Venice Sept 23, 24, 25, 26 Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday

There are some problems with this. I'm still working on it but decided to publish anyway.

Sept 23 Friday - Train from Budapest to Venice. We made the critical 7:10am train in Budapest. After about a 2 1/2 hour ride we arrived at Wein Meidling station. We have a half hour layover. We got our bags together and got ready to disembark when the train doors closed and the train took off! We were on our way to Vienna Westbanhof station. Oh my God! As we rode we figured out that we might be able to take the Metro back from Westbanhof to Meidling station! We arrived at Westbanhof, jumped off the train and ran for the Metro. We'd been in the station a couple times before so sort of knew our way around. We grabbed a couple tickets and ran for line 3. Whoops it's line 6 that we need. Ran to line 6 and after asking three different people we jumped on the Metro. Three stops later we jumped off at Meidling! We ran for our train. Luckily we had heard an announcement at Meidling the first time that our train is on platform 6. We made it. But we began running for the end car thinking it was first class. A conductor sent us back to car 1. We got on with about two minutes to spare!
   We had a 4 1/4 hour ride through beautiful mountainous country. The tunnels were amazingly long. We arrived at Villach Austria and found our bus. We got on this crowded stuffy bus. We were supposed to be facing each other but instead ended up facing another couple. It was quite uncomfortable. After about three hours the bus stopped and about half the people got off including the opposing couple. After that it was a rather OK ride. We finally pulled into Venice Mistre station which is on the mainland. Our ticket indicated this was our stop. Oh no, we are going to have to take a shuttle to Venice! Deb asked the driver and he said just get back on the bus because I'm going to Tronchetto station on the island. Whew!

We arrived at the Tronchetto bus area. There was a people mover there to take us close to the train station over the Calatrava bridge. The directions to our room have us passing in front of the train station. We did that and continued on until we found a bridge, turned left along a canal until we found our place "Palazzo Cendon". It turned out to be an old place but nicely refurbished. The plan is to stay in a room with no canal view and then the next day move to a "nicer" room with a canal view. The room was quite nice, quite roomy and the bathroom had a good shower. The hotel is fairly close to the train station so considered a less desirable area but we found it to be just fine and perhaps a bit quieter then other areas. It's a pretty good hike to St. Mark's Square.

We were quite tired. We opened the free bottle of wine in our room and had a glass. We hiked out and looked things over. We found a place to eat near the bridge and next to the canal. A touristy place but quite good. I think Deb ordered a bottle of prosecco, her favorite champagne-like drink. I had a half carafe of red wine. We had fish and gnocchi.

Back to the hotel and bed.

Sept 24 Saturday - Our hotel breakfast is not so hot. Proving once again that people along the Mediterranean don't understand breakfast.

We decided to take RS mp3 vaporetto tour down the Grand Canal. The vaporetto is an expensive (E6.5 one trip) bus-boat. The line was long and confusing. We finally got on the #2 going the wrong way. It crossed the canal where they kicked us off and directed us to a #2 going the correct way, so at least we were at the very beginning of the run. We listened to the commentary as we cruised down the canal stopping every little way to pickup and drop off passengers. Venice is beautiful. Every view is stunning. Interesting buildings, pretty colors and the wonderful canal and all the boat traffic - vaporetto's, gondolas, supply boats, personal boats, water taxi's, etc. A constant hubbub of energy.
   An interesting fact as you look at the buildings. The lowest floor is for storage like a basement, the next floors are for the family and have large windows. The top floor has small windows and is where the servants live and where the kitchen is in case of fire. Hopefully just the top floor will burn. We were on the servants floor.

We exited just past St Mark's square. As we hiked back we went over the bridge with a view of the "Bridge of Sighs". Oh my God! They've ruined it. It has been hijacked to be part of an advertisement. Terrible! We continued on to St. Mark's square. The crowds were unbelievable, mostly tour groups from all over the world. The line for the church was hundreds of yards long. It was impossible.
   But we hadn't planned on going in at this time so we started our walk to the Acadamia Museum and Peggy Guggenheim's museum. It was a colorful walk. I had planned to take the Traghetto to cross the Grand Canal. Unfortunately we walked past it and didn't want to return so we kept on walking down these wonderful tiny twisty streets over various small canals looking in windows until we found the wooden Academia bridge and on to the Academia museum. 

