|For this trip, we flew into
Zurich for one reason only. For several years, we had been wanting to take
the Bernina Express all the way to Tirano in Italy. Although we had traveled
the part of the route from Chur to St. Moritiz, we really wanted to see
the rest. We weren't disappointed. The tunnels and viaducts provided memorable
sights, and the snow was several feet deep along much of the route. We were
amazed, though, at how much hotter the weather became once we arrived in Italy.
Also, we were a little surprised at the formal customs and passport check
after we detrained.
||We arrived in Venice at a
little past 11:00 p.m. on the Friday night before Palm Sunday. We had decided
to take a chance and not make reservations. At the station, even that late
at night, we were met by a few of the hotel hawkers offering rooms at a
number of places. We chose to stay at the Hotel Spagna only a couple of hundred
yards from the station on the Lista da Spagna. Although we'd prefer to stay
closer to St. Marks, the hotels on Lista da Spagna do have some real advantages.
They are close to the station, and are really convenient for the rail traveler.
Baggage can be more of a problem in Venice than in many cities because of
the inconvenience of taking it by boat to the hotel. At the Hotel Spagna,
we had a very nice 3-Star Room with bath and a huge (for Italy) breakfast
for less than $90 per night. The Lista da Spagna is also pretty convenient
for exploring the Ghetto, just a few blocks down, and the walk to St. Marks
takes only 20 minutes or so.
|Brenda and I love the canals
of Venice, and on each visit we spend quite a bit of time riding the big water
buses throughout the city. And, every time we go, we swear that this time
we'll actually ride in a gondola. And, then we get there and realize how
many other places we can spend the outrageous amount that the gondolier asks
and we ride the water buses some more! And afterwards, we always say, "Next
time, next time, we'll ride the gondola."
||The Grand Canal winds through
the city and serves as the main avenue. Almost all the major water bus routes
travel at least a part of the Grand Canal. The Car Park is on the Grand Canal;
the station opens right to the Grand Canal; the Rialto Bridge spans it; and
it ends near St. Marks. Try to stay as close as possible to it; the sounds
coming from the canal help make Venice the unique wonder that it is.
|At the lagoon end of St. Mark's
stand two great columns. On one of the columns is Saint Theodorus, and on
the other is the Lion of Venice. The Winged Lion can be seen in dozens of
places throughout the city. Today, pleasure boats take the tourists from this
point on trips around the lagoon, but just a few hundred years ago, this
was the spot that the great merchant ships of Venice docked. Near the columns
stands the Doge's Palace; take a tour of the palace to get a good understanding
of what Venice was like at the height of its power.
||At one time, Napoleon called
St. Mark's Square "the finest drawing room in Europe." Today, it's the finest
pigeon room in Europe. Buy a little pigeon food and take a chance on not
being decorated by the birds, or spend considerably more to enjoy one of
the most expensive cups of coffee you can ever have in one of St. Mark's
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