On each morning of our trip, we have been up before 6:00 am to shower and be ready for the day with our bags outside the room for the bell staff to pick up for our driver to load on the bus while we all had breakfast. The first driving day of the trip started this trend and it continued throughout the duration. We boarded the coach and were off through Rome on our way north.
The drive to Venice took most of the day but was relaxing and pleasant. When we arrived, we went immediately to the causeway across the strait between the mainland and the actual islands of Venice. We learned that there are more than 100 islands that make up the city and upon which all the edifices are constructed. In order to give all the buildings a firm foundation, each building sits on thousands or millions of wooden pylons that have been sunk deep into the soil or mud of the island upon which it is built. With thousands of buildings, there are literally millions of these wooden pylons holding up Venice. As it is though, the city regularly floods with high tide or storm surge or climate change. It makes things exciting in Venice for sure.
Exiting the coach at a small dock, we were greeted by several water taxis that ferried us through the late afternoon sunshine up the Grand Canal to the dock at St. Mark’s square where we got off and were treated to a traditional gondola ride through the watery alleyways and backwaters of this unique place. I commented to the girls that everywhere you looked was picturesque. Venice reports it receives over 24 million visitors each year and despite this onslaught of people from all over the world, there are still places and times when you can find yourself alone where everything is still and quiet deep within the maze of streets and alleys in the heart of it. Each of us very much enjoyed the gondola ride and were glad we spent the extra funds to experience it.
Emma, our Scottish tour director kept us on a tight timeframe, so we were soon back at the water taxi station. While we waited, Amy and Leah carefully selected and purchased four traditional Venetian masks as gifts for our girls. The ride back had some drama because a couple in our group was late and missed the last taxi back. Emma decided to wait for them, so when we arrived at the dock where the rest were waiting, I took a roll call while she was absent to find out who was missing. It was a very good way to learn everyone’s name.
The hotel we stayed at was located on the mainland to better manage cost we were charged. We had dinner in the hotel with our group, which was also fun because we got the opportunity to spend time talking and laughing with our travel mates. Amy and I were seated at one table (not together) and Leah was put with Asia Aragorn, her new friend from Pasadena, CA and her family. It was absolutely the best outcome because each of had a lovely time. All too soon, it was time to say goodnight and turn in to get some much-needed rest before another full itinerary on day five.