Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Venice Day 1 - Tuesday, June 23rd

Tuesday June 23, 2009 – Venice Day 1

Pictures are HERE.

As we left the airport, it was around 10:30 am Venice time. We took this awesome water taxi to the hotel. Venice has mainly water streets made of canals, and there is no way to drive to the hotel. You have to take a water taxi which is a cab on water. The Grand Canal is beautiful, and it was amazing to see the awesome architecture. We wondered what the different colors meant on the poles outside some of the buildings, and we later found out that the main families have (mainly in the past) colors that represent the family, and everyone associated with the family wore the color (staff, children, etc). The poles represent the colors. At one point, the colors were banished as they didn’t want different classes. The areas of Venice are diverse, and you will see nice houses and less nice houses all in the same area. This was by design to prevent class conflict.
We checked into the hotel, but we couldn’t yet get into our room.

We checked our 14 bags into the holding room, and we went off to lunch. We walked left as the hotel suggested, and we crossed over three bridges and kept looking for this area they referred us to for lunch. We never found it, so we stopped at a small little restaurant. It was really good. Mike and Tracy came to meet us at the restaurant, and papa and Mark were saying to tell them to turn left from the hotel and to cross three bridges. They couldn’t find it (not that I would think they could with those directions), so Morgan and I went to meet them. We went to the hotel and showed them the way. They had been in Venice already for a couple of days, and they had turned the rental car in at the airport and taken a water taxi in. Unfortunately, their luggage had not been found, so they were hoping American Express would help. I had Minestrone soup, and a lot of the family had lasagna. They said it was awesome. Morgan got gelato at the restaurant, but she didn’t like it. She got some from next door and loved it.

After lunch, we did a tour of St. Mark’s square and the Doge palace. Mike and Tracy didn’t go as they needed to go shopping. Our guide was really nice to Morgan which helped a lot. We spent most of the time in the Doge palace, and we saw a lot of art work, the senate room, the waiting room, a 24 number clock, and some amazing architecture and history. I loved the place where people could secretly turn people in for tax evasion or other things. There was a face, and you would stuff the signed accusation into the mouth. If it wasn’t signed, they would throw it away. There were three people who read them and did an investigation if needed. They would talk with stones in their mouths to keep others from knowing who they were and what they said. They had different places for different offenses. Venice was an oligarchy which means that they had a large group of people who ran the government, but it wasn’t everyone like in a democracy. The Doge had to act important, dress nicely, and eat fancy foods in public and around others, but inside the palace, he could wear and eat what he wanted. He didn’t really have any power, but he was a symbol and had to act as one.

The prison was underneath the palace, and there is a bridge where the prisoners would be passing over and could see the city and their families. It is called the Bridge of Sighs. The prison was pretty neat to see, and it was interesting to imagine what it was like in the past.
After the Doge palace, we went to the St. Mark’s Church. It had some incredible stained glass and was really beautiful. The floor tilts and has cracks from where it has settled. It is amazing to see these places and hear the stories from 2000 years ago and realize how young the USA is. Even though you know it, it is a different thing to see the places and have it sink in. After the tour, Morgan talked Grams into another Gelatto.

Once our rooms were ready, they were really, really nice. We stayed in the Westin, and the rooms had a couch, huge closet, and a nice bathroom. Morgan even got her own bed.
For dinner, we went in search of a pizza place recommended by the hotel. The waitress said that the pizzas served one, but when they came, they were HUGE. So, we had a LOT of pizza. Morgan had double pepperoni (it said hot salami instead of pepperoni which caused issues at first), and she liked it. I had ham, tomatoes, and cheese. Mike had lobster fettuccine.
Morgan got two blocks of chocolate on the way back, and she was in heaven. She had to give up a third serving of gelato to get the chocolate, but I think it was worth it.

Mike and Tracy wanted to go to the bar after dinner, so we hung at the cool (but very expensive) hotel bar for a while. Morgan even hung with us which was fun. Mike and Tracy got upgraded to a super cool huge room with two floors. The upstairs was a loft with a desk, and the downstairs had a living room with an enormous chandelier. Then, there was a different room as the bedroom.

We closed the bar down, and went to our rooms. I took Ambien to make sure I could sleep. It is amazing how you can be so tired during the day and then be WIDE awake at night.

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