Five-Star Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’re catching up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!
So, today is our second day in Venice. First thing is we have to return the car by about 10 am. No problem getting the car out of the lot and driving to the Hertz place to return the car. Then we were off on a water taxi (principal mode of transportation in Venice) from Piazzale Roma to St. Mark’s Square – our main destination goal for today for walking around and shopping!!! Bells chime, pigeons (some brave souls let the birds land on them!) and violins play – welcome to Piazza San Marco.
For some unknown reason, April apparently is “spring break”, holiday, season for Italians. The place was very, very crowded and we were very surprised. It wasn’t even summer season. Note the crowds in our photos. Also, take note of the platforms stacked up around St. Mark’s Square. These are laid out all over the area when it is flooded, which it does more than 35 times per year (4 times the number in 1970). We have been there when we were walking up on these platforms above water. Dick couldn’t take the crowds and therefore was not in the mood to go in and out of stores with me. But I wanted to shop! So, he went back to the ship. Therefore, I was free to buy what I wanted!! Hmmm – got some nice things!!! Anyway, I had a wonderful time and interestingly enough, after a couple hours, the crowds seemed to disperse. Don’t know where they went but they were no longer all crammed into St. Mark’s Square.
Venice is always kind of a magical city, one of the most beautiful…bordering on surreal…cities in the world. It abounds with buildings and decorations from Byzantine to Renaissance styles. The center and certainly most famous part of the city, is the Piazza San Marco (“Saint Mark’s Square”). St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Doges’ Palace are the two most important and imposing structures in Venice. The cathedral – begun about 828, reconstructed after a fire in 976 and rebuilt between 1047 and about 1071 – is an astounding example of Byzantine architecture. The palace was begun about 814 and was destroyed by fire four times. Each time it was rebuilt on an even grander scale. Two famous granite columns stand near the Doges’ Palace, both erected in 1180, one bearing the winged lion of Saint Mark and the other Saint Theodore of Stadium on a crocodile. The most conspicuous feature of the city is the bell tower of Saint Mark, which is about 300 feet high. It was built between 874 and 1150 and reconstructed after it collapsed in 1902. Bronze Moors have struck the chimes for more than 500 years. The famous Bridge of Sighs connects the palace with public prisons and was the route by which prisoners were taken to and from the judgment hall. Also in the piazzetta (St. Mark’s Square) where the square opens onto the Grand Canal, two granite columns are surmounted by city icons: St. Marks Lion and St. Theodore (see photo of columns).
Venice is a city of bridges and canals and wandering around on foot brings delightful surprises around almost every corner. Lined with almost 200 marble palaces built between the 12th and 18th centuries, Venice’s Grand Canal has been referred to as ‘the world’s finest street with the world’s finest houses’. It is about 2 miles long and winds through Venice in a backward S, serpentine fashion, from northwest to southeast, dividing the city into two nearly equal portions. No motor vehicles are permitted on the narrow, winding lanes and streets that penetrate the old city, and the bridges are for pedestrians only. For centuries the most common method of transportation was by gondola, a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a single oar. Today, the gondolas are used mainly by tourists; motor launches carry almost all the freight and passenger traffic in Venice. The Vaporetto (water bus) is the name of the passenger boat line. The #1 is the local down the Grand Canal.
There are many islands in the Venetian lagoon, but most famous are the Lido, San Michele, Murano, Burano, and Torcella. Murano is the source of the delicate Venetian glass ‘candies’. The glassworks (where we visited last time we were in Venice) were moved to the island by royal decree at the end of the 13th century because of fire hazard. On the way to Murano, you pass the cemetery island of San Michele. A decade after burial, bones are removed from the graves. Burano was famous for its fine lace. It is magnificent, as is the Murano glass!!!
Our ship sailed away about 4pm and it is a beautiful sight!!! The weather was sunny and warm so we had a great sailaway party out on the back deck!! We were once again able to wave goodbye and enjoy the sights of Venice as we sailed past. It is unique and beautiful!!!