Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Video of People Walking By

While waiting outside a shop, I decided to just film people walking by for a couple of minutes.  Ok, look, I'm not Francis Ford Coppola, alright?  I never claimed to be.  YouTube link.

Random Venice Pictures

View of St. Mark's from the bell tower.

The famous 'Bridge of Sighs' leading from the Doge's Palace to the Doge's Prison.

The street leading to our apartment. The courtyard is behind the gate at the end.

Chocolate mountain.

The winged lion is the symbol of Venice.  Pretty cool symbol if you ask me.

Little meat pigs, presumably pig meat.  You know you want one.

Somehow the vegetables at the markets in Italy always look amazing.  Maybe because they typically only eat things in season?

Venice's famous fish market.

This was a cool 24 hour clock face.

One of the wells in our courtyard.  Check out the intricate carving.

Shop where oar holders for gondolas are made.  Apparently the guy quit being an astronomer to do this.  I think that's kind of awesome.

Hmmm...symbolism maybe?

Video of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)

Here's a link to a video of St. Mark's Square I posted to YouTube.

Venice Part 2

One of the first things we did in Venice was to visit the Naval History Museum in Venice.  This was a really cool museum.  Given that Venice was a major world power for several hundred years, and the navy had a lot to do with this, and given that the city is on the water, naval operations have been of major importance throughout the history of the city.

First off was these cool, huge anchors outside. 
Me for scale.  Those of you who know me know that I am not a small guy...
The museum had many scale ship models.  These depicted all kinds of ships, even dating back to galleys and other ancient ship types.
There were also lots of cool globes.

And sea chests.

Ship model.


Near the museum is also the entrance to the Arsenale, which was the shipyard where the ships were made.  It's still an active naval base, so you can't go in, but you can see the very cool towers that once held the gates.
The entrance to Arsenale.

Lion taken as a war prize.
The lion above was taken as a war prize from somewhere in Greece if I remember correctly.  There was a display on it in the museum showing how it has viking runes carved into the side of it.  Quite a few in fact.  They were added later, carved into the stone.  You have to admire that kind of dedication to your vandalism.

One of the first things we did was go up into the bell tower in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square).  This provides an amazing view of Venice, and it happened to be one of the very few sunny days we had.  Well worth the 8 euros.  Check out these views.

Closeup of the winged lion on top of the column.

Here's a video of the view.

More to come.

Grand Canal Ride Link

To see a longer ride on the Grand Canal, including the famous Rialto Bridge, go to this link

Vaporetto Ride on the Grand Canal

Hi Everyone,
I forgot to post anything last night.  So to compensate, here is a video of a ride on the vaporetto along the Grand Canal.  This was our first ride when we were just getting to Venice.  I have a lot of videos, but unfortunately Blogger has a 100 MB file size limit.  Perhaps I'll put some on YouTube and post links.  More words about and pictures of Venice to come soon.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Venice Part 1

On Monday the 24th we took the train to Venice.  Train travel in Italy is great. It's cheap and the trains pretty much go everywhere.  The second class seats are large and comfortable.  I can't imagine paying for the first class seats, as I can't think of what would make them worth the extra expense.  Anyway, we arrived in Venice that afternoon.

Venice is incredibly photogenic.  It's also a lot larger than I had thought.  It's not huge, by any means, but it was larger than I had expected.  There are no cars in Venice, so it makes walking around the city much safer and more enjoyable than many places I have been.  I was also very surprised at how clean it was.  The streets are clean, and graffiti is minimal.  They must spend a great deal of time and effort cleaning the streets.

Venice is also a very well run city, probably the most well run I have been to in Italy.  This is likely due to the massive amount of tourist traffic the town gets.  The vaperettos (public water taxis) are clean and always seemed to be on time.  These large boats plow up and down the Grand Canal.  Since the Grand Canal winds through a large part of the city, you can get pretty close to about anywhere on it.  It's not cheap (7 euros per ride) but it is a great way to get around.  We finally came to our senses and bought a multi-day pass.  Expensive, but totally worth it for the ease of not having to buy individual tickets.

L's sister and her husband met us at the vaporetto stop nearest our apartment, which was San Angelo.  They then led us back to the apartment, which L's sister had found.  Holy crap!  That is all I can say.  It is called Ca' Corner-Gheltoff, and was definitely the nicest place I have ever stayed on any vacation.  It was a palace, or at least a part of one.  I mean this literally-it was carved out of a former palace.  We had two living rooms, a TV room, three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a full kitchen.  I cannot say enough nice things about this place.  The two living rooms had windows that opened up onto the Grand Canal.  This was the view from our living room windows.
Yep, that's the Grand Canal there
Of course it also had its own private boat slip and water entrance.  I can't imagine a nicer place to stay, at least one that normal, not super rich people could afford.  Seriously, go look at the pictures on the website

It also had a courtyard that it shared with a couple of other buildings, all of which I think were once part of the palace complex.  The door under the arch is the entrance to a foyer which leads back to the water stop.  Stairwell off each side lead up to apartments.
Apartment courtyard. The window above the door in the arch was our bedroom window.
One other thing that surprised me about Venice was how uncrowded and quiet it was at night.  Admittedly, we were in the off season, and the weather was not great, but first thing in the morning there would be very few people out.  At night, after about 10, it would be almost deserted.  We would often be walking back from dinner and see very few people.  At night it was really quiet.  I would go out at night to the courtyard pictured above to smoke a cigar, and it would be dead quiet-much quieter than my own neighborhood at home, which is not exactly loud.  That feature really surprised and pleased me. 

Like I said, Venice is incredibly beautiful and photogenic.  Here are a few random photos.
Another view from our apartment window.

The Danielle Manin monument.

Rialto Bridge.  For centuries this was the only bridge over the Grand Canal.  Even today there are not a lot.

View from Rialto Bridge.

The Tetrarchs, a famous statue depicting the four emperors of the tetrarchy.

The doge's palace.  More on this in a later post.

The bell tower in St. Mark's Square.

More on Venice to come, including the amazing sights we saw.