Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cities of love… water… and glass

Today was our grand excursion to Venice. It started off as our typical morning here. We were greeted with a wake up call at 6:30 am and then off to our American buffet style breakfast. (We actually had milk today!!) We met our group at 8:10 am and then headed over to the train station. We boarded our Venice bound train scheduled to depart at 8:36 am. And then we sat. And then we slept. And then we stared at the landscape. For 3 hours we did these things! Haha. It was a very long trip in which Matt got lots of pictures. We sat with the mom and her son and had a fun time talking.

Once we got to Venice, we boarded a water taxi that took us to our restaurant; yet another 5 course meal. Geeeze, we are eating a lot over here. Each meal is practically more than Matt and I eat on an average daily basis. We had proma ham, tomato and eggplant pasta, veal scallopini with salad, and gelato for dessert. We both agree that it had to have been the most tart lemon flavor we have ever tasted. But, everything was delicious.

Today for lunch we sat with two older couples. The wives were sisters and both husbands were teachers. One in physics/chemistry and the other in British/Shakespearean lit. We had a grand time talking about Texas weather, paramedics, sports, military, and even lyme disease. Apparently in Connecticut, everybody gets lyme disease. After lunch when the women went to the bathroom, Matt and Lloyd had a big chat about Shakespearean plays. They bonded.

After lunch we met Cristina for our tour of Venice. Venice is one of the most expensive places to live in Italy. An apartment rents for 5,000 euro per square meter per month! Can you even imagine? (Just a side note, 1 dollar = 1.4 euro – or at least that is what we exchanged for before we left). Most people live outside the city in Venecia Mess – something. Haha. Can’t exactly remember what it is called. But it is basically the slums; nothing but apartments. This is where all the grocery stores are, the malls, etc. Prices here are 30% lower than they are on the main island. By the way, did you know Venice is just a bunch of small islands connected by bridges? About 117 to be exact. The Grand Canal is just the water running in between the 2 biggest islands.

Cristina took us to St. Mark’s Square. In the square, a cup of coffee costs 13 euro and a beer 18! Needless to say, we did not dine here. The cost of the item is due to the fact that it is such a high profile location. You are not paying for coffee, you are playing for the right to sit in the square. At the end of the square was St. Mark’s Basilica. Once again we were not allowed to take pictures inside. All of the art work was done in mosaic tiles. Mom (Karen) you would have loved it! The floors were all done in marble tile and were very uneven due to the shifting in Venice. Here is the burial place for St. Mark. The ceiling had 4 domes, each representing the life of Christ. The front of the church faces the east. This is for the beginning, the start of life and so the dome represented the beginning of Christ. The end of the church faced the west. This is for the end of time, and therefore death.

After the Basilica we walked out into the courtyard. We watched the bell tower and two big statues strike the bell. These statues have been ringing the bell for 500 years. Every hour on the hour. We also walked past the Bridge of Sighs. This was basically “the green mile”. Prisoners would be walked from the square to the prison over this bridge and then back over to be executed. On the building there were 2 pink columns in the midst of white ones. These columns are where the execution vote would take place. To this day no Venetian will walk under those columns.

After our tour with Cristina we had our romantic gondola ride. Because we were on our honeymoon we had the amazing opportunity to ride with musicians. We shared our ride with the young Canadian couple. The streets of water were just beautiful: the homes, the bridges, the walls even. The water did smell a bit, but it was quite easy to get used to. Our gondolier was great as well. He pointed out things like city hall, the courthouse, the homes of Marco Polo and even Mozart. This was such a relaxing and perfect afternoon ride. Matt apparently dressed for the occasion as he matched all the gondoliers perfectly!

Next we boarded our private limousine boats to the island of Murano. This place is famous for their glass blowing. We had a private tour of the factory and watched them make a vase from start to finish. It had to have been the coolest thing ever. And took the guy probably 5 minutes to make a beautiful vase. All of the glass blowers are family. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. It takes years of expertise to make even the simplest of glass works. To make more elaborate items, they work in teams of 3-4 people. Each brings their own unique expertise and secrets passed down from generations. Once finished with the demonstration, we were allowed to go into the shop. So sorry, once again, no pictures allowed. And once again Mom (Karen) this is something you would have loved. They are famous for their glass chandeliers, and we could definitely see why. They were so exquisite. We had the unique opportunity to get 50% off of the bigger items. Well these bigger items were all in the 10,000 plus range. Soooooo, no chandelier for us. However, they did agree that once we get money they would cut us a deal. Hahaha.

We left Murano and went back to the train station. On the way I did get a bit sea sick. Whats life in Venice, surrounded by water, without me getting sea sick? But we had a quick bite to eat at the station and then back on the train for another 3 long hours. This time we both slept most of the way.

Another amazing day down, several more to go. We can’t even begin to describe how wonderful everything is here. Pictures will do no justice to this place.

Oh one funny thing is that we have quite fondly become known as “Texas”, and just that. They just call us both Texas. Haha. One couple even told us yesterday that they knew they were with the right group because they could pick us out with our matching maroon shirts. They were worried today because we didn’t have distinguishing colors. Lol. But Matt had stripes on so it was a bit easier.. until we saw all the gondoliers of course.


  1. i love it hill!!! i want to go to italy now!!! we used to sell some murano glass items at the gift shop where i worked! now i know why they were so expensive!!! :)

  2. hehehe Texas huh? Thats funny! Looks and sounds like you guys are having a blast! I totally agree with Jo, i wanna go to italy now too! Also, I didn't know Matt liked Shakespeare-thats awesome! :)