April 8-10, 2010 Venice

April 8, 2010
On the afternoon of the 8th we walked to the station and caught the bullet train to Venice, St. Lucia Station. An eight hour journey was shortened to just two hours by taking this train that reaches speeds of about 200 mph. Amazing.
St. Lucia Station is located at the far western end of Venice and it was the closest we could get by train. We walked out onto the platform and boarded a number 2 vaporetto, or public boat-bus, for St. Mark´s Square, near where our hotel was located. 
We floated down the Grand Canal past all the palaces and palazzos of long-past and disembarked onto St. Mark´s Square. We walked immediately the 4 minutes to our hotel, the cozy and friendly AL LEON, and shortly after went to dinner. Not far was the Trattoria Alla Scala, a 75 year old Venetian tradition, that lived up to its fine reputation. We enjoyed all sorts of Venetian and Italian foods and the price was reasonable…for Venice. Afterward we strolled over to see the Rialto Bridge at night and finally back to the hotel.
April 9, 2010
A brilliantly sunny and warm day, we began early at the Doges Palace. This was only a 3 minute walk from the hotel and was the residence of the medieval ruler or "Doge" of Venice when they ruled several hundreds of years ago. The palace was, for lack of a better word, stupendous, and represents an excellent history of the entire city. Photos were not allowed inside. The rooms were not sumptuous in the same sense as they are at Linderhof or Versailles, but instead comfortably efficient and grand, nonetheless. 
After, we strolled over to St. Mark´s Cathedral, the greatest "pile" (not my words) of Byzantine, Romanesque and Venetian architectural styles anywhere. Topped with spires and five domes, it somehow all fits together in a style Rick Steves calls "Early Ransack" because so many of the treasures here were "gifts" from elsewhere. Regardless of terminology, it does form one harmonious, lovely whole, iconic and seemingly eternal. 
In the afternoon, some took a gondola ride, some shopped, some strolled and some visited the Correr Museum with me, dedicated to the history of this great city. 
We walked through the fading sunlight to dinner at Osteria Nummer 1 (on a nice secluded plaza, good food, service mediocre) and finally back for a good night´s sleep.
April 10, 2010 Homeward bound.
At 7:15am we boarded our private taxi boat to the Venice airport (see picture), called Marco Polo, about a 35 minute ride away. We were all on various flights but four of us took off about 10:00 am for Paris, where we changed and landed in Detroit about 5:00 pm local time. A smooth, uneventful homeward flight is always the best end to a great trip.
I would like to thank Julie Abler, Patrick Abler, Ron and Jane Beiswenger, Bill and Kathi Beiswenger, Sheila and Tim McLogan, Jim and Donna Sell and Cheryl Ragland, all 11 of you, for a terrific adventure, lots of laughter, jaw-dropping moments, patience and fortitude. Look for their smiling faces through the pictures.
For those of you following Mike Ross´ Travel Blog, thank you. The next installments will begin soon. I will have packing tips for summer trips and then take off with a tiny group for the IMPERIAL CAPITALS OF EUROPE, a journey from Budapest through Vienna, Prague and Berlin, June 1-14. Thanks / Grazie / Danke / Merci! MIKE 

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