26 and 27 November – magical Venice and a mighty hot dog

We’ve just set sail from Venice after two glorious day here. 

Where to begin? This cruise is actually two linked cruises and Venice is where some passengers left and others arrived. So now I’m going to tell you a tale to complement one of Judith Round’s anecdotes about stereotypical American eating habits. For those of you not reading Judith’s posts – she’s also on a cruise and has been regaling us with such stories. On the first portion of our cruise, most of our fellow travellers did not fit the mold of the ugly American. There is a marked difference with some who have just arrived. Please note, most of our fellow passengers seem to be open minded travellers. But the exceptions are out standing and thus here’s a companion story to Judith’s about the gourmet hot dog.  

Dad and I were in the self serve restaurant this afternoon having lunch. Two tables down from us a man sat down with a plate mightily heaped and overflowing with an enormous foot long – HOT DOG – and numerous copious fixings! The man proceeded to devour his plate load of food with a sloppy gusto that would have been more appropriate in a barn yard. The snuffling, grunts and sticky wet lip smacking was alarmingly disgusting. We finished our lunch and left as quickly as possible. It was just too unpleasant to be in the vacuity. The choices at the buffet are varied and plentiful. I’ve never seen hot dogs, and think this one was perhaps “special” ordered. Can you imagine? 

Now enough of the gross and supremely ugly American and on to the lovely and serenely beautiful Venice!

Dad and I spent all day yesterday on our own adventure. As it was passenger change day (sounds a bit like laundry day doesn’t it?) there were no organized shore excursions. We took local transport (water bus) out to Murano Island where the glass blowers work. It was not possible to see a factory – liability issues we gather – but we sure saw many beautiful glass ornaments, jewelry, goblets, dishes, chandeliers ……oh the fanciful chandeliers – selling for around 2500 to 5000 to more Euros! I admired from afar! But a few pretty trinkets did make it into my shopping bag. We had lunch in an out of the way place offering  yummy fish sauce spaghetti – served with wine of course. This was a place recommended to us by a local who spoke no English. I speak no Italian so it was great fun just getting the directions. Lunch enjoyed and back on the water bus again, we continued to St Mark’s Square! We toured around in the Doge’s palace, crossed the Bridge of Sighs and explored the creepy old prison. There was a particular room in the palace in which my house would fit four times side by side. Four more times if it was stacked one on atop the other. Huge! And the wall and ceiling decorations- well I’ll include some pictures in a picture blog shortly.

It was dusk as we rode our third water bus of the day down the Grand Canal. We sat up front and out side so nearly froze as the temperature was just about zero but it was lovely! This was my first time on the Grand Canal and watching the lights coming on within the palaces was incredibly pretty. Tiny glimpses into grand rooms crowned with brilliant chandeliers. 

Back on our Viking Star we warmed up, had dinner, and then I was off to an opera event. This wasn’t an actual opera – it was an intimate performance of several popular opera songs in a private palace. We were hosted by the count who owns it, who’s family has lived there since it was built in the 1300’s. Pretty special. The count himself was there to greet us and chat. Of course there were refreshments. It was a delightful evening which included walking to the venue and back over four bridges over four canals…..A memorable evening ….dreamlike. 

Our second day in Venice was interesting but a bit frustrating. We went to St marks square again, this time with a guide on a tour organized by Viking. The tide was really high so the square was flooded. As a result raised walking platforms had been set up but they were too few for the numbers of people. This meant crowds on the platforms so it was very difficult for the guides to keep groups together….. After some time dad and I and quite a few others set off to explore on our own. The sun was shining brightly so it felt warmer than the previous day but was still fairly cool. Standing around waiting for the groups to gather in the few dry places seemed to be a waste of this lovely sunshine and our precious time in this beautiful city. We walked an other long above water platform over to the Basilica – it took ages to get there but it was worth the effort and we enjoyed – were astounded by – the gilt interior – no photography allowed – but we took a couple of pictures in the entrance I’ll share shortly. Incredibly beautiful.

The sun seemed to have brought crowds with it. The flooded square was making moving about difficult as the platforms were narrow and too few. It was a bit dangerous really for anyone who might be slightly unsteady if pushed – and there was some pushing going on. A fall off the platforms into the water could have really serious consequences. We headed back to the ship – by boat of course – where we spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing. There’s not a lot of down time on this cruise so it was quite pleasant to do nothing for a couple of hours!

Pictures coming….tomorrow…….now it’s time for shut eye. We have an early start in the morning.

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