Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We're back! Time to dish... Venice!

Well, after a little over two weeks of traveling in Italy and Greece, we're finally back and ready to tell the tale.  I'm going to start from the very beginning, so this series may run for quite a few posts.  I have lots of photos and even a couple of videos to share.  Overall, the trip was a great success and we even still have some money left!  Though Bill and I suffered injuries, illnesses, and indignities over our two weeks abroad, we're feeling pretty good.  So, without further ado, here's the story of our trip!

Getting underway via RDU...  

Bill and I left for RDU after dropping off our dogs, Zane and Arran, at the Sandhills Pet Resort.  Zane had been to the resort several times, but it was Arran's first time.  I think they must have had a good time, since we got no emails about them while we were gone.  Last time we boarded our dogs was when our beloved MacGregor suddenly decompensated while we were in Scotland, so I'm glad to know that all apparently went well.


This truck we saw on the way to the airport had sticker that says "I love rednecks"...

We arrived at RDU on the afternoon of May 5, prepared to catch a late afternoon flight to Philadelphia. After a quick stop at Gordon Biersch for sandwiches and beer, we headed to the US Airways gate from which our flight was supposed to depart.  It was at that point, we realized something was amiss.  I had a missed call on my cellphone.  It turned out our flight was delayed.  This was a bad thing for us, because we had to pick up our flight to Venice and there wasn't any time to waste.  Fortunately, another US Airways flight that was supposed to depart a couple of hours earlier was also delayed and was now scheduled to leave at about the time our original flight was supposed to go.  We scrambled to get on that now very full flight and were successful, but we ended up being separated.

Being separated turned out to be a good thing for me, since I ended up sitting next to a very nice lady from Raleigh who was going to Delaware for the week.  She turned out to be a world traveler like me, though she had not been to Italy.  We chatted for the whole hour it took to get to Philly and she wished us a nice trip.  I was actually glad I got to hang out with her.  It got the trip off to a nice start.



Bill says "Cheers!"

The flight to Venice...

So we got on the plane to Venice with time to spare.  I was a little nervous about the flight, since I figured there must be a reason they call US Airways "US Scareways".  But, aside from not being quite as generous with beverages and having no personal monitors on the back of the seats, the US Airways flight to Venice was relatively uneventful.  I did, however, start my period.  That made the flight and the first days of our trip kind of icky.

We landed in Venice at about 9:30 am and picked up a water taxi that Bill had pre-arranged.  We had to haul our big bags to the dock, which was a bit of an ordeal, and the water taxis are expensive.  However, it was quite a nice way to re-enter Venice after a 15 year absence.


Back of the water taxi...



The view from where I was sitting...

The last time I was in Venice, it was August 1997.  It was brutally hot and I was broke.  This time, we were headed for a night at the lovely Hilton Molino Stucky hotel on the island of Giudecca.  We got the room for free, owing to cashing in some Hilton Honors Points...


This was the view from our room, which wasn't ready when we arrived.  They gave us a suite... the second best room in the entire hotel, which was fully booked.  Our room was seriously gorgeous.  It was a corner room in the "tower" at the front of the hotel and had views of the canal running past the front of the hotel.  We didn't know we would be getting this suite when we booked or when we arrived.  Indeed, we were jet lagged and slightly grumpy upon arrival and the hotel was teeming with Americans and Brits.  We expected this, of course, since it was a Hilton.

Anyway, despite the crowds, we got excellent service and that room...  In a word, wow!!!  It's a far cry from the cheap communal convent room I stayed in last time I was in Venice.



We passed the time waiting for the room at Harry's Dolci, which is very close to the hotel.  I had my very first Bellini there...  along with a very nice lunch and some bubbly...








Afterwards, we walked around Venice, but my back was killing me from having to sit up all night...


We didn't do a gondola ride because they are expensive and we still had two weeks ahead of us.  Still, they were kind of fun to watch.  We were fortunate that the weather wasn't too sticky.  Lots of big cruise ships were in town and they were fun to watch for many other reasons.  Here's a big Royal Caribbean cruise ship passing as we eat lunch...



Here are some random shots we took around Venice...









The next day, we went to Florence... but before we left, we had to get some cash.  Bill went to get some money from an ATM in a bank and somehow managed to mash the shit out of his thumb.  Two weeks later, this is what it looks like...

I can barely stand to look at it.  It was very painful at first, but he says it doesn't hurt much now.  Still.... Yecccch!!!


ETA... Just made this video of photos from Venice.  Some of the ones I used are in the blog post, but they are set to gorgeous music by a Polish guitar player we stumbled across in Florence.



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