Riding a Gondola Through Venice (EFCB Part 4)

Welcome to Part 4 of my travel journal! If you are interested in receiving a referral code for $100 off any EFCB trip, please send an email to whimsicalchickblog@gmail.com. 

Today, we left the hotel at 8 and set off for Venice! We took the bus to the docks, and got on a boat. I’m not fond of boats, and this one was more on the rickety side; but it was lovely being able to see the Venetian buildings appear in the distance. We sat in a compartment under the deck, and enjoyed the view as we cruised towards Venice.

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We arrived in Venice several minutes later. I was immediately awestruck by the Renaissance architecture. I also noticed that there were tons of tourists; worse than Disney! Fabrice took us to Martina, a Venetian tour guide. She first walked us to St. Marcos Square, and explained to us that Venice is sinking and that the city floods often. She is worried that the city might be completely uninhabitable in a few centuries, and so much history and culture will have been lost.

Martina also explained to us that Mark, one of the 4 gospel writers, was buried in the St. Marcus Cathedral. Over 1,000 years ago, 2 merchants stole St. Mark’s bones from their resting place: Alexandria in Egypt. They smuggled the bones out of a temple by placing them in a basket filled with pork. The temple guards’ religion banned pork, and they were too disgusted to look inside of the basket. The merchants were able to take the bones back home, to Venice. Alexandria persistently asked for the bones back over the years; so, Venice sent them back the skull just a few decades ago.

Martina then took us into the cathedral. We couldn’t enter unless our knees and shoulders were covered, so I had packed a skirt and scarf in my bag. The inside of the cathedral was beautiful, and filled with tiled mosaics made from glass. I can’t believe somebody took the time into creating something so detailed.

As we exited the cathedral, we heard the clocks begin to chime. Martina led us to the front of the clock tower, and we watched mechanical figures strike the bell. The face of the clock was amazing; it showed the moon phases, and astrological signs! Martina told us that the makers of the clock had been blinded afterwards, so that they could not replicate their work in any other city.

After we watched the clock, Martina took us on a walk through the backroads of the city. We got to see an ancient family house, called “The Snail House”. It had a gorgeous winding outdoor staircase, which is completely off limits to everybody.

Next, we headed to a glass museum, and watched a man blow glass and create a vase. It was like magic! My favorite part of the museum was all of the chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. They were so elegant, and intricately designed. One of them cost $28,000!

Pictures from Guided Tour (Slideshow)

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The tour ended after the glass factory, and we had some time to kill before our gondola excursion. I went to grab a snack; I had gelato in mind, but ended up having a fruit tart. It was pretty good! I hadn’t been having much fruit the past few days, so the raspberries and strawberries was a welcome change.

After eating, we met with Fabrice and he took us to the gondola station. There were 5 people to each gondola. We all enjoyed the ride so much!!! And, we got some beautiful pictures as well. We found out towards the end of the ride that there had been a dog on the back of the gondola the whole time!

When we disembarked, Fabrice was waiting for us with a bottle of Prosecco – which is a sparkling white wine & sometimes referred to as Italian champagne. It was so good! After drinking the wine, we had a few more hours of free time.

Today, I decided to join a group instead of wandering the city by myself. First, we went to get food – I had a caprese-prosciutto sub – and then we bought a ticket that gave us access to 3 museums. We first went to an art museum, which was mostly filled with pictures of Mary and Jesus.

We also visited the Doge’s Palace; a beautiful, Venetian Gothic style building. One of my favorite parts was the  “Golden Staircase”. When you get up to the top and turn around, you can see the beautiful golden tile mosaics; such a beautiful sight. We got further into the building, and were greeted by beautiful paintings on the ceiling – depicting what I assume are scenes from Venetian history. The rooms were so grand, and we took loads of pictures. There were also huge windows that opened up to a wonderful view of Venice.

As we were exiting, we walked through a covered bridge, and could see lots of tourists across the way taking pictures. I realized that I was inside of a bridge that I had been taking pictures of earlier in the day!

Pictures from Free Time (Slideshow)

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After we finished the palace, we decided not to go to any other museums. Instead we went to look for the Rialto Bridge, which Fab said was definitely worth a visit. We had a hard time getting there; the back roads of Venice are very twisty and turning. But, it was really cool seeing the variety of shops as we walked by. There were some high end shops, such as Prada and Miu Miu. There were a number of cafes and gelato shops.. But, my favorite kind of shops to look at were the mask shops! The masks looked like something out of the ballroom scene of Labyrinth, or the Masquerade in Phantom of the Opera.

When we finally got to the Rialto bridge, it was a little disappointing. The bridge was so crowded with tourists – very pushy ones – and I couldn’t get to the front. I’m so short, so all I saw was the back of people’s heads. Oh well, at least getting there was quite an adventure!

After the Rialto fiasco, we had to head back to our meeting point – the bell tower. Right before meeting, I stopped in a corner store and picked up a bottle of limoncello. I know it was overpriced, but the bottle was beautiful. I want to do something creative with it, but I’m not sure what yet.

After everybody was at the bell tower, we got onto another boat. This one was much bigger, thankfully! We had a very enjoyable cruise back to shore.

Once we were back to the mainland, we took a bus to the hotel and had an hour and a half to get ready for our next excursion: wine tasting! We left for the wine tasting at 6:15, and drove out to the country. It was about a 40 minute drive. When we arrived to the winery. the owner gave us a brief tour. It was so cool seeing the different kinds of grapes! He also took us to the vats, and explained how the fermentation process works. Then, he lead us to a large dining room, and the smell of Italian food was wafting from the kitchen. A woman began bringing out appetizers: bread, cheese, olives, and pizza. We tried several different wines during this time; I believe they were Prosecco, Rosé, Pinot Blanc, and Malbec. Dinner was pasta with primavera sauce, and for dessert, we had what seemed to be marscapone berry bites, with Moscato. The Moscato was delicious; it almost tasted like Fanta.

Throughout the delicious meal, an older Italian man kept coming in and singing opera for us. He was actually quite good! After the dinner, I went to their store, and purchased a bottle of Moscato for 10 Euros. I can’t wait to have more!

Afterwards, we went on the bus and headed straight back to the hotel. I had to pack, because tomorrow is Verona and Switzerland! That’s it for my Venice adventures. Ciao!

 

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