June 11

Monday, June 11, 2007
We “slept in” until 8am this morning…it is always hard to sleep in late in tents, I find. They always heat up so fast once the sun comes out!! I’ve never really been that good at it! Anyway, we got to do our little sleep in because of our picnic and visit to the COOP once we arrive in Venice. That was our plan before it rained all night long…
Even though it was still grey and drizzly this morning we actually ended up sticking with our plan. We bought these little croissant things in packages and sat on the bench across from the gondola service by Piazzale Roma (where the busses stop) for our little breakfast picnic. It was actually really nice. Because we felt more oriented and organized it was a lot more relaxed, and sitting there eating breakfast was pretty perfect.
We did plan #4 in my book today and it covered everything around Piazza San Marco, which is the big, famous square. We walked the same streets as yesterday, so that simplified my life a lot. It is nice to not follow a map all the time! Although, I have never been in a city where I have seen so many people with maps in hand! It is kind of funny, actually – and nice to know that the majority of people are just as lost as you are (if not more!). And, the other thing I’ve noticed is that people eat ice cream here all the time. When we arrive at 9:30 there are already people eating ice cream! Pretty cool!!
We knew we were getting close to St Marc square because of the shopping!! There started to be stores like Gucci and Prada…and lots of banks! The square took my breath away when I first saw it. It is huge and full of people and pigeons. On three sides there are buildings, office type, built by various governments over the years with classy stores on the street level. On the far end is the Basilica di San Marco, the huge Evangelist church from Alexandria in 828…and was rebuilt in 1060 following a fire. It was stunning.
I paid the 1 Euro to buy a bag of corn kernels to feed to the pigeons. It was probably the coolest thing of the day…I put a few kernels in my hand and hundreds of pigeons came flying onto my hand! It was very, very cool. They fought to get to the corn and pushed each other off in the process. I loved it!!
We went and stood in line to get into the Basilica. We didn’t pay, so we just saw the main parts of the church. It is really hard to describe because it was gigantic and beautiful. The roof and walls were tiled in gold tiles and the ceilings were insanely high and domed parts everywhere. Lots of pillars and stained glass windows and stair cases and I don’t know what else! We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but church pictures never work that well, anyway. What was cool was that the outside of the Basilica was as beautiful as the inside. And so huge. It was hard to get over.
It was way past lunch time by the time we walked over to the Grand Canal beside the Basilica. So we found some ice cream and plopped down beside the water and watched the people go by. In the process of people watching there was a gondola that pulled up with a newly wed couple in it! The couple and their photographer got out of the gondola and walked around taking pictures and stuff. It was cool to see!
We walked along the water (Riva degli Schiavoni) and saw lots of important bridges and art galleries and libraries along the way. There is a lot of shopping along here as well and Elisa bought a mask for her sister and I bought a glass necklace. Those are the two main things here – Murano glass (from one of the islands) and the carnival masks. We walked until we got to the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) where we rested our feet for a bit before making the decision to purposely get lost walking back and enjoy the sights along the way.
At one of the churches there is a Vivaldi violin concert and I really want to go. We went into the violin museum in one of the churches, which is where I heard about it. I can’t though because it ends at 10:30 and it is located in the middle of the city and I don’t want to be walking around the dark streets of Venice by myself at night!! And, the last shuttle to go back to camp is at 10:30, so I’d have to pay for a taxi and that really complicates life. I would have really liked to do something fancy like that here, but not really going to work this time. I guess that gives me a reason to come back.
We ended up finding our way back to the bus without any real problem – my sense of direction is beginning to kick in now that I understand how all the canals work!! We stopped at the COOP and spent a grand total of 5 Euros each on dinner food for tonight. I love supermarkets!!
Once back at camp we ate an early dinner so the meat we bought for the sandwiches wouldn’t get all hot in the sun! It was nice to eat at a “normal” hour for me! We had a great little picnic beside the pool before it started to rain. I did another workout (much cooler after it rains, so I didn’t die as much as yesterday!) before we played cards in the tent before bed.
Elisa knows how to walk, and I am very appreciative! It would have been really hard to do this with someone that didn’t like to walk…she is pretty good!! And we are both picture maniacs too, so that helps the situation as well!

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