We were up fairly early on Sunday–we’d passed by a church (wow–are those rare (not)) the day before and found out their Mass times, and decided on the 11am one.
After breakfast in the hotel, we chugged it over to the bus stop and waited in the frosty morning air for the Number 5. Paul was worried that maybe it didn’t run on Sundays, but it wasn’t long before it came by.
We were told the day before that if you wanted the bus to stop, you had to actually flag it down. It doesn’t stop unless you do. Strange.
This time around, there weren’t as many bodies crowding in as there had been the day before, and we were able to see the world as we rode along. It was interesting–and a little alarming–to see police officers blocking a street here and there.
Then we started to see runners, and I remembered–today was the Venice Marathon. I wondered vaguely where the route would take the runners…
Off the bus and over to the vaporetta stop, for a ride to St. Mark’s Square. And–oh look. Runners:
And guess where the route went–that’s right, exactly across where we needed to go. Us and a zillion others. For those of you unfamiliar, St. Mark’s Square has no go-around from the water side. Crossing the stream of runners was the only option.
Solution: the police were at a certain cordoned-off spot on the route on either side of the runners, and when there was a break in the stream, they’d let a few people across. We took our lives in our hands doing so–those runners would run over a person before they would stop. It was especially tricky getting a guy in a wheelchair across–not because of the runners, but because the police had to clear a spot on the other side so he could find safe haven.
I was pushed back by the cops a couple of times for reasons given in Italian, but I finally made it, with Paul not far behind.
We walked through a relatively quiet St. Mark’s Square on our way to the church. As we passed through, we saw the barriers up for the runners–but no runners as yet. Near as I can figure, the runners would be doubling back somewhere and would be coming through later.
We reached our church of choice:
The church was built initially in the 8th century. It is dedicated to Moses since like the Byzantines, the Venetians often considered Old Testament prophets as canonized saints. It also honors Moisè Venier, the aristocrat who funded the reconstruction during the 9th century.
Thank you, Wikipedia.
We could take pictures from the outside, but not inside–we were used to that, of course. So–stock pictures once again (the inside ones).
These were pretty cool–handwrought maps of various towns in Italy on the foundations of the church. Not a lot of detail, but they were fascinating to examine up close.
This was over the main altar. I found the picture on Wikimedia.
We wandered around the area for awhile, since we still had some time before church started. Paul was looking for something for his mom, so that kept us occupied for a little time.
Shall I drop some more pictures of Venice in here? Oh, why not:
(Actually, this picture was taken in Murano.)
We got into the church with plenty of time to spare…which we used up by goggling at the artwork around us. Paul was especially – intrigued, I guess is the best word – by a statue on the wall to our left. The figure was either a very thin, haggard-looking woman, or Death–or Pestilence. We couldn’t really figure it out.
A lot of the paintings on the walls were nearly black with age and exposure. I certainly hope they get some restoration work done on them.
The priest was a study in character; “hawk-like” was really the best description of his face. Youngish–I think–clean-shaven of head and face, the classic Roman nose, and eyes that watched from under heavy, lowered brows. He didn’t look like he had much patience for people who arrived late.
And it didn’t help that some young guy with a silly grin on his face decided to make the tourist round while Mass was going on. The priest gave him a couple of long, silent looks, but the guy didn’t get it. He finally drifted on out–but the tension was there on the part of the good Father. For a few minutes, I thought he was going to jump out there and haul the guy away.
With no further incidents, Mass continued as normal–all in Italian, of course. I tried to follow along, with an attempt at pronouncing the words, but that became a simple babbling on my part. Yeah–Italian–I ain’t got it.
Our major destination for the day was the Doge’s Palace–naturally smack-dab in the middle of that mess of people watching the Marathon. Xenophobes need not apply. You like personal space? It won’t happen here, I can guarantee you that.
Once we finally got in, it was a different story. So much space! So much breathable air! The entrance opened up onto a large inner courtyard, simple in its construction, which ably hid the grandeur to come:
A lot to explore around the outer walkways:
This was the entryway into the lavish rooms that we would be seeing. Not to be outdone by the riches within–this is known as the Golden Stair:
But thoroughly eclipsed by the paintings and such that we saw on the inside.
We walked through many rooms like these–tell ya the truth, we got lavish’d out.
The armory was interesting:
And the view outside fantastic:
Then we got to cross the Bridge of Sighs and went into the prisons:
Personally, I thought the graffiti down through the ages was cool:
Once we’d visited the prisons, our tour was over. The freedom we’d felt inside these walls was rudely eclipsed by the imprisoning bodies once we got back outside.
There were sixty bazillion people trying to get from Point A to Point B, and at least that many trying to go the opposite direction. I have not been in such a press of bodies since the last time I went to an outdoor rock concert in the Oakland Coliseum in California. It was nuts!
By the time I got out of there, I’d traded eyeballs with someone and had gotten an extra elbow.
(I managed to get it past airport security, and it makes a pretty good doorstop.)
According to the picture gallery from both our cameras, we didn’t do much else after that. I believe we just got on another water taxi (the vaporettas being insanely populated–see below) and headed back to the airport stop.
We made an early night of it, after having dinner in a little restaurant down the street from our hotel. Our flight was going to be around dawn the next day, so we wanted to at least try and get some rest.
(Paul didn’t sleep–he couldn’t, so he stayed awake reading all night.)
Next day–a flight into Amsterdam (where the bathrooms not only have seats–they have dispensers by each toilet where you can get antibacterial cleaner for them!), then a straight shot home.
Not being sleepy, I watched quite a number of movies on the little screen in the back of the seat in front of me. This was after the attendant had to re-set the thing–it kept looping ads and stuff on its own–in Spanish.
I watched “What We Do in the Shadows”, which I’d wanted to see for some time, “Pixels”, “Into the Woods”, and “An American Werewolf in London”. The guy in the row in front of me played Solitaire the whole ten hours home. How does anyone do that??
Oh, it felt so good to be home. Daughter Dearest met us at the MAX line just east of the airport, and in no time we were inside our home, being joyfully ignored by the cat. Well, she’s a cat, so…
I hope everyone has enjoyed this time with us. Our next trip will be Scotland–I’m already looking into bed-and-breakfasts and the like.