Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Gondola Ride in Venice, Italy

Today was our day to visit the Doge’s Palace. It was the heart of the Venetian government from the 9th century, but the present palace was not built until the 14th century. The chief executive was a Duke, or Doge, an elected official with sweeping powers over life and death.

There appeared to be far fewer tourists today judging by the outside of the palace.

Part of the inner courtyard of the palace...

Love these fragile statues...

This was initially the main staircase to the palace, although it is not used today. At the top are statues of Mars and Neptune, and, of course, a winged lion over the door.

The Golden Staircase was named for the beautiful ceiling. We did an audio tour and the palace was fantastic. I have never seen so many beautiful paintings in one place. Even the ceilings in every room were covered. Money was no object then!

Back outside into the sunshine. We’ve been blessed with fantastic weather on this trip. There were hardly any line-ups today to go into the bell tower. What a difference a day makes!

Almost noon by the “digital” clock!

Still lots of people “not feeding” the pigeons!

It didn’t bother her at all to have them on her head.

Lots of gondoliers ready for action. That was definitely on our "to-do" list while we were there.

For now we took the vaporetto to the other side of the Grand Canal to see Barb’s church, the Santa Maria della Salute. She loves the church’s five domes. Construction on this church began in 1631 after a serious outbreak of the plague, which killed a third of the population. The church was built as an offering to Our Lady of Health (Salute).

These churches were so ornate. You could look at them for hours and still see different things.

Jim looking tiny outside the church.

Interestingly, there were no chairs or pews in this church. Huh!

Once again, fabulous artwork…

Some of the statues were quite grim. Maybe it has something to do with this being a plague church.

This was spectacular…

We walked down to the end of the spit of land that the church was built on. What is this?? Seaweed in the water. Neat pattern!

Yikes! Not sure about the significance of this.

The Grand Canal was looking very serene today.

Going under the Rialto Bridge, one of two bridges crossing the Grand Canal. If you aren’t using one of these bridges, you have to cross by boat.

I loved looking down the tiny canals…you never knew what treasure you would see, most often a bridge or series of bridges.

The bridge at the end is the other one that crosses the Grand Canal, the Accademia Bridge.

Another huge church, San Simeone Piccolo. It is relatively new having been built from 1718-38. In order to generate income, many of the churches now charge admission to see the great paintings inside.

Parking spots for private boats. You quickly adapt to the concept of no cars.

Lots of gondolas under cover...

The building on the right under wraps is going to be a luxury hotel. Anything that is built or renovated has to keep the same architecture as its surroundings.

San Giorgio Maggiore or St. George’s Church is on an island of the same name. The first church on the island was built in 790, but in 1223 all the buildings on the island were destroyed by an earthquake. This church was built between 1566 and 1610.

Beautiful Venice with Barb’s church in the background.

It was so nice to just walk around all the back streets and canals

This doorway with its lovely carving was right outside the square by our hotel.

We had seen bottles of Bellini in store windows and thought it was a peach drink with champagne. We asked the waiter at this cafe if he had any, and he said “That’s just for tourists. I’ll make you one.” OK! That sounded good. It was a served in a small martini glass and had more foam than drink. Hmm…well, we could say we tried one. When we got the bill, we found out that three Bellinis and one beer was 30 euros. Ridiculous!

That night I was looking for “things to do in Venice” and found “5 things not to do.” Too bad I hadn’t read it the day before! Ordering a Bellini in a restaurant was one of them. Tourists…gotta love ‘em!

We walked by a store with all these shoes made out of…Coke bottles.

We sat in the square outside our hotel for a while and people watched. This little guy was having a great time running around with his stroller.

And then he came by for a close up!

That night we went for our gondola ride. This was also on the list of 5 Things Not To Do in Venice…but heck when you’re in Venice. Barb and Ed as we headed out…

Our gondolier, Michael…many of the gondoliers have several generations of gondoliers in their family, but Michael was the first. You have to study for two years to learn history and all the techniques required to manoeuvre in some tight spaces.

He took us under the Bridge of Sighs. In the Doge’s Palace there was a powerful Council of Ten who handed out justice. Their judgments did not require the accused to be present, and sentences were carried out immediately and were not subject to appeal. Ouch!

