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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photo Blog: First Day in Venice, Italy

Today was the start of the sight-seeing portion of our vacation here to Italy. This morning we woke up relatively early for European standard in order to make our 8:38am Eurostar train from Florence up to Venice. We have actually adjusted quite well to the later eating schedule here in Italy. It just took a couple of days.

For me, this will be my first time in Venice, Italy – kind of. Technically, I made it to Venice back in 1996 when I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. In fact, the group I was traveling with accidentally got off the train at the Venezia Mestre stop rather than the Venezia San Lucia stop. Nothing against Mestre, but not the true “Venice” with the canals that tourists generally think of – this time, Ashley will not allow me to make the same mistake. :-)

As with any vacation, this particular day has a couple of stories – some of the pictures may be slightly out of chronological order. However, the story is more important – and was not documented until later.

We made it to Venice San Lucia train station with no problems this time and head out from the train station towards the Venice Canals Vaporetto -- Water Taxi.

After choosing the long way around on Vaporetto #2, we approach San Marcos Square so we can catch the free Hilton water taxi over to the Hilton Stuckey Molina Hotel.

We finally found the water taxi for the Hilton. Luckily it was not this late at night. However, it did take us an hour to find it -- after searching around the San Marcos stops, a couple of calls to the hotel and then finally going farther west down the Grand Canal to the San Zaccaria FMV stop. We were nearly dropping from the heat, our luggage, and tired of walking up and down the bank. In hindsight, simply taking the #2, #41, or #42 Vaporetto Water Taxi to the Sacca Fisola stop would have been the quickest and saved us about an hour. The good news is that we went down the main canal route, so we did get some good views.

Finally arriving at the hotel -- the Hilton Stuckey Molina hotel is a very new property -- massive by European standards -- with a lot of character left from it's beginnings as a flour factory.

Back on the Hilton Stuckey Molina Water Shuttle to Piazza San Marcos after checking into the hotel and grabbing a quick bite to eat.

A quick photo in front of Saint Mark's Basilica. The line to enter the basilica was shorter that we expected -- just a five minute wait.

Another familiar sight, Saint Mark's Campanile.

Ashley poses in a simple street of Venice, marked by the narrow walkway.

We stopped for a couple of minutes to relax and take in the view from Pointe Dell Academia one of the major crossings.

We "got" lost wandering around Venice for fun and ended up in a very un-tourist like area. I liked this photo of Venice life and the laundry hanging across the street.

Another sight several blocks from where the majority of the visitors are. An older Italian gentleman painting a scene of a bridge, boat, and a smaller canal.

After a relaxing dinner near Piazza San Marcos and a long day of seeing the major sites in Venice -- the view from our hotel room facing Piazza San Marcos