Saturday, May 12, 2018

Trip Notes # 6: Italy

May 10, 2018

After a wonderful breakfast and with our car loaded with luggage, again we found a GPS issue. One GPS wanted us to take the coastal road to Venice while the other device kept insisting that we take the Auto-strata (freeway). Decisions made, we took the picturesque coastal road for about 30 minutes but finally acquiesced when both GPS devices "demanded" that we take the freeway.

We were "bopping along" about 70 MPH until the freeway traffic came to an abrupt stop. The freeway was being expanded and, with all of the vehicles not going anywhere, we decided to use the GPS map to get off the freeway and take paralleling country roads that would position us onto the other side of the traffic snarl.

As clever as we were, the country roads took us farther and farther away from the freeway. Although we were not lost, it was clear that it would have been better remaining on the freeway with the idea that the traffic would eventually clear up. A stranger did help us to get back on the freeway and we ended up on the other side of the mess and off we went to the Venice airport where we would return the car. The entire traffic jam and getting lost on the country roads added two hours of driving time. Oh well... 
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After returning the car, a 45 minute "Water Bus" took us into the Venice canal system where we would be dropped off at one of the many canal docks.

By a lucky fluke, the dock was steps away from our hotel and a two minute walk to the hotel where Artie and Lynn, our cruise friends, would be staying.

Location. Location. Location. We have been very fortunate with the hotel choices. All of the hotels offered spectacular views, a great breakfast, fantastic ambiance or something unique to remember.  

The Venice hotel was no different. Our bedroom looked down upon one of the main canals used by the gondolas. 

Would you like to guess how many "O solo mios" we heard sung by the gondoliers over a two day period? 

Our hotel was perfectly located. Picturesque canals, and foot bridges were everywhere and the main canal was also by our hotel.
St. Marks square was about a ten minute walk from our hotel. Walking around this area brought back a lot of memories from past visits: Crowds, pigeons, restaurant musicians competing for attention and the beautiful buildings.

Like many old European cities, there is:
The Old 

And the new

As a side note, Jerry went to Venice High School (Los Angeles City School System). The school nick name was "The Gondoliers" and the school motto was, "Rowing, Not Drifting."

We had a lovely dinner at our friend's hotel - The Gritti Palace. Jerry celebrated his birthday that evening.

Our plans for the next day was for walking the canals, spending time at the Peggy Guggenheim museum and art galleries. 

Our Friends: Art and Lynn
We also visited an ancient string instrument museum. 

 Two Sets Of Strings 

Unique Designs
An Instrument Workshop


The evening culminated with a wonderful Vivaldi and Mozart concert at a nearby church. 

Fantastic Concert!

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A quick ride on a water taxi took us to the ship: The Seabourn Ovation. 

Although we have been on other cruises, this trip is special. This is the inaugural cruise which promises to be rather special.

Arriving To Ship

Checking in prior to boarding the ship was a classy experience. 

Framed for posterity

Seabourn has a great "PR" system. We were greeted as we boarded with a "Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Rosenstein!" or "Thank you for sharing this experience with us!" How did they know who we are? The answer? The ship has a very clever system. Upon check-in, our picture was taken and put onto an ID card. That picture was quickly transmitted to the boarding area where the greeters could match a face with a name. Nice touch!

Besides the canals and beautiful buildings, Venice is also known for its masked balls and its annual carnival. Our ship left the dock in a most dramatic way. As part of a carnival theme, passengers wore masks, the ship's entertainers and an Australian opera singer (flown in for the event) along with the Seabourn Singers sang well known songs. Champagne flowed freely.

Arlene and Lynn Share The Departure Excitement

A brand new, sleek and modern ship moving past canals and St. Mark's square - music and singing projecting out over the water from the sound system -- was probably unlike any other Venice departure in recent times.  Everyone onshore was gawking as well as waving to us. 

We must have presented quite a dramatic spectacle to the onlookers on shore. This was quite an experience.

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