Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Venice, Italy

The next stop on our European tour was Venice, where we arrived on Boxing Day. Venice is unlike any city I've ever been to, it almost didn't seem real! The canals and boats and everything were very beautiful, as were many of the buildings that we saw. We rest the first day we were there,, except for a bit of exploration. It's very easy to get lost in Venice! But, luckily our senses of direction got us through.

This is a shot of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge in central Venice. It was very cold on the canals, but also very picturesque. You can also see some gondolas. Sarah and I decided not to do a gondola ride because 1. It was freezing and 2. it was over 80 euros!! Way too expensive for two students.
San Marco Square is one of the Must-Sees of Venice. There you can find the Basilica and the Doge's Palace (see below). We didn't go into the palace until the last day we were ther, but we did explore the outside early in our trip. Isn't is unbelievable?
One day we were there, we went to see the Jewish Ghetto. It was amazing to think that thousands of Jews lived in two tiny squares, cut off from the rest of Venice for many, many years. Now, there are only a few Jewish families still living in this section of city, but it was very interesting to go into the synagogues which were used in secret centuries ago. We even saw one just as it was in the 1500's! I've seen plenty of churches in my travels, but not many synagogues, so it was really cool to experience.

Being December, it was very cold and cloudy in Venice, but we did have one sunny day!

We took a day to visit some of the islands, and took a Vaporetto boat out to them. It was a lot cheaper than a gondola, but we got the same views!
Our first stop was Murano, home of the famous Murano Glass. We got to see a glass blowing demonstration as well, which was definitely a highlight of the trip. It's amazing how they can get the glass to form so many different shapes. Even life size insects!!
After Murano, we took another Vaporetto boat line to Burano, home of the famous Burano Lace. I absolutely loved the houses there! Everyone was a different color. I imagine that in the summer, it would be very bright and cheery.

On our last day in Venice, we headed back down to San Marco Square to go into the Basilica and into the Doge's Palace. As you can see from the picture below, Venice was having a bit of a flooding problem. They put out these boards for people to walk on, but luckily the water wasn't that high.
The Doge's Palace was a definite highlight. It was so cool to learn about the government of Venice and see where Casanova was held. He was actually a pretty awesome dude. He was held there because he was "disturbing the peace" but befriended one of the guards and was able to to get a knife from him. From there, he carved a hole in the ceiling of his cell, climbed out and hid in the rafters. He couldn't get out because the doors had been locked from the outside. So, the next morning, he waited for the guards to open the doors to the palace, and he burst out as soon as they were unlocked. He literally walked out the front door!

Below is the Golden Staircase, isn't is beautiful?

To be completely honest, Venice was not my favorite place I have visited. It was no where close to being as nice as Salzburg, I have a feeling I may like other Italian cities more. But I'm very glad I went (especially before it sinks). Belgium next!!

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