This, of course, was our travel day and everything went smoothly. Our flight from Omaha to Newark was on time and we had no difficulty finding our way to the correct terminal in Newark, but it was a long walk. One bonus was getting to see the New York skyline as our plane landed – we could spot the Empire State Building and even saw the Statue of Liberty (from a long distance). We ate pizza in the airport as we waited about two hours to take off for Italy.
Our flight to Venice was, as anticipated, a long one. Previously on overnight flights, we’ve been able to get at least a little sleep. For some reason, this time we got very little. But the plane made good time (tail wind) and we landed in Venice a little early. Getting through customs was a breeze even though the lines were long.
Day 2 – Friday, May 25th
Our Italian adventure began with a water taxi ride from the airport. It was a large motor boat – seven of us, plus luggage in one boat. The boat took us across what looked like a lake, but I was told was actually part of the Adriatic Sea, and into the canals of Venice – quite a site! We landed just outside of St. Mark’s square. When we were all there we toted our bags across the square to our hotel – Hotel Cavaletto. We checked in and had a brief rest before going on tour.
We first visited a glass factory – not a lagre one, but seemingly an annex located next to St. Mark’s square, where they could make some of the glass and sell it to the tourists – very expensive but also very impressive. We watched the glass maker produce a goblet and then miraculously a glass horse.
After the glass factory, we had guided tours of ST. Mark’s cathedral and the Doge Palace. The Cathedral is the burial place of St. Mark – evidently stolen by the Venetians from Egypt. No photography was allowed inside the cathedral so I don’t have any pictures. It was an impressive structure, and as our guide explained, was different from the cathedrals we’d seen in Belgium and France in that it was a product of Byzantine style architecture.
The Doge Palace was the seat of government for the Venetians at the height of their power – walls lined with large paintings and ceilings with intricate frames and paintings as well. Part of the tour was a walk across the “bridge of sighs,” so named because the palace also housed jail cells.
After the tours, we returned to the hotel – by this time we were all exhausted. We had some time to rest before we all went to dinner at Ristorante La Terranzza, a short walk from our hotel. Our group sat at two long tables, outdoors, but very elegant (3 glasses in front of us along with three forks!) We were served a four course meal with wine and champagne. The dishes were somewhat unusual, from the prosuitto ham and melon salad, to the stuffed (not sure with what) pasta, to the main dish which was mixed vegetables and a wrapped pork tenderloin, and finally a custard desert. It all tasted good, and there was more than we could eat.
After the meal, we walked directly back to the hotel and retired for the night – it had been a long day and a long time without sleep. But I think we have adjusted to the time change.
Our first two days have gone well. Even though tired, I enjoyed the demonstration at the glass factory. The cathedral and palace were spectacular, but as usual, eventually I was suffering from sensory overload. St. Mark’s square is quite impressive. There is a gondola launch right next to our hotel, but we don’t think we’ll take one – it’s enjoyable to watch them go down the canal – and we did experience a canal ride with our water taxi.