When John Lazati and I reached Venice at the end of our Star Princess cruise, the ship sailed majestically up the lagoon past San Marco Square and was the largest structure in Venice while it was there. We arrived south of town, and we went back and forth to San Marco on the shuttle with a shuttle. We spent the first night in Venice aboard the ship.
On our fistful afternoon in Venice, while still on board, we quickly found our hotel and headed for Harry's Bar. We had two martinis, each served in very small glasses. We tried one straight up and one on the rocks. There is a small bar and a sprinkling of tables in a not very large room. I bought a copy of Arigo Cipriani's book, called "Harry," the life and times of legendary Venice. "The book was nineteen euros and the four drinks were sixty-nine euros, a total of $ 132.00. A later visit with one drink each cost us 56 euros or $ 84.
For five nights we stayed at Best Western Albergo San Marco for 583 euros (about $ 874 each). We had separate rooms. The hotel was a few steps from San Marco Square. Unlike the breakfast in Rome, the breakfast provided was very basic – no hot food and a very limited amount of other offers that did not differ.
We ate lunches and dinners in small places that were very reasonable. Often restaurants called themselves pizzerias, but had a full menu of Italian food. The homemade white wine was equally good, the breads were delicious, and we often drank delicious pizzas at lunch. We never looked for or needed expensive restaurants and were always pleased with the places we found just wandering the streets. Most of the assistance came from non-Italians with a number of locations in Bangladesh.
We wandered alone in different parts of the city, starting at about ten and then returning to each other for lunch at two. Often we get lost, but it was the fun of it, getting lost in the labyrinth and labyrinth that is Venice, and making all kinds of discoveries: a new church, a beautiful campo, a fish market near Rialto Bridge or a cafe with a delicious pastry. John L. opened a universal coin shop near Rialto and found some good purchases.
We were in Venice from November 8, 2007 to November 14, 2007 and sometimes had very cold weather, freezing of bones and penetrating humidity at night, but the city made you forget the cold with its beauty and uniqueness. Late October and early November are good times because you avoid the huge hordes of high season. Dad's advice to the city: Stop selling pigeon food in San Marco Square and reduce these thousands of pigeons. They fly at people, leave discards, throw feathers, and are a nuisance.
Venice is a magical dream city, unreal and airy. We will remember scenes at night through the canals, the Bridge of Sighs, Bachino, the canal canals, the Rialto Bridge, the reflections of the sinking canal houses, the Grand Canal, the colonnades, the Baroque churches with great art, the quiet secret gardens, the monasteries, the stone wells everywhere, the symbols of the lions and the Doge's Palace. We toured Doge's Palace and actually crossed the Bridge of Sighs and saw the prison cells. Two glorious churches among the hundred are the Sant Giovanni de Paolo and La Basilica della Salute (the dome currently covered with skeletons).
Venice is a drowning city, but its glory lives on in your memory forever: the library in San Marco Square, the marble statue, palace, campos, carnival objects in scary costumes and masks, magical sunsets, a shining city where life is more unique than in any other city in the world. People began drinking espresso at Cafe Florian in 1720.
We went to the vapore lime tree and strolled along the beach outside the hotel, where von Aschenbach bumped into a Polish boy of fourteen years at Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.
Libreria's bookstore "Acqua Alta" with used books, distributed in two large rooms, is touted as the most beautiful bookstore in the world. In addition to all the shelves, in one room is a full-size gondola laden with books, and in the other room another large boat full of books.
One day, I visited the Vivaldi Museum, crossed the Academy Bridge, and went to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. It is housed on the Grand Canal in an unfinished palace, which in itself is a work of art. In the beautiful sculpture garden, Peggy Guggenheim is buried with fourteen of her favorite dogs; the stone gives them names and dates. The museum boasts several canvases by Jackson Pollock, so I bought a tie there with a Pollock motif.
An interesting art gallery near her museum is Bac Art Studio, where you can be greeted by owner Jack Russell, who insists you throw him a ball to pick it up. You will wear out before you do. I stupidly asked the owner if the dog spoke English and the owner replied that he understood English but did not speak it. "I don't think dogs in America speak English, either," he said.
In Venice, we discovered the Irish Inishark Tavern, where we met British and Irish tourists. This gave us something to do in the evening as we did not want to go to operas at La Fenice or string quartets at various venues.
Many years before I arrived and left Venice by train, which is a pretty easy maneuver to stop the vapors at the station. This time we arrived in town by boat and had to leave by plane. We wondered how we would handle our heavy bags. In the morning from departure we ordered a water taxi. One bell pulled our two large bags behind us and led us across San Marco Square to a water taxi on the wave just outside the Baglioni Hotel.
A water taxi was hooked and our bags were loaded on board. We sat in a comfortable cabin that could easily hold twenty people. The boat was a mahogany motorboat, resembling old Chris Kraft. We scoured one canal, then another and went out on a big waterway behind Venice. It took us half an hour with the throttle wide open to reach the dock outside the airline terminal. The trip was 100 euros and we took the boatman an extra twenty for a total of $ 180.
When landing the boat, a sign stated that you could wait for the shuttle or take the seven minutes walk to the terminal entrance under a covered pedestrian walkway. We used to pull our wheel bags behind. We had seen Rome, enjoyed a Star Princess cruise and treated ourselves to the visual temptations of Venice. Now was the time to head home via JFK. Bye, Venice.