Monday, June 9, 2014


View from our room
Our hotel in Venice,  the Hotel Flora, was fantastic. An old, character-filled building, good location not far from Piazza San Marco, with friendly staff. Luckily I spotted one potential source of trouble before it created havoc.  I was the first in the shower, and warned Andy about the temperature control. It was marked C (for calda which is hot) and F (for freddo, which is cold). He would have though C was cold and that may have resulted in a nasty burn. [Correction: Andy says he couldn't see anything in the shower anyway without his glasses on].

Add Hotel Flora courtyard

We spent a lot of our time in Venice just walking around. We very rarely used the vaporetto (a boat which is the Venetian equivalent of s bus), but we did go to some of the major tourist sites.

The first was a tour of the Secret Itineraries of the Doge's Palace.  These rooms, which include the old prison cells (including those of Casanova) and some of the rooms used by the clerks working for the council of twelve can only be seen via an organised tour.  When it ended were were left in the main part of the Doge's Palace to see it under our own steam.  I have to say that I was not as impressed as I was with the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.  Maybe if I had been interested in the art works it might have been different, but I am a philistine and am far more interested in the architecture. The one thing I did enjoy was being able to walk over the Bridge of Sighs.

The courtyard of the Dog's Palace
The Bridge of Sighs
Likewise, I found St Mark's Basilica disappointing (except for the originals of the Bronze Horses stored upstairs). We have seen churches that made a far greater impression on me, like St Peter's in Rome and the cathedral in Siena. It was also very disappointing that much of the facade of the basilica was covered in scaffolding, but then there's always something that is.

St Mark's Basilica and the scaffolding
We did an obligatory gondola ride. It's not cheap, but it would have felt wrong not to do it.  Traveller's Tip: make a note of the time your trip starts and compare it to the time you have sgreed in advance to pay for. We suspect we were short changed, but can't prove it as we didn't note the time we started. 

Gondola Ride
We also splashed out on a coffee at the Cafe Florian in St Mark's Square one evening while the musicians were playing.  That was very definitely worth the money. I also really enjoyed the two times we sat at cafes alongside the Grand Canal and had a cold drink and soaked up the atmosphere.

The Rialto bridge was unbelievably crowded and noisy, but that was to be expected. We didn't go up the campanile in St Mark's Square to see its views over Venice as the queues were very long, but we caught a vaporetto over to see St Giorgio Maggiore and went up it's bell tower to enjoy that view.

View from the Bell Tower
The other thing you see everywhere in Venice are masks. Some are good, some just cheap junk.

Venetian Masks
Unsurprisingly, everything in Venice is very expensive,  but that's just the way it is. Budget accordingly.

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