We just arrived to Venice also referred to as the "City of Water". This is the second time we visited the city but the first time outside the summer vacation season. It's great that the train station is in the middle of the city. Thus we traveled from the northwest area of Italy (Milan) to the northeast coast in two hours on the bullet train.
As one walks out of the train station one is standing right in front of the Grand Canal. This one Canal weaves around the island and everything else is simply referred to as canals.
We had reserved a hotel that we could see immediately as we walked out of the station. We only had to cross one small bridge for pedestrian to get to our hotel. The hotel rates are much lower out of the summer months.
Venice is one of a series of islands that was started in 452 A.D. The current population of the Venice area is 275,000. One of many highlights of the city is that in 828 A.D. the Venetians stole the remains of the Apostle Mark from Egypt and hid them here. In 1094, a beautiful church was built to hold the remains and still known today as St. Mark's Basilica and Square. The entire Square is at times flooded by the high Fall and Winter sea tides but it does not discourage anyone from walking around here. The city puts up raisers to walk on and life continues. We were fortunate that the two days we spent here that it was low tides and clear sky. It's always wonderful to go to Mark's Square and have vino and people watch.
On our first visit to Venice two years ago we visited the main tourist visitor sites. On this trip we were on our own to walk through the many alleyways throughout the island. It's incredibly easy to get disoriented as one goes down tiny passages. Most of us carry city maps but after a while one just puts them away and let's the flow of the street take you through a journey.
One walks down streets that are seem desolate but in fact persons live in the multiple floor apartments all around you wherever you go. We walked extensively through the town for two days and we certainly missed many areas. We discovered on this trip that the street just to the left of the train station is the main tourist business area and it goes all around the outskirts of the island.
We walked it a little but we were interested in spending our time were the locals live, eat and shop. We found a local market and bought ourselves several bottles of local wine. We were planning to take some home and give it to our friends but unfortunately Italy inspires one to enjoy it here. Sorry amigos! Next time perhaps!
It's quite easy to see why many have a romantic view of Venice. You seldom see anyone using their cell phones and pads. Couples walk around holding hands and looking for passages and walkways. In remote areas there a tiny quaint restaurants and one sits and enjoys the ambiance. People also relax in the main plazas and enjoy talking to each other. The enchantment is that one's daily normal world slips into oblivion. One is invited by the lovely surroundings to disengage from one's reality and enter an enchanting environment.
We increase our senses of smell, sound and sights. One feels the crispness of the ocean breeze as we stand on one of the bridges enjoying each other. One bundles in warm clothing and huddles together with your partner as you walk hand-in-hand and letting the compass of the heart take over.
Sometime in the evening hours one takes a beautiful gondola ride through the Grand Canal and the small ones. Most persons reserve them at St. Marks Square but one can actually rent them for one or two hours throughout the Grand Canal area.
Venice is a city that invites one to get in touch with time and embrace ones inner self. One comes with open eyes and warm heart and one will feel the powerful currents of love and romance that are all around.
Well the day arrived where we checked out of the hotel in order to board our ship that is docked in Venice. We hauled our luggage over to the bus area, caught the people mover and once we got off we were greeted by a bus from the Princess Cruise line to take our luggage and us for free directly to the ship.
While we will be on board for 28 days, we viewed our cruise as being two parts. The first one was the segment of exploration. We stopped in six European countries (Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and Spain; -- port stops). In the second leg of our journey we were at sea for ten days as we cross the Atlantic Ocean. Our cruise would end as we docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We made one day stop as we were crossing. We stopped on the island of Madeira (belongs to Portugal).
All the countries we are visiting, except Turkey, use the same currency which is the Euros (symbol for euros is Ôé¼). The exchange rate is approximately Ôé¼1.00 per $1.34 Items in Europe are relatively more expensive than in the US. What makes it expensive is that sales taxes throughout European countries are considerably higher and normal gasoline prices ranging from $7 to $10 per gallon. Many European countries have to import all their oil. When there is political disruption and unrest in the Middle East region which supplies the oil, it immediately impacts and raises the prices of petroleum and natural gas to the public and raises prices all across the economy.
We left the port of Venice at 10:00 am and went out to sea via the Grand Canal on the Ruby Princess. Many of us took pictures of St. Mark's Square from the cruise ship perspective.
We proceeded southeasterly on the Aegean Sea to visit two different sites in Greece over two days.
Next ports of call was the city of Athens and then the islands of Mykonos and Delos.