THE bus ride from Munich to Venice would be our longest, an 8-hour ride with a few stops along the way. For lunch, we stopped in a southern Tyrolean town in Italy, just south of the Austrian border. In Italian, it’s called Egna; in German, Neumar. There, we all had lunch al fresco and tried different types of authentic, Italian pizza.
Before leaving for Venice, Jennifer strongly advised that we take overnight bags and pack only what we need for our two days in Venice. It would be a lot easier getting to our hotel without rolling bags, and our other luggage would be kept in deep storage on our bus. The bus would be parked in the Tronchetto Parking Garage, which was built on a man-made island. From there, we rode a Vaporetto to San Marco Piazza.
HIGHLIGHTS, DAY 1
Just being in Venice!
Our group dinner on the first evening and getting to know others from our group. Jackie, one of the ladies who celebrated her 80th birthday, has traveled quite a bit. I hope I can be like her when I grow up!
Background image: Taken from the Bridge of Sighs - the San Marco Basin with San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance.
Gondolier's serenade on the Grand Canal
Evening gondola ride on our first night with other tour members. We rented four boats, six people in each, except the fourth, which included two musicians.
If you see bug spray in your hotel closet like we did, there’s a reason for it! We had a nice corner room with lots of windows. It was so beautiful and sunny outside, we opened them. When we came back later, mosquitoes were buzzing around! It never occurred to us that there’d be mosquitoes in Venice.
Bring a packable overnight bag. We brought one each, and they definitely came in handy. We used them going into Venice as well as our carry-ons on the flight back home.
THE next morning, Omar and I had an early breakfast so that we could go out and take pictures of the Grand Canal and San Marco Piazza. What a difference that made!
HIGHLIGHTS, DAY 2
San Marco Piazza and Grand Canal in the morning. It’s virtually empty and so beautiful. Plus, the weather was great - sunny and clear.
Omar commented on how the sunlight was different in Venice – brighter, clearer, more intense.
Getting to know Venice with our local tour guide, Elisabetta.
Venetian mask-making demonstration, learning about the different characters, and the shop.
Having lunch with other tour members - Russ, Kim, Nate, and Holly - and having gelato afterwards.
Skipping the long line to St. Mark’s Basilica and visiting the Doge’s Palace.
Image above: San Marco Basin with Santa Maria della Salute (or just Salute) across the water and to the far right.
The Bells of the Campanile at St. Mark's Basilica
MORE TRAVEL TIPS
In Rick Steves book, Best of Europe, there’s a tip on how to skip the long line to get into St. Mark’s Basilica. It really works! Six of us went together and split up into groups of three. Instead of waiting in line, we went straight to Ateneo San Basso, where Omar and one of the other guys checked in their backpacks and each got a claim ticket. We approached the entrance to St. Mark’s from the left, totally bypassing the long line that wound around to the right. Each group presented their claim ticket to the gatekeeper, and he let us all in! Afterwards, we went back to Ateneo San Basso and picked up our bags.
Adventures in ITALIAN
I don’t recall using a lot of Italian. Then again, a lot of our time was spent with our guides and local guides. But even off on our own at restaurants and shops, we didn’t use as much as I thought we would. Of course, like in other countries, we used common greetings - it's just polite. Here are some of the words and phrases we used most:
Buon giorno – Good day
Bene – Good
Grazie/Per favore – Please/Thank you
Si/No – Yes/No
Parla inglese? – Do you speak English?
Arrivederci – Good-bye
Andiamo! – Let’s go!
Gelato – delicious Italian ice cream that’s next to impossible to find back home – I’m talking about the good stuff!