Venice – March, 2011

Stewart Halperin (leader), David and Melissa Billingsly, Ingrid Borecki, Rita Chiu, Cathy Ebbesmeyer, Bud and Jeff Hirsch, Jim Molitor, Val Snyder

Venice – March 6th and 7th: Left St. Louis about on time around 10:30 AM and got into JFK near 1:00. All nine of us for the trip were on the same flights. JFK terminals are like a giant shopping mall with tons of stores and restaurants. We ate at a place we could sit down and talked for a while. The trek to the gate for the Venice flight was a long one. And we had hours to wait. The plane was supposed to leave around 6:40, but didn’t pull away from the gate until after 7:00 PM.

The flight is about 8 hours. Even though the seats were roomy enough and the food fine and the fact that I took a sleeping pill, I didn’t sleep much at all. Fifteen minutes here and there. Coming across Europe, we crossed over the Alps and it was totally clear. Gorgeous.

Stewart met us at the airport and took us to a water taxi. The airport is on the mainland. We were taken over the water, around Murano, around Venice, and over to Lido, where are our hotel is. We all went into Hotel Panorama for some coffee and to check in. Stewart had told Jeff and me and another person that we were going to spend one night at another hotel until our rooms opened up. So, we walked over to the Ausonia Palace Hotel, a recently renovated lovely place with lovely rooms. And there was an Asian spa for massages, but we didn’t have time for that, drat!

Lido is one of the barrier islands around the lagoon that protects Venice and the other islands there. So, Jeff and I walked over to the side of Lido that is the beach and the Adriatic. Lots of pictures along the way and at the beach. Then back to a restaurant on Lido to meet the rest of the group. After lunch, we took a vaporetto over to Venice and got off around St. Marks Square.

It’s hard to relay the scene. Today and tomorrow are the last two days of Carnivale. There are over 150,000 people a day that come to Venice during Carnivale! And most of them are around the biggest public places like St. Marks Square. There are lots of people in costumes some of whom are professional actors and others who are wearing gorgeous costumes and full face masks. I have never seen so many expensive digital cameras. People gather in huge clumps around the people in costumes to take pictures. The actors pose nicely for you. We were there around an hour and a half.

Then we met our guide, Luisella Romeo, and spent several hours with her getting the history of Venice and wandering far and wide through alleys, across bridges, through squares. The alleys are narrow; you have to walk single file through them. I thought at that time unless you get your bearings from where the Sun is, you’d be entirely lost. I learned later I could wander regardless of the Sun and know where I was.

We took a vaporetto back to Lido, downloaded pictures (I took over 500 today), and tried to stay awake. Met all for dinner at Gran Viale on Lido where I had carpaccio, spaghetti with clam sauce, and almond cake. Local wine. All good.

Sensory overload today. Really beautiful. Tomorrow we plan to dive into the crowd again, but also wander off and get good and lost. It’s THE way to see Venice.

Read more: Venice 2011 - Trip Notes