Look at the series of bridges…

Sometimes there isn’t much headroom for the gondolier!

Beautiful and peaceful looking…one of my favourite photos.

Absolutely what I pictured for Venice...I laughed at Ed's comment at the end: "You can't get any more Italian than that." No, you can't!

This was a great restaurant right on the water...

And more amazing masks!

The next day we visited Peggy Guggenheim’s museum. Her father perished on the Titanic and she was born into immense wealth. She was an avid art collector and lived in a grand home on the Canal. Her collection and other pieces of art are now in the museum which was her home. We walked by these pretty apartments…

To the museum…

This work by Dali is just…bizarre! Even with the audio guide describing it, you had a hard time figuring out what some of the works were about.

Peggy was married to Max Ernst, an artist with a bizarre mind! We all agreed these two paintings of his (which supposedly depicted their relationship) were the most controversial.

Her daughter, Pegeen, was also an artist. She suffered for many years from depression and eventually committed suicide.

This is the front of the museum facing the canal. The man on this statue had an large erect penis, which she would remove if important people or figures from the church were visiting. It has since been welded in as it disappeared a few times. There were many student groups visiting that day, and this statue got a lot of looks and giggles.

Look at the view she had from her home….

We left the museum and walked to a deli Barb and Ed remembered visiting on their last trip. Beautiful roses above the doorway…

This was the street the deli was on…so quiet when you got away from the Canal.

Lions everywhere…

This lovely vine covered building is right beside Barb’s church, which was also the vaporetto stop for the museum.

One of the many vaporettos…

We had a nap or tried to…we could hear what sounded like an orchestra playing in the square outside our hotel. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! It was actually only two guys and they were quite good.

My lazyman's way of videoing them...

This lady was in the square every day with her dog. She didn’t appear to sell too much, but she was always there. The dog wore a sweater and a burberry skirt...poor thing!

Ed had been hanging onto two Tiger beer since leaving the ship. So on our last night in Venice, he and Jim enjoyed them on our terrace. Also included in the little buffet were a can of cashews from Phuket and chocolates from the ship.

We went back to the same restaurant where we got into the Grappa. The Polish couple weren't there, but the waiter was happy to see us return. He is from the Philippines and, like most Philippinos, very friendly. A fabulous way to end our Venice visit!

The next morning we got in our water taxi for our trip to the airport. Here we are zooming away...

Our last look at St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace. Actually, as it turns out, it wasn't our last look because the taxi driver thought we were going to the cruise ship terminal. So several minutes later, we were zooming by again, this time on our way to the airport! you think the amount of luggage made him think we were taking a cruise?

Sister wives!

Here we are at the airport...

Only a short 7 minute walk to the terminal...

Uphill and it was no 7 minutes!

Mission accomplished!

We were flying Air Transat and the movie was stuck in the machine, so this was our movie!

Leaving Venice...amazing to see it from the air.

Not sure if these were the Swiss or Italian Alps...

We landed in Toronto where we said goodbye to Barb and Ed, and stayed overnight. The next day at the airport...Tim's!!

It was a crystal clear day for flying. Here you can see the Toronto Island Airport on the left, and the CN Tower and the Skydome (circled).

We were getting close to home now...this is Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5268 feet.

I've never seen a flight like this one. It was clear flying all the way...not a cloud in sight. Amazing! And here is fantastic, beautiful New Brunswick!!

Since the start of our journey, we visited 11 countries and travelled over 25,000 miles. This was definitely a trip of fantastic memories! Here endeth the blog...

1 comment:

Jackie Champion said...

Hello there! I am glad to stop by your site and know more about Venice Gondola tours. Keep it up! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Venice Gondola tours in your area.
The historical gondola was quite different from its modern evolution- the paintings of Canaletto and others show a much lower prow, a higher "ferro", and usually two rowers. The banana-shaped modern gondola was developed only in the 19th century by the boat-builder Tramontin, whose heirs still run the Tramontin boatyard. The construction of the gondola continued to evolve until the mid-20th century, when the city government prohibited any further modifications.
Reservations must be made with a minimum of 7 days notice.

venice gondola tours