The Academia is a worthy museum. We were ready to get tickets and stand in line. They only let 300 people in at a time. I went to the ticket window - no line. In fact no fee, it's free today. We got the tickets and walked right in. It was not crowded. We took our time looking at the fine art.
   After this we went over to the Peggy Guggenheim museum which is close by. Another interesting collection. We took our time looking at it.

We now started the trek back to our place. Venice is supposed to be very walkable but after being on our feet so much today and the crowds that slow you down it was a pretty challenging hike. Though absolutely beautiful as you pass many churches, pass over many canals, see many shops and open air cafes. We stopped at a cafe at some point where we shared a pizza, water and a drink.

We passed over the Scalzi bridge near our canal and finally made it home. Our stuff had been moved to another room. This room is overlooking a fairly large canal. Looking out the window was fascinating! Watching the boats and vaporetto's go by, the cafes along the canal, people strolling, the buildings across the way. An absolutely beautiful view through three small windows.

We rested up and went out to eat at a place near us on the canal. So beautiful and fun. Deb had gnocchi and prosecco again. I had gnocchi too followed by a Lemonocello. Then to bed.

Sept 25 Sunday - Much fun looking out the window watching the tables and umbrellas being set up, people walking their dogs, delivery boats and vaparetto's cruising the canal. Our new room doesn't have a proper shower but I'll live. The breakfast was once again rather dreadful.

We went to the train station to confirm our train reservation. There was some communication goof up and they had us leaving today instead of tomorrow. I had to hassle that problem. Deb noticed the tobacchi stand sold vaporetto tickets so we bought two so we could avoid the long hike back from San Marco Square. We also missed the long ticket line at the vaporetto stop. 

We lounged around the bar next to the canal and rested up before starting our big day around noon. Now off on our hike to San Marco Square. As we hiked along I wanted to take a Traghetto across the canal. Darn, it looks like they don't run on Sunday. The walk was beautiful and fun though very crowded. We are going along the canal. We came to the Rialto Bridge which is a famous beautiful bridge over the Grand Canal. We had been warned that eating here is a tourist ripoff and very expensive. As we passed we eyed a perfect table right on the Canal facing the bridge, a classic setting. An aggressive waiter flagged us and indicated this could be our table. We bit. It was magnificent, the photos show it - canal traffic, gondolas, seagulls, beautiful views OMG. For lunch Deb had "fruit of the sea" spaghetti and prosecco. I had spaghetti carbonara and a glass of wine. Wonderful and expensive.

We continued our hike to San Marco Square. It appeared we had run across a nest of breeding gondolas. We went to the Correr museum on San Marco Square to buy our tickets as suggested by RS and avoid the line at the Doge's Palace. For some reason the people here liked and remembered us. We easily entered the Doge's Palace and looked it over in detail. Here they have the largest painting on canvas in the world.
   Going to the attached prison you can look out of the Bridge of Sighs. Prisoners would look out here at their last view of freedom and sigh.
   We then went to the church of San Marco which is free to enter. After a brief scan we got tickets to the upper levels and museum. This was really fantastic. The views were outstanding. We found the horses on the front of the church are reproductions, the originals are inside. They were possibly cast during the time of Alexander the Great - 400BC! An amazing story. Views inside the church and the museum were great! Well worthwhile.
   We then went back to the Correr museum, where they welcomed us back, and toured that. It was a very deserving museum. Many interesting collections including armor, coins, Venetian art, etc. An extensive collection. No pictures because the guards were very diligent.

We were pretty tired. We had our vaporetto tickets so we went to the vaporetto stop and tried to figure it out. We really wanted #2 but it was crowded and the first one seemed to be going the wrong way. I noticed another one had the stop near our room on our canal so we got on that. Whoops, this one immediately started off across the Canal and in fact did not go up the Grand Canal! I was pretty sure we would get where we wanted to go. I had wondered why the train station seemed to be the stop before our stop. It was a different tour then most tourists see. Other passengers assured us we'd get where we were going. We did get there after quite a long and interesting ride.

We took a break at our bar with a couple spritzes then had dinner at the same place as yesterday. I had pizza and Deb had gnocchi again. The place I wanted to eat was closed on Sunday.

Sept 26 Monday - We packed up and hiked over to the train station and got on our train to Florence.

Comments -

- I think we pretty much did Venice. Two full days seems like enough.
- Venice is the worlds most beautiful city.
- Watching the traffic on the major canals is just wonderful.