We left on Monday, September 13 around noon from Rochester. Both flights, from Rochester to Atlanta and Atlanta to Venice were very good and on-time, although the food in coach was tolerable (or less), and the movies provided were marginal, on small, overhead screens. We did sleep some, but have felt the jet lag today.
As we started our descent into Marco Polo Airport, we raised the window shade and were treated to an astonishing view of crossing the Alps! Since the airport is on the mainland, we had to take some sort of boat to Venice from the airport (or a shuttle bus to the parking lot at the end of the connecting causeway), so we chose the water bus, the Alilaguna, for 13 Euros each. It felt surprising to be on a boat , and the journey over and down the Grand Canal to our hotel was slow and picturesque - so much traffic - motor boats, passenger "buses", gondolas, cargo gondolas! To our surprise, we got out of the airport and to the hotel in an hour and a half. It has been a glorious sunny and warm day.
Our hotel was happy to see us, and said our room would be ready in an hour, so we changed into sightseeing clothes, consulted their cool map, and set out on foot toward St, Mark's Square. The guidebooks say that the best way to see Venice is to walk the little alleys and streets, going over little stone bridges over the smaller side canals - and getting lost - which is exactly what we did. The vaporetto (canal boat) is more efficient, but not nearly as much fun as walking around.
We did finally get to St. Mark's Square, and it was very crowded - a cruise ship was in, as well as the inevitable tour groups en masse. Our first stop was the Correr Museum, in an old and huge palace along the square, full of fascinating artifacts and history of Venice which ruled the Mediterranean for several centuries before the Age of Exploration outside of the Mediterranean. It was also a good place to start and pict up the San Marco Museum Pass which we had ordered ahead of time.
This pass covered the Doges Palace at the other end of the square, and was the home of the ruler of Venice (the Doge). The Senate and ruling council met here too, and the rooms are vast (one as big as our entire lot in Webster), decorated with amazing Renaissance art, but almost barren of furniture. The tour route covered the prison area, which was a bit creepy, especially since we got lost down there and started to have an all-too-realistic sense of being stuck there forever!
Around noon, we found a cafe off St. Mark's Square where we had lunch and cappuccino, which helped alleviate the jet lag meal schedule. St. Mark's Basilica was too overwhelming to try today, and we were exhausted, so we took the vaporetto back up the Grand Canal to out hotel, where we have a gorgeous room overlooking the canal itself, and a tiny balcony too. At that point we could only fall into bed for a few hours which gave us energy to continue on to dinner, which was late, long, and delicious at an outdoor restaurant within walking distance from our hotel, where we sat next to a couple from England who were very enjoyable. Before dinner we witnessed a flotilla of gondolas passing by our room. Be sure to watch the video.
Venice is quite a culture shock, with its lack of cars - and streets for them! All travel is by water or on foot, and that certainly gives the city a special character! What an amazing place!