Our Saturday in Venice was fantastic. We ate breakfast in our hotel with eggs, bacon, assorted fruits and rolls – ate well – breakfasts are paid for. Originally we were not going to the “bell tower” as others had planned because it was a very long climb and Judy’s knee probably couldn’t do it. But it was rumored that there was an elevator so we went along. Not only was there an elevator, but they were not allowing anyone to use the steps. So, for an $8 Euro fee each, we rode to the top. We were rewarded with a breathtaking view of Venice from all four sides.
This was a “free” day, so we had no precise plans. Paul, one of our group presented us with an option of riding the “water bus” – an on/off boat that would take us to the end of the grande canal and back. A number of us embraced that option and after some searching, found the right ticket office and right option and were soon cruising the grand canal. With shops and hotels on either side, lots of other water craft (including gondolas), and the many bridges, there was lots to see. We got off at the Rialto Bridge and then back on – riding back with the Brandts we were fortunate enough to get the rear seats on the boat which are in the open air and provided the best views. I was able to get pictures and video. When we reached the “end of the line” we were forced to get off, losing our great seats, but lucky for us the next bus was new (unoccupied) and we were able to claim the prime seats again. We rode back to the San Marco (St. Mark’s square) stop.
We then took a brief break back at the hotel. Then, we went in search of staples (Diet Coke!). We again ran into the Brandts in the lobby and they were headed to a “market” that the concierge had suggested. We walked directly north (not exactly directly as these narrow streets curve and zig-zag) and ended up back at the Rialto Bridge area. We found the market and saved a bunch of Euros on $1 diet cokes. Wow! While on our walk we saw a small café that had reasonable pasta dishes and decided to go back there for dinner. We returned to the hotel and sat on one of their small “verandas” (two chairs and a table – and ash trays – smoking areas) where we were able to relax, stay cool (quite a warm day – very comfortable on the water), and watch the gondolas coming in and out of the canal by our hotel.
We met the Brandts and had dinner at The Nuova Valigia Ristorante and Pizzria. Judy had spaghetti and meatballs and Joe had lazagne. It was very good, and reasonably priced. After dinner we returned to the hotel and joined a number of our fellow travelers for social time in the hotel lounge. Many of them were attending a Vivaldi concert this evening – Judy and I and Pastor Brown elected to go back to the water bus – tickets were good for 24 hours – to take a night time ride. We saw the same sites we had viewed earlier, but this time we were on an “express” bus which actually went around the island – great views of the restaurants lit up at night. When we again returned to the San Marco port, we departed and walked back to the hotel, stopping for our first gelato on the way – decadent sweet, not quite soft serve, but not icecream. We finished our desert once again on one of the verandas. Now we are retiring for the night as Sunday morning requires an early rise – due for breakfast and church at 6:45 – we’ll see how that works out.