A Travellerspoint blog

In Venice with Sister Debbie

The Town a Sailor Could Love!


Sunday 30 June

After prayers we had breakfast, and then it was off to Venice!


The train wasn’t until later, so we got packed up, stashed our bags in a secure site in the Convent, then went for one last stroll.

Our train was the ultra fast one and, upon landing, we bought the Venice Pass, which allowed us 3 days of transit and some museum discounts. The waterbus system is a well designed one. Once you figure out what number your bus is, you hop on and then hop off. We stopped at our stop, and met the manager of our apartment. As it turns out, our flat was a 3” walk from the bus stop.

We settled in. This was a second floor walkup, and it was a modern flat with a living room with sofa bed, bedroom, a/c and very modern bath. We figured out things, then went for a walk.

I suggested a map, but Debbie has an innate sense of direction; besides, as Rick Steves says, it’s an island! How lost can you get? We wandered all over the back streets, and found our way to the Rialto Bridge, which was very crowded from fellow tourists and folks from the cruise ships.

We were hungry, so wandered down away from the Rialto until the restaurants got less and less crowded, and found a table. It was touristy, but with a great view; seated right next to the canal. So, it was a good evening meal. Then, in the dark, it was time to wander back. Fortunately, I had Debbie with me, and we found ourselves back at the flat in no time.


On the way back, we found a shop that dealt with Murano glass; one of the specialities here. I found a couple of good cuff links, and Debbie found much more glass to buy. Later, we were to see the owner of the shop at a restaurant we were to lunch at the next day; that he and his wife were eating there was a good sign.

The next day was a very early wakeup, so it was an early toes-up.

Monday 01 July

We were both up very, very early for a tour by a professional photographer, a Thank You gift from sister Debbie. What a great surprise!

Marco, a professional photographer, is Venetian by birth and upbringing, but his photo agency is based in London; he gives these tours on the side. He says the morning light is the best (and it is), so we met at 0700 at the Rialto Bridge.

Marco was amazing; simply amazing. He had made enquiries on my photographic equipment and expertise, and started our tour by giving both Debbie and me advice on how to use our respective cameras to their best advantage. Then, it was off!

Marco showed us all over Venice: the back streets and the main areas, giving history lessons along the way. As we took our photos, he would look at them, approve, or gently suggest another setting or another angle. In a few instances, he took the camera and took a shot of us both together, and I was consistently amazed at his sense of composition and the final result. This is why Marco is the professional photographer!

Then it was back to the apartment for a refresher, then ½ block walk to a restaurant alongside the canal, where we split a pizza and salad.

Then we hopped the waterbus and toured the canals until we got off at Piazza San Marco.


The crush of the crowds was frightful, but Debbie and me found a small park. We found a bench in the shade, and rested. We were to meet Cousin Scott and family in a bit of time.

At 4.30, we wandered round the Tower, and there found Scott, wife Bessie and daughter Kristen. We spent a lot of time catching up on one another’s lives. It was hard to believe that they are living in Atlanta, Debbie is in LA and I am in Virginia, yet we were all in Venice at the same time. After chatting away for a long time, then we started walking, looking for a good restaurant. After wandering round, we were headed to show them our apartment when we spied a little restaurant on a small square, it looked good to us, and so we stopped there for supper. It turned out to be an excellent choice in the open air.

Then it was off to the gondaleria, to find us a gondola ride in the dark night of Venice. After a few moments, one pulled up, and we gingerly got in. For the next 40”, we silently glided down the Grand Canal and up and down narrow alleyways. Instinctively, we all whispered; none of us wanting to disturb the magic of the evening. As we pulled back into gondola center, several other gondolas were tied up; the evening shift was coming to a close for them.

We wandered back across the Rialto Bridge, our apartment one direction, their hotel in the other, said our farewells, kept talking, said farewell again and talked some more. None of us could believe our good fortunes of all being in Venice at the same time, and the warm glow of the evening and wonder of the gondola ride was gently overtaken by the joy of renewed family relationships under the most incomprehensible of circumstances.

Tuesday 02 July 2013

It was a late night, so we slept in a bit, but both of us still woke up prior to the alarm. Showered, breakfasted, coffeed and packed (I invented those words), we were out the door by 0900. We dropped off our luggage at the manager’s B&B just down the road, and continued exploring Venice, one last time.

Arriving at the Cathedral just as it openned, we stood in line for the free admission. As impressive as the Cathedral is from the exterior, nothing quite prepares one for the interior. Milan and Florence catch the eye from the outside; at Venice one must enter the interior to find true joy; perhaps a metaphor for much of life and human interactions.

The interior is awash in gold iconographic mosaics. One could easily mistakenly think that one was in a Greek or Russian Orthodox Church. Debbie had downloaded the Rick Steves self-guided tour, and we both used this to walk through this most stunning of Churches. At a side chapel, I knelt for a few moments of silent prayer and lit a candle for the people of S. Bride’s Church, my family & friends, and all those I carry in my heart.

Coming out onto the Square, we ambled to where we knew the public toilets were on the far end, and Debbie found her last souvenirs in Venice.

At the end of the Square, we noticed the Museum had a Cafe, so we stopped in for an early lunch. We ended up with a table overlooking the entire Square and the Basilica at the far end.

Still having a few hours to kill before we needed to fetch our cases and take the waterbus to the train station, we went through the museum and were amazed all over again at some wonderful treasures of this ancient & wealthy trading city.

Debbie had arranged for us to travel non-stop on one of the new train systems that competes with the government one. Trenitalia, the government one, is fine and I’ve really enjoyed the high speed trains (part of Eurostar). But Italo is a private train company (co-owner also owns Ferrari) that we decided to try. It’s a 4-5 hour ride from Venice to Naples, and is very comfortable. I like also how it cruises at 290-300 KPH (180-187 MPH).

So, tonight is in the home of dear friends Father Michael & Elizabeth Pumphrey; where Kevin and I enjoyed their hospitality, and where I shamelessly lounged about for a week prior to Debbie’s arrival. Elizabeth assures me that she and Debbie WILL go shopping!

Here’s what I liked about Venice: its sheer beauty; how the residents have taken the hardship of fleeing the Barbarians invading Italy during the 5th century when the Roman Empire was collapsing and knowing the Germanic tribes’ horses couldn’t touch them because they had water separating them (much like we have in America); the building up of a city on pilings, one island at a time; all the side streets & shoppes; and of course, the food.

As I reflect on Venice, I also understand how they were oriented towards the Orient: that is, that they were an Eastward looking nation. They were perfectly situated to trade with the Greeks and others to the East, and were therefore influenced by Greek/Eastern styles.

Of course, the sad scenario was that of the Fourth Crusade.


Much of what we enjoy at Venice today was plundered goods from fellow Christians. Still, that doesn’t stop one from enjoying what is currently there; though my Orthodox (Eastern Christian) friends still cite this as a source of division and hostility between the East and the West. Venice has declined to return their plunder to the rightful owners; however, perhaps the Muslim Turks would not be good stewards of it in any case.

Oddly enough, what caused the economic decline of Venice was the discovery of the New World. In AD1492, Columbus (an Italian) sailed the Ocean Blue, and discovered the Western Hemisphere. The balance of power and influence shifted from East to West; from Venice to Spain.

I’m certain that the Venetian leaders thought their world would go on forever. I think my world in America and the Pax Americana, will go on forever. Hmmmmm.

What do I think will go on forever in my world that simply will not? Why will that matter?

Posted by stbrides 10:48 Archived in Italy

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