Sep 192010

9/12/10 (Day 11)

This morning we slept in in the comfy Hilton bed. The hotels get better and better. It’s nice to finally have a real bed. The Switzerland beds all seemed odd in some way, shape, or form. It is laundry day again, and this time instead of paying exorbitant 5-star hotel laundry prices, I did laundry in the sink. We filled the room with wet clothes to dry. Luckily everything is quick-dry fabric except for the cotton socks.

Finally, we hopped on the hotel shuttle and went to San Marco where we found a long line already formed for the San Marco Basilica. Today is Sunday, so we figured it’d be busy for Sunday Mass, however, they let visitors in to view the church during mass. So, we waited in line and saw that there was flooding around the area and they had started to set up platforms so people could stand out of the water. We later learned that the city floods with the tide and we think we were seeing the tide come in.

After September 15th, the tide floods the city a lot, so the city sets up raised pedestrian walkways through the main paths for the tourists and others who want to remain dry. Interesting. We will have to read more about that.

While we waited in line, we saw the main clock on the square was a 24-hour clock. The most notable part was that it had two parts to the clock. It had the analog clock face, and then above it showed the time in roman numerals. The time flipped every 5 minutes on a wheel.

We went inside the Basilica and witnessed a portion of Sunday Mass in either Italian or Latin. No pictures were allowed, of course. The inside was amazing. The floor was 12th century marble, and the domes were 11th century mosaics of gold and pictures of religious scenes and people. Upstairs was a museum with the original pieces of the building to preserve them. As the building had been restored for the past several hundred years, copies of some pieces had to be made. For example, there were 4 high purity copper horses atop the Basilica looking onto the square that had to be brought inside so they could stay preserved. Copies were made for the outside. We learned that all the art and building of the Basilica took about 900 years to complete!

The museum led to an excellent view on the roof of the Basilica out onto Piazza San Marco. There were notes cautioning us that the floor was “historically uneven” so be careful not to trip. The whole area was very interesting.

After the Basilica, we grabbed a quick lunch of pizza wraps and headed to the Doge’s Palace. Here we saw many rooms filled with the original art of the palace, mostly the tops of columns that had to be copied and restored. The Palace was huuggee. At one point we found a tour guide giving a private tour in English and we stayed close to them. Most of the huge guided tour groups were given ear pieces so they could listen to their guide speak into a microphone softly so as not to disturb everyone else. Of course this meant we couldn’t hear those guides.

The Doge’s Palace is full of amazing sculpture and painted art. We spent a couple hours marveling at all the work.

By now it was gelato time. We are going to get our fill of Italian gelato while we are here. =) We figured now would be a good time to take a vaparetto up the Grand Canal to see the whole thing, however, after waiting in line, we decided we did not want to be crammed on the boats with our 200 closest friends and opted out.

Instead we went to the Museo Correr to see more art, ancient maps, and medieval paintings. It was late in the day and we had most of these exhibits to ourselves.

After all the standing on marble floors today, we were ready to sit and relax, so we headed back to the hotel. The hotel has a sky pool with a grand view of Venice and the sunset. We stayed up here through sunset taking photos and relaxing.

Back in main Venice, we went back to the Rialto area for dinner. Mark had a yummy pizza and Joanna spaghetti. Italian spaghetti, or at least the spaghetti here was very al dente. In typical Italian tourist style, we went for our second helping of gelato today. I overheard some tourists asking each other if this was their 3rd or 4th gelato stop that day. =) Yay vacation.

Now it was time for our vaparetto tour of the Grand Canal and we had a very calm and quiet ride after 9pm and close to 10. At the north section of the canal we found an internet cafe and updated ourselves on email and bought some online Rome Passes. Now it really was late and we still had to get back and pack for Rome, so we took a vaparetto to the hotel. It was chilly out in the open waters of the ocean. At the hotel we stayed up too late packing and trying to dry out all the clothes that didn’t dry during the day. It will be an early morning tomorrow.

Oh, and I must share a funny story from last night. While we were out using railings as make-shift tripods last night for our night photography, we saw a guy use his wife’s head as a tripod. This was most hilarious as this could only be worse than if he held the camera himself.

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