Originally, our cruise ship was set to dock at noon, but we were notified after we got on the cruise ship that it would not dock until 9pm. We had not booked anything for Saturday, so we just enjoyed our last full day on the ship. We enjoyed the music and even did a bit of dancing. Jerie celebrated her last full day on the ship, with a 6 egg omelette and a trip to the spa!!
The evening cruise into Venice was beautiful…
We passed the NCL Jade, which is probably why we were delayed, as they were in our docking spot. The area of Venice is really flat, reminds us of Amsterdam, except not a lot of trees and wider canals. Once we docked, we thought about getting off the ship and wandering, but we were a distance from the actual city of Venice, so thought it best to wait until the next morning. So we went to the last theatre show. They had all the musicians on the ship come together and play…it was really good.
We had a 9:25 am debarkation time so waited on the pool deck and figured out our strategy for the day. We went to the customs room and found our bags. We re-arranged back to trekking mode with the backpacks. From the ship, we walked to the “people mover” station. Due to the ship debarking, there was an insane line and you could only use Euro coins to purchase the ticket. We found a luggage storage facility for our back packs. Again, another long line, unless you wanted to pay a flat fee to hold the bags….yes we wanted to do that. It was 12 Euros per bag, until 10pm. They photocopied, Cindy’s passport, but only put a tag on her bag. We have learned a lot about trust on this trip!! We then bought a water taxi pass and rode to the other side of Venice to St. Mark’s Square. We had booked a tour cruise to the 3 islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. We were going to be early for the tour, so that would give us enough time to explore and eat lunch.
You can’t go to Venice and not ride in a gondola. It is 80 Euros for the boat. It doesn’t matter how many people you have, it is a flat fee. We thought maybe our “gondola captain” would sing to us, but he was too busy talking to the other captains. The boat is 11 meters (36 feet) long. We went during low tide.
We went into a back canal, that seemed very busy for as narrow as it was.
The buildings and canals were fascinating….
There were small water taxis in the canals to pick people up at doors that exited right into the canal.
After our gondola ride, we headed to St. Mark’s Square or Piazza San Marco. It is the principal public square of Venice, as well as the social, religious, and political center. Outside the square near the water, is the statue of Venice and the Lion of St. Mark.
At the eastern end of the square is St. Mark’s Basilica. It has only been the city’s cathedral since 1801, but was consecrated in 1117.
We had just enough time to eat before catching our tour boat. We found a cafe in one of the back alleys that had a lunch special of Pasta and a drink for 10 Euros. We had a cannolo (singular for cannolli) for dessert. It had thick cream and the cone had a chocolate coating inside. We all agreed that Europe has awesome desserts.
We headed to out tour meeting spot and saw with 4 ladies from Australia that we had met on the cruise. They were on most of our excursions off the ship, and had picked the same tour to the islands. We all had a good laugh…
The rainy weather had held off so far, but the wind had made the water a bit choppy.
Our tour boat headed for our first stop at Murano to a glass blowing factory.
We watched a demonstration of glass blowing. It takes 15-20 years of practice to master the technique. He obtained the heated glass from the stove and blew the glass. He used pliers to pull and cut the glass into a horse. It takes 8 hours to heat the glass to 2000 degrees. It cools to 500 degrees by the time he is finished designing the glass fixture. It then takes 24 hours to cool completely. We wandered through the gift shop where we bought a horse similar to our demonstration. There were very intricate and beautiful glass pieces for sale, perhaps on another trip, when we have more room.
Our next stop was the island of Torcello. Each island is known for something different. Torcello is known for its place in Venice history. It was first settled in 452 and is the parent island from which Venice grew. It was the main cathedral until Saint Mark’s was built. At one time the island had 20,000 – 35,000 residents. Today it is sparsely populated and a tourist stop to look at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
The final island was Burano. It is famous for the colorful houses and it’s lace shops. We also loved the police boat.
We went into a lace shop. A lady in her 80s was tying the lace. The shop employs 7 ladies, who each do a different stitch to create the lace. For the most intricate designs, it takes 15 days, with each lady tying her stitch in sequence. The lace designs are very expensive due to the time consuming had stitching. we bought 2 hankies and a doily.
There was not a lot of time at each stop, but the tour gave us an over-all view of the islands. The boat ride back to Venice was about 45 minutes and by the time we arrived it was raining. Jerie discovered, that sometime during the day, she had lost her water taxi pass. We had the receipt but no pass. So once we got off the tour boat, Jerie walked through with Jim and due to the rain, no one asked for a receipt, but Cindy had it ready just in case. After several stops, the boat was packed and no one wanted to sit out in the rain. However, this was the only way we were going to get to see the Grand Canal, so we moved to the front of the boat and got a bit wet. We did not get off at the Rialto Bridge as it was under construction, but we went under it.
We had wanted to spend a bit more time in Venice, but the rain was getting worse, so we headed to the luggage storage. It was around 7pm and we were one of the last bags to be picked up. Wow…we guessed the rain must have made everyone cut their time short. a We had booked an “apartment” outside of Venice, so once at the train station we bought a ticket for tonight and tomorrow morning to go to the airport. We looked at the schedule board and couldn’t figure it out. We asked the information lady and she said Platform 1, 1 minute. We ran as fast as we could with our packs. Jim was waving 3 fingers to the conductor on the platform. Jerie was able to jump on just as the doors closed. The train only had 2 stops, but we travelled about 15 miles. We thought, “were we really heading to the correct place”. There were several people from the cruise ship that were headed to a hotel near our apartment, which gave us a better sense of well-being.
Once off the train, we hooked into our phone internet and walked for 20 minutes through a very nice neighborhood. The hotel had left instructions for the key drop box. We tried and tried to enter the code and it kept saying there was an error. Another group of tourist came by and showed us the “correct” box to enter the code…duh….we had been putting the code into the room buzzer. It was a very nice apartment. Jim and Jerie walked to a nearby strip mall and bought a prosciutto and fungi pizza (known in English as ham and mushroom).
It was our last night in Europe. It was bitter-sweet…we had experienced so much in the previous 34 days, but we were exhausted. Tomorrow morning we would begin the trip home.