Date: Monday, June 23, 2014
Time: 8:00 pm local time/2:00 pm EST
Place: Venice, Italy
We spent today in Venice and Burano (an Island that is probably still considered Venice). It was a lot of fun, but oh so very hot and sweaty.
We had breakfast in the hotel this morning. It was the traditional European breakfast: croissants and other pastries, hard boiled eggs (passed), luncheon meats and cheese (passed), corn flakes, and a hot drink. It was quite good, but not much to talk about. I had taken a shower and was wearing clean(ish) clothes, but by the time I got down to the lobby it was already hot, sticky, and nasty.
After a while we rode the water busses (vespetta?) out to the San Marco station. It was maybe a 20 minute ride. Our first stop there was at the Doge’s palace, which was the home of the Doge (the leader of Venice, who was elected for a one-year term by the richest families in Venice) and also the seat of government for the city. The building was absolutely huge, with a courtyard at least as big as a soccer field and one room that could have been a basketball court with only minor modifications.
The dungeon had at least 30 cells, with probably many more through doors that we weren’t able to go through. We got to see the armory, which was full of all sorts of old armor, swords, and guns—including a musket that had about 15 or 20 barrels (Imagine a revolver, but with each a full barrel).
After finishing up at the Doge’s palace we went to the Basilica San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica, where the Apostle Mark’s bones are supposed to be buried). Dr. Diller explained to us why it was so important to these Christians to see the bones of the saints. She said that now we have the Bible and the historical evidence behind it to say that, at the very least, Jesus was a historical person. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, however, this research didn’t exist, or if it did, it was unavailable to the common people who instead wanted to see these relics.
San Marco was a breathtakingly beautiful place, but I didn’t feel the same sense of awe that I felt at San Giorgio’s yesterday. St. Mark’s felt so busy and commercial. There were even two gift shops. The church is beautiful and significant (especially musically), but I feel that the spiritual life has gone out of it.
The inside of the church is actually much closer to what you would find in the Eastern Orthodox Church, not the Catholic Church. There are mosaics on the walls and ceilings, and the church is one large Greek cross (with all four arms of the same length) as oppose to a Roman cross (with two short arms and two long arms).
After finishing our visit to San Marco we had some free time, so both Laughlins, Joel, and I went to make our lunch. After spending quite a bit of money on food the past few days, we vowed to eat sandwiches at least once a day for a while, at least. We walked quite a ways, and found a nice little bench to sit on and make our peanut butter or Nutella sandwiches. They were very good, especially with Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. For dessert we had some very yummy hazelnut cookies (that looked sort of like Fig Newtons).
The four of us walked around the city for about an hour and a half, just exploring around the twisted alleys and tourist shops. It was a lot of fun, and it didn’t even really wear me out. We even managed to find a grocery store that sold 1.5 liter bottles of water for 48 Euro cents. That was beautiful since the night before I had paid E4.50 for a less amount of water. I drank the whole thing, and didn’t even need to go to the bathroom, which shows how dehydrated I am.
We got lost trying to find our way back to civilization, but we were able to hop on the water bus and go up about six stops (that means we really went far afield while we were exploring) and make it to our rendezvous point just as the church bell was ringing 2 o’clock.
The large group walked to a different bus stop, stopping on the way by a statue of a man on a horse. It was the oldest Equine statue since the time of the Greeks and the Romans. There are four Bronze horses from the time of Alexander the Great which were stolen from Constantinople during the fourth (?) crusade. They went to San Marco at that point, and then were stolen by Napoleon (sometime between the late 1700s and early 1800s). They were put on the l’Arc du Triomphe, but eventually were returned and are in San Marco.
We got on the water bus and travelled for a little over an hour to an island called Burano. It was quite lovely, if very touristy. The whole reason Dr. Wholers took us out there was to buy us some yummy cookies. Then he left us on our own to explore for a while. The cool thing about the city was that the buildings are very colorful. There is a puzzle of a row of houses from this city, and we found the row, and I took pictures.
I was a statue of Baldassare Gallupi, a composer that was born on Burano in 1706 and died in Venice in 1785. He made his fame and fortune in London and St. Petersburg as a composer of opera.
We came back over to the mainland, and then came back to our hotel for a chance to cool down before going for supper. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for the gelato that we never found for lunch. I had chocolate and strawberry, both of which were so yummy!
We went to a cheap/yummy Italian restaurant a little ways from our hotel. It is called Brek, and it was quite good. I got a nice little meal (a piece of vegetable lasagna, a roll, and a salad) for about E10, which is about $12-15, so not horrible. On the way back to the hotel we decided to stop for suppertime gelato, which was well worth it.
Tomorrow we move from Venice (and hopefully the hot) to Florence, which is in Tuscanny, the home of pasta. I can’t say that I’m disappointed. Venice has been just a little too hot and crowded for my tastes.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.