down to the dock where we met our water taxi driver who took the four of us on a one hour tour around Venice – up the Grand Canal…

Do you think they can comprehend how lucky they are?

Cutie!

Cruising up the Grand Canal

The driver and tour guide took us all the way up the Grand Canal and then into some of the smaller canals around Venice.  It was very cool.  There were a lot of times when the kids had to duck their heads inside the taxi because the water level was about half way between high and low tide and they would have hit their head on the stone and metal bridges lining the canals.  Right after this, we toured an area of town that housed the hospital and after that, you’ve got to be bound and determined not to end up there. I am sure it was fine after you got past the monastery entrance built in the 8th century but it was hard to imagine that it was modern medicine at its best.  Just my western arrogance, I guess.  🙂

Local color

After we came out the other side of the small canals, we cruised around the area in which we are staying – the Dosoduro.  We saw a lot of the small islands that comprise Venice like the Lido.  We are considering a little day trip to Murano. That should be fun especially if we can time it with a glass blowing demonstration.

Approaching St. Mark’s

The Rialto Bridge

Gondoliers in training

Tomorrow, our friends Mike and Carly arrive in Venice and I am giddy to see someone from home.  🙂

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

Wednesday, October 10: First full rainy day.  Homeschooled and then went to lunch at a little cafe.  Not the best of places — my risotto was very fishy and the kids didn’t even like their pizza.  We made up for it though with double scoops of gelato for everyone. 🙂

Toured the Accademia Museum and made our way back to the apartment.  Heard from Mike and Carly who were enjoying a latte across the Grand Canal.  They made their way to the Accademia Bridge and called us to say they were close. Henry was so excited to hear from someone from “home”  — as soon as my phone rang, he pulled on his socks, shoes and coat and ran out OF the door.  It was hard keeping up with him as we hustled towards the bridge.  Found our friends browsing in a tie shop.  We walked back to our place, had a glass of wine and some cheese and caught up on both of our travels.  We then made our way to a restaurant for a nice dinner!  We are planning on catching up with them again today for some more fun in Venice.

Thursday October 11: Today ranks up there as one of the best days we have had so far…

homeschooled (of course) and then met up with Mike and Carly at St. Mark’s.  Of course, my kids were starving so we headed to their favorite pizza place – note the dropped “a” from “piazza” to “pizza”.  🙂

We all dined on pizza, calzones, or little sandwiches before heading to Murano – what a great idea. Thank you  Mike and Carly.

Piz”a” zza S. Marco — Yum

Cruised across the water to Murano.  It only took us about 25 minutes and we were there.  What a neat a place.  Found a neat place for latte and a walk around the town.

In Murano!

So we walked for a while and then found a cool glass blower.  Not the place we planned for but it was perfect because they did not have a regularly scheduled “glass blowing show” but rather people actually working and making their living doing this.  It was super great.We watched them blow glass for a little while and then decided to buy some pendants for home / kitchen.  We had been looking for a while and found some terrific ones and with such a great memory!

Glass blower – Murano

Love it!

So, after a super day of touring and checking out Murano we took the vaporetto back to our stop and walked until we found a great place for a refreshment — what fun.  The bartender was super nice and “loved the babies”!  🙂

We could not have asked for a better day!

It was perfect!  Thank you.

Thanks for reading. Miss you all.

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