I expected Venice to smell, but I didn’t think it would almost knock me over. The problem was this. We’d walked and walked on empty stomachs, and the tangy spiciness of pizza and the aroma of freshly ground coffee was terribly tantalizing. Venice smelled heavenly!!
$ wanted to run, so John ran with him through the crowded streets. $ stopped to get his breath, put up his arms to be picked up, nestled into his dad’s arms and said, “Run!!”
Venice has a perpetual carnival atmosphere, because everyone walks (no cars allowed), stalls and shops glitter with cheap glass souvenirs, tourists in high spirits surge through narrow passages, and restaurants lure people in for gastronomic treats.
We liked the large trolleys that porters use. Large wheels are toward the middle and small ones on the end so they can be levered and rolled over the steps spanning the canals.
We saw a demonstration of glass blowing on the island of Murano. At first the glass was a red-hot blob, then vase-shaped, reheated and put in a mold, blown again, heated, shaped, then flattened into a plate! The children loved taking the water taxi there.
Tourists were so thick once in San Marco plaza that we could hardly move. St. Mark’s was also thronged with tourists. The mosaic floors were so uneven that we thought we’d get sea sick if we walked on them long enough. The marble pillars, balustrades, and mosaics were second only to the gold mosaics in all the domes. Still, the basilica has an intimate style, and you could see how the antiphonal choirs used by Monteverdi would be purely delightful.
Though we’d not drunk any water in Italy, $ got diarrhea in San Marco. I had supplies with me, John found a secluded alley, and we changed the mess on someone’s doorstep, carefully removing our debris afterwards. Lisa spotted a sign that said, “Do not abandon any litter.” We didn’t.
The Ducal Palace beside St. Mark’s was full of precious paintings and Baroque golden ceilings. Those rooms were as sumptuous as any at Windsor Castle or Hampton Court. The tour ended with a long walk doubling back on itself through seemingly endless dungeons.
Bus service is by big boat, either regular or express. John grasped the idea of the system and could get us from one place to another easily.
I liked the road signs in Venice – international symbols posted for boats on the canals. It was odd to see “no entrance” signs on bridges, “no turn” signs at corners, and traffic lights over the water at blind junctions! I had wondered why motorboats sometimes passed on the left and other times on the right. It’s because gondolas are paddled on only one side and must be given room to maneuver. Two powered boats pass port to port; a gondola passes a motorboat starboard to starboard.
Easter Sunday at St. Mark’s in Venice!! John agreed with my statement that for him it was a pilgrimage. We saw the bishop in his golden finery, pointy hat, and huge gold shepherd’s crook. To hear Monteverdi’s music in his home church was an uplifting experience. We laughed that John took $ duty for the service, and people insisted he have a seat with the toddler. In another part of the church, the girls and I had to stand up for the entire service, and men pinched Lise’s bottom! The hotel had also spruced up its restaurant for Easter with a huge decorated egg and lots of real ones. They were featuring lamb and fish. The children were given pieces of chocolate to eat and an egg with a face, hat and stand to take away.
We spent a long time in the railroad station satisfying certain menfolk. Lisa and I sat watching people stream by and discovered a man with a neat way of supplying the loos. He was cleaning cars and carrying a broom with toilet paper rolls stacked on the handle.
Almost as soon as we left Venice, we were in mountains. We’ve seen beautiful scenery in every country, but this was something else again. At every bend there was a new vista that you’d like to photograph and hang on the wall.
$ loved our special train ride. Because of the heights, the road ends at one town where we drove on a train of flat cars covered with wire cage-like things to travel ten minutes in a tunnel under the mountain. We drove off at the other end. It was in total darkness, darkness you could almost feel as in one of the plagues of Egypt!
On the other side of the mountains we saw a ski lift carrying people higher than we could see and many people clonking around in ski boots toting skis. Then we noticed fresh snow on the evergreen trees further up.
The Italian mountains were dry; as soon as we hit Austria, clear mountain streams were gushing down.
What contrasts in weather we had! We slept with open windows in Venice and drove through snow storms in the Alps.