Doug & Heather's Voyages

Join us as we travel the world...or at least that which can be reached by cruise ship.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Second Day in Venice - What a Treat

After a nice nights stay in our hotel followed by an 8:00 breakfast because the front desk told us that St. Mark's Basilica opened it's doors at 9:00, we headed out into the humidity in our long pants (because you can't get into a church in shorts). Well, the Basilica didn't open at 9:00, but 9:45. The other thing we had planned for the day was the Doge's Palace, so we went there and they opened at 9:00. Someone in line said that the tickets were €17 which would be really high…it turned out it was a bargain at €13 so we went in.

A Doge was the head of Venetian government and was democratically elected…well, sort of, the rich families in the city would decide who to name as the new Doge and his power was actually pretty limited, as the rich families actually ran things. The Doge was mostly a ceremonial position. In addition to that, there were many levels of government for these rich families to take part in. There was a council of 10, another council of 40 and a general council which included all families. In order to keep them honest, there was also a group of censors which could overrule things.

It's a good thing we decided to go in, this was the best thing we saw today and maybe the best thing in Venice (although I'm still in the Scala's corner, but there was a lot more to this. The tour took almost two hours going from room to room. Each room where the government met got larger and larger until the general council room which was huge. There were great paintings on the walls and ceilings throughout. The best part, however, was the walk across the Bridge of Sighs into the prison, then down through the cells into the courtyard.

After this, we had to go check out of the hotel and have them store our bags so we could visit the Basilica. Turns out that the line moved very quickly, and that they allowed people in wearing shorts (although ladies did have to use a cover-up if their shoulders were showing. The Basilica is beautiful with the gold mosaics all over the ceiling. We also toured the Treasury which had a piece of Jesus' cross as well as some bonds of St. Peter and a shriveled hand and some feet. We're not sure who those belonged to because the audio tours were not working.

By this time, we were all hot and sweaty with the 65% humidity and high in the mid-80's. Time to head for the ship. We had planned to take a water bus from Piazza San Marco. With our many bags in tow, we crossed the bridge leading to the Piazza, then I had the bright idea of keeping everyone in the shade, so we walked around the square and over past Harry's Bar to the water. Then, unfortunately, we had to cross another bridge and lug the luggage up and down the stairs (that must be why they call suitcases by that name). Finding the ticket booth, we bought our tickets and tried to find the right boat…fortunately the people ahead of us were American and headed the same way, so we made it.

We got a nice view of the south side of Venice on the way as well as a nice view of Ruby Princess. Check in was a breeze and now it really feels like a relaxing vacation. We're looking forward to a couple of days at sea to recuperate before we hit Athens.